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Doggy treats

Advantages of parenting a pet

By Ebony Booker
On February 17, 2014

 

How does the thought of a wagging tail greeting you at the door after a long day of classes sound? As if dealing with holds on your account, classes, social life, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," Greek life, finding cheap food and figuring out what to do after you graduate isn't enough. It's obvious you could use some stability in your life. You need a dog.

Having a dog in college can be a very good thing. Research conducted by Ohio State University suggests that pets could help college students better handle stress.

Pets demand a lot of responsibility and a sense of sensitivity that people find inviting. And whereas a snooty roommate won't, your dog will always welcome you home after the walk of shame home from the previous night's shenanigans.

Dogs are great companions, quiet study mates and fantastic listeners. Fail a test? Go talk to your dog. Didn't make line? Take the dog for a walk. Your roommate is just plain nasty? Well, I'm sorry, a dog might not be the best outlet for that one.

Show dog trainer and veterinarian Ken Hapgood said owning a dog provides many benefits.

"Having a dog builds relationship skills within humans," Hapgood said. "There is a bond of respect, unconditional love and mutual understanding that non-pet owners tend to have a harder time dealing with."

I brought Lady, my 9-year-old Chi-Poo, to school with me when my parents got divorced my sophomore year at Florida A&M. I've had her since I was a freshman in high school. She was a gift from my best friend.

I know cost is a big drawback to keeping a dog for the typical college student. Food, vet bills, clothing - if it's a diva-dog - shampoo and other costs can add up. Consider your budget carefully and ask yourself, "Can I afford emergency vet care or a dog sitter during spring break?"

Contrary to popular belief, having a dog doesn't ensure that your social life will cease. I still find time to turn up. I've had roommates and friends who loved Lady and still offer to watch her. While I have had to take people up on these offers occasionally, the majority of the time, she stays under me.  

Having a puppy has actually saved me money. Yes, you read correctly. It saved me money. Caring for a dog is a responsibility, and the perfect excuse to ditch another unsuccessful girls or fellas night out. Instead of going out, most times I choose to stay home so Lady isn't locked up in her kennel all night. A pet is a permanent decision, not a temporary net check purchase.

I make smarter fitness choices. Toy dogs are high-energy dogs and need physical and mental stimulation. I make it a point to run the hills or head out to Mike Blankenship Park at least every two days. This keeps both my dog and me fit.

I'm much better at time management now. Knowing that there's a miniature being running around my house keeps me on top of things. I don't have time to be lazy. Any schoolwork and housework actually gets done so I can give my dog the attention she needs.

Lady has taught me a lot about myself. I've learned to be a patient person. Just like children, dogs don't always understand things the first, or second, time they're told. I also realized just how much alone time I need.

Dogs are needy and always want your full attention. It can be difficult to give them that when you have a huge assignment due in the morning or need that extra hour of sleep before you go clubbing. However, at the end of the day, coming home to a wagging tail and those droopy ears makes it all worth it.


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