During the height of the pandemic, I would often take walks around the Urbana neighborhoods to get some fresh air and see more of the outdoors. I used to always see dogs being walked around with their owners, and I realized how badly I wanted one. It was such a bright spot in my day to see the joy that dogs can bring to other people, and since I saw it so often, I desperately wanted that in my own life. I did my research and found my sweet Sailor a few months later. She and I have been together since her seven-week birthday, and her Goldendoodle energy has only gotten stronger in the last year. It’s wonderful to have a companion so loving, and during the stay at home period, she was such a great support system for me.
The routine of taking care of Sailor allowed me to stay on schedule with what I needed to do, even when it was difficult with a lack of focus during online learning. She also was a great emotional focus and a source toward which I could redirect my energy, since I was not able to see my family. And now, I’m seeing more and more people adopt or take dogs into their care. A few friends of mine have done the same in the last few months. Point blank, dogs are the absolute best, and everyone deserves some level of companionship with an animal when they want it. It’s not for everyone, certainly, but if you really ache for that slobbery smiling face in your life, there are ways to make it happen.
There are some cons to raising a dog on campus. Since I’m so young, the financial burden of taking on a pet has been a big one. Sailor has had some medical troubles in the last few months. All is well now, and she is better, but vet visits do not come cheaply! Whether you get a puppy directly from a litter or a dog from a shelter, chances are, there are going to be some medical encounters. For those considering raising a pet, it’s important to set aside some money. As well as that, there are also living circumstances. If your living arrangements do not allow you to get outside much, or if you have to walk down many flights of stairs, it may be something to consider when it’s freezing cold and your pup has got to get out. Most dogs need to run, too, so having a park nearby is essential to look for, especially for a university student who may live in a more urban area. There are grooming expenses and sometimes training can be difficult as well. I went with a medium-sized dog, though. Sometimes small (or what I would call yip-yip dogs) are easier to manage.
The purpose of this post is not to encourage or discourage, but just to lay out some of my experiences so that those considering options may have more to think about. When the pandemic is over, business will come back, and your loving animal may need the time you will have to devote to other things. Considering alternatives to dogs is a great thing to do, if you really want a pet but you simply cannot manage such an active one. Some folks like cats. If you want a pet who comes and goes, but is pretty much self-sufficient, a cat is a good choice. Another great alternative is a rabbit! Rabbits are the cuddly type, and they need a lot of love, as evidenced by my friend’s experience with his rabbits. But the great news is rabbits do not go outdoors! So for an Urbana-Champaign winter, that’s a plus.
To me, there’s not much in the world that is greater than the love I share with my dog. She has been so worth it through the ups and downs. There’s gratification in it too which is so much greater than receiving an A in a class or winning an audition. It comes with the knowledge that the relationship you build with your pet will last a lifetime, even after they’re gone. It’s worth it!