I never was a dog person. The hair. The drool. The barking. But Winter 2010, something shifted. I suddenly felt this drive to have a beast living in my house. If you’re out there calculating – yes, I was in fact a senior looking at a year of graduate school. So what made this sound like a good idea?
All my friends were moving on to the next thing and I was staying in Erie for at least another year. I was worried about being lonely and living by myself. I had a semi-flexible schedule that would allow me to be home every few hours to check on my new, furry friend.
I, of course, weighed the cons against the pros: I had an unstable income (although I was interning at the time); I was a renter whose next home might not allow them; would my mom let me bring her home over break?
Even with those drawbacks, I found myself at the animal shelter that January and bringing home a skinny, brindle mutt a few days later. Six years later, little Tesla is central to my life. She (and her brother, Edison) have inspired a blog, prompted the creation of a dog-walking group and created a pitbull advocate.
What I didn’t plan for when I brought Tesla home was the positive effects she would have. Our daily walks prompted us to explore more of our neighborhood, meet new people, and get into a routine. And all that stress-reducing came in handy during finals week.
While bringing home a 2-year-old dog allowed me to retain a lot of my freedom – I had no problem leaving Tesla home to go out for Advising Day Eve festivities – there were restrictions. I couldn’t stay in bed all day after a “late” night. Impromptu, dog-free, weekend trips took a bit of planning. Free time between classes became filled with dog walking and training sessions.
So, how do you know when you are ready? You are responsible, have endless patience and don’t mind carrying around poop-in-a-bag. Bringing home a new pooch is a huge task and can be complicated by your student status, but if you find the right buddy it can be worth every dog hair.