What's All Fuss Over All The Pups?

What's All Fuss Over All The Pups?

Comfort dogs are on the rise these days, and I want to know why!
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"Hi, my name is Becca, nice to meet you! That is such a cute dog!"

"Thanks, I got her at the humane society this weekend!"

"Oh wow, does she live in the dorm with you?"

"Well, that's what I'm trying to work on, she needs to be approved as a comfort dog first."

"What is a comfort dog?"

...And from there opens a whole can of worms.

The story above is an experience that I have had with other classmates on numerous occasions already, and I have only been at college for eight weeks. I'm not sure if Furman is an incredibly dog friendly campus, or if all these dogs live in the dorms, but I'm ready to get to the bottom of this question "why do so many students have dogs on campus?"!

Before I continue on the subject of comfort animals, I will make it known that some of the pets on campus are outside the realm of "therapy pets". I have seen a few legitimate service dogs, whether for students that are visually impaired or suffer from epilepsy or other similar disabilities. Also, I have checked the campus rules and learned that in the on campus apartments, as long all four roommates consent, pets are allowed to live in the apartments.

The subject that I am trying to address is that the seven or eight puppies I have seen around freshman housing, are referred to as "comfort pets" when asked. So to begin, I did my research. For reference throughout this article, an "emotional support pet " is "a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. The person seeking the emotional support animal must have a verifiable disability, and the reason cannot just be a need for companionship."

Anxiety, as well as depression, is a growing diagnosis among college students over the past few years. Following these diagnoses, the calming effect of pets has been widely accepted, so much that college campuses bring in domestic pets for stressed students to play with. Along with the growing acceptance of pets as sources of comfort, the request for these domestic pets to reside on college campuses has grown as well. However, in some cases, the permission for a comfort pet has been denied, leading to lawsuits filed against the schools. But how can administration discern between the legitimate request of a college kid with an emotional disability, and the homesick kid who just really wants a kitten?

This may not be happening on your campus, but I do know it to be true on Furman's campus, as it has become a widely debated topic among our students, saying "Are people trying to pass off their pets as therapy pets?" "How does a comfort pet actually improve the situation" "How can I get my dog approved??". In that sense, I thought that I would turn this article into a debate among other students. What are the benefits of comfort pet? Does the pet not introduce more stress by say, having another mouth to feed and another life to look after? Can anyone have their pet approved as a comfort pet, or do you have to have documentation of a disability? Leave your thoughts in the comments or share and fuel the debate about comfort pets!

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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9:51 PM

A poem about struggling with anxiety, especially during a creative process like writing

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Roses are red,
But violets aren't blue
And in about twelve hours this poem is due.

So I ponder and think,
And hope and pray
That the words I need will come to stay.

But my mind says no,
Your writing sucks, start again
Or better yet, don't even bother to begin.

It tells me to give up,
That my words aren't "right"
Stop now, your verse is weak-they'll hate it on sight.

Instead of stopping, my pen keeps going
And the ink flows on
For it knows I have something worth showing,
So girl, write on.

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