"I will NEVER bring a pet to school! Dogs are too messy and smelly and cats scratch up all the furniture. Forget it! I'm just gonna bring my fish with me and that's it."
Those were my exact spoken words while I was living in a dorm during my freshman year. After growing up with so many pets and practically living in an at-home petting zoo, I decided that I was done living with animals until after I graduated and started a family of my own so I could adopt a big golden retriever to play with my children and keep them active.
That is until I met Bubba.
Bubba is the precious pit mastiff pictured in the cover photo. I adopted him a few weeks ago after falling in love with the most adorable smile I had ever seen. He had lived with a foster group after being rescued from a home with ill living conditions. My boyfriend's family considered adopting him but then gave him to me after deciding that they couldn't properly care for a dog. When I tell you that Bubba is my dream dog, I am not lying. His big ole' blocky head and his giant feet make me melt every time I see him.
I will be taking Bubba with me to my new apartment in Carrollton next month, so to prepare for the inevitable insanity of having a dog in college, I've compiled some research to share with you all in the event that you choose to bring your beloved best friend to school with you.
1. Make sure that the place you live allows animals.
If you're living in a dorm this year, forget bringing your dog or cat. Most dorm halls only allow pet fish in the room, and if you get caught with anything other animal, you will be fined (or worse). On top of that, it wouldn't be right to keep a cat or dog in your cramped, shared room if you have to sneak them in and out of the room to do their business or go for a walk. They wouldn't be as happy as if they were at home!
For those moving into an apartment, check your complex's pet rules and guidelines. A lot of places have pet size requirements or don't allow certain breeds, such as pitbulls. Thankfully, Bubba's records show that he is an American Bulldog mix, which is an advantage for me!
(Tip: If you have a history of mental illness or depression/anxiety, you can ask your doctor to write a letter of recommendation for your pet to be registered as an ESA (emotional support animal) to give you an upperhand over some of your apartment's rules!)
2. Set aside time to care for your pet.
Having a pet can be time-consuming, especially if you're the only person taking care of your animal. Be sure you have the time to take care of a pet. You don't want to have to leave your furry friend in your room for hours on end with no food and no way to use the bathroom. They can get lonely too! Leave some time before, between, or after class or meetings to walk your friend, let them outside to do their business, clean their cage and feed them on a regular basis. Make sure you leave time for cuddles too!
(Tip: If for some reason you're extremely busy on a particular day, or you have to go on a trip and can't bring your pet, ask a friend or roommate to take of them for you while you're away. If your pet is cute enough, they'll probably offer to do it for free.)
3. Budget, budget, budget!
With food costs, living costs, vet bills and everything in between, having a pet can be pretty expensive. If you're low on finances or you're basically only making enough to survive, avoided taking your pet to college with you! You don't have to worry about taking care of another live while you're struggling to take care of your own.
If you do have the funds, make sure you budget accordingly! It'll be easier to spend money on your pet if you already have some saved for them. Calculate monthly food costs, flea treatment, and vet visits if needed. Make sure you have the essentials for them as well, such as a bed or crate for your dog, a litter box for your cat, or a tank for your beloved python.
(Tip: Some apartment complexes charge a monthly fee for keeping a pet in your apartment. Check with your landlord or complex manager for more information.)
4. Clean your pet, seriously.
Some people forget that just like humans, animals also need to keep clean somehow. Luckily if you're a cat owner, you usually won't have to give them a bath. But for other animals like dogs and caged animals, they will need to be cleaned on a regular basis! You don't want your space to constantly smell like a petting zoo! Give your dog a bath at least once every two weeks (or more if your particular breed needs it) and clean your fish, hamster, guinea pig, bun bun, or reptile's tank or cage twice a week. It'll keep your place smelling nice and your pet happy as a clam!
(Tip: You can also buy products online that specifically eliminate pet odor! Check Amazon or discount online pet stores to find the perfect products at low prices.)
Having a pet while you're in school can be equally rewarding and challenging. Be sure that you're ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a life that will fully depend on you! Love them as much as you possibly can this upcoming school year and they will be forever grateful for you.