Could You Handle a Pooch?

Yeah she's cute, but could you handle all the responsibility?

Occasionally on college campuses you will spot a student walkin’ a pooch, but those incidents are few and far between. Since college is mostly about studying hard and partying along the way, most students don’t want the responsibility of caring for someone other than themselves – especially a four legged friend. That will poop in their shoes.

My boyfriend recently adopted a mutt from the local pound. He knew he could give her (Shyla) a good home with his off-campus house, and since then the two of them have been on adventure. While part of the time (OK – most of the time) the antics brought on by Shyla seem like they were written straight out of Marley and Me, it is hard to deny the cute, active sweetness of an eighteen week puppy playing fetch and snuggling up next to your feet.

Just as anyone who has ever had a dog knows, pups are all-encompassing hard work. There is the whole process of getting the dog acclimated to living in a house: potty-training, keeping them out of the trash, getting them used to walking on a leash… Honestly, getting a dog to “sit” isn’t as easy as it seems, so patience and a little bit of loving care is important too.

Oh, and if house-breaking a puppy isn’t enough, there is also the importance of grooming and professional pet care. You thought getting a manicure and pedicure at the local nail salon was expensive, try $15 for a dog groomer to just cut your pet’s nails. When you’re not grooming your dog, it is crucial to its health (especially as a puppy) to have regular vet visits – costing up to $100 or more at a time. Having a dog takes a lot of focus away from yourself, which means a lot less money for the seasonal (or daily) shopping tips.

But even though it is expensive and trying at times, having a dog can be a rewarding experience. Yeah, even if it leaves a little puddle by your bed.

Not sure if a dog is for you, at least while you’re in college? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

Good: You have a bed buddy every night, and you know for sure they don’t have STDs or Swine Flu! And they won’t sneak out before you get up in the morning and be there when you get u,p providing you undivided attention with a wagging tail.
That Tommy Hilfiger comforter you just bought is going to smell like dog, and if you don’t keep Fido’s nails short enough, it might suffer a rip and tear.

Good: You always have something to look forward to at home. Imagine having a crappy day on campus and coming home to a precious puppy excited to see you.
Dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours a time, so you will need to prioritize your schedule and social life around taking care of your new-found responsibility.

Good: Having a dog will make you more active. You will be going on more walks and once you get your little friend outside, it will be hard to bring them in, making you want to stay out as well. You can keep yourself more in-shape this way!
: Dogs can be too active sometimes, forcing you to constantly watch them. If they have a lot of pent up energy, they may get into things around the house. For example, Shyla likes to explore the house and with her extra puppy energy, it means she gets into everything she can, whether it is my boyfriend’s economics homework or the bathroom’s endless stash of toilet paper.

Good: Dogs make great introductions in a social setting. In a sorority? Bring your puppy with you for a low-key function. Everyone will dote over how cute your dog is, and you can play the proud, happy dog-loving parent as she gets passed around.
Taking a dog to a public function could cause problems. Some people aren’t dog-friendly, and others don’t take having a dog seriously. Think about it: How many frat boys are going to try to give your dog beer?

The bottom line is that dogs are a huge responsibility; in fact, they are a life-time commitment. Do you think you could handle one in college?

Saturday Read: Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
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