Vail Pet Talk: When a college student wants a dog |

Vail Pet Talk: When a college student wants a dog

Stephen Sheldon, DVM
VAIL CO, Colorado

So you are in college and you don’t have enough on your plate, right? No you say, dealing with classes, exams, social life, acne, football/coaching issues, roommates, Greek life, fake IDs, finding cheap food, filling out your sugar baby applications, and figuring out what you want to be when you grow up isn’t enough? Nope, you need a dog. Since I’m smart enough to know I’m not smarter than any college student, I won’t try to talk you out of it. Instead I’ll give you some guidelines.

I had a dog named Stoli when I was in school and my girlfriends’ dog was named Brandy. And yes, as those names suggest, we were alcoholics in training like most college students. Our dogs graduated with us, were with us when got our first jobs and when our children came along; they were great reminders of all the fun we had in college. And I have to admit; having a dog in college was pretty cool.

Getting a dog can be a good thing. Puppies definitely attract members of the opposite sex! They also impart an air of responsibility and sensitivity that people find irresistible. And whereas a roommate won’t, a dog will always welcome you home after the walk of shame home from the prior night’s hookup. Dogs are great companions, inspiring study mates and are fantastic therapists. Fail a test? Go talk to your dog. Score low on your MCATs? Take the dog for a walk. Your roommate is a slob? Sorry I can’t help you there, I was like your roommate.

Raising a dog in college can present a few challenges; here is a list of do’s and don’ts. •-Do take your dog with you whenever you can. You are away long enough during the day and to study and party so make sure you have a few hours a day for your pup.

•-Don’t allow your pet to imbibe; alcohol and illicit substances may be acceptable for people but not for pets. And if you do give your dog the bong water and he gets sick, own up to it when you are at the veterinary ER. In all seriousness I cannot tell you how helpful it is when someone has the courage to tell me their dog got into their stash.

• Do get a large crate for your dog. Dogs love them and they are comforting to them when you are away. We look at a crate like it’s a jail; your dog will look at it like it’s his cave under a loft.

• Don’t crank the stereo when your dog is around, their ears are way more sensitive than ours. FYI, dogs prefer classic rock like Aerosmith and AC/DC but deplore Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

• Do feed your dog a sensible diet; low fat human foods are OK but do not give any chocolate, raisins, onions, or macadamia nuts (and like I mentioned above, dogs do not partake in any 420 rituals). If you want advice on local cuisine I’d say lean Colorado beef is OK but I’d stay away from Mable’s Green Chili.

Like I mentioned above, men and women perceive pet ownership a little differently. Excuse me if I am being sexist but I’ve been in the trenches (and doghouse) for a long time. For you men out there, here is my advice if your girlfriend has a dog. Do not get in the middle when it comes to the dog. You will be shown the front door. Be supportive, be sensitive; her dog is her child. In other words be the opposite of what your instincts and hormones are telling you. For you women, don’t forget that your boyfriend views his dog not as his child but as his best friend. Don’t expect coddling but rather rough housing. And both sexes should remember, it can be lonely being a college student. Your significant others’ dog will always be there; will you?

Good luck with your new best friend and remember to stop and smell the roses along the way. Your dog sure will!

Stephen Sheldon, DVM is a veterinarian in Gypsum and a Florida Gator. He is a proud parent of a Tulane student and an Eagle Valley senior who refuses to answer the “where are you going to college?” question.

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