Furry babies: Parenting is ruff

College is a fast-paced and stressful time of life that calls for stress relief one way or another. Many college students turn to a furry friend to calm them when the semester is getting rough. Personally, I find that just a little time with my horse can make the troubles of the day melt away. My professors may not know it, but I owe some of my best writing to having my cats curled up with me. No matter what the animal of choice is, the result is often the same – a calm and happier state all because of our furry babies. They do so much for us just by being themselves, but what is it that they need from us?

I believe many of us think about the short term and the smiles pets bring us and forget that adopting a pet is a commitment. Students are especially prone to failing to realize the long-term implications of some pets before jumping into adoption. College is fast-paced and for the most part chopped up into neat semesters, making looking past the next four years hard to think about when looking into those big, brown puppy dog eyes.

Puppies are never going to stay just puppies, and once they grow up into man’s best friend, they will hold that title for more than a decade in some cases. A decade is a long time to commit to anything like a job or place to live, and so is taking care of a living, breathing animal that relies solely on you for everything. In a time like college when everything is shifting and changing, making sure to have a pet friendly place to keep your pet, and setting aside time and money to take care of them, is a big decision.

When anyone who has a love for animals looks a kitten in the face, the first thing that comes to mind is all the cuddles and entertaining antics. What doesn’t come to mind is the litterbox training attempts and trying to find cat food that they will eat. Like most things in life, pet ownership comes with the sunshine and the rain. Even though the sunshine well outweighs the rain when it comes to pet ownership, it is important to understand the whole picture before jumping in.

I have volunteered for years at the Darlington Humane Society and have seen far too many good pets go on boomerang adoptions where they end up back in the shelter after a few months. Fall into Christmas time is when the highest frequency of boomerang adoptions happens. Pets will be adopted as a gift or cold weather cuddle buddy but once caring for the animal comes into play, things get hairy and they end up back in a shelter. The care aspect goes further for exotic or more uncommon pets like snakes or amphibians. These types of pets require very specific care that is often more intensive than caring for a dog or cat. Because of this, picking the right type of pet to fit your lifestyle is very important.

All that is not to say you shouldn’t get a pet, but simply make the decision more seriously. Pets are well worth the time and effort to keep them as happy as they make you, so do the research. They won’t just make your life better; you can make theirs better as well. When you adopt a pet, you aren’t just making a life changing decision for your life, you are making one for another as well.