Parting ways is hard—particularly leaving the fluffier family members whose barks and purrs echo through memories.
Students who say goodbye to parents, siblings and friends when departing for college compensate through texting and brief phone calls. These methods may work, but certain relationships are more complicated: those with pets.
“I left three dogs home when I came to Utah, and I find myself missing one of my dogs more than anything,” said Erin Gliddon, a freshman elementary education major from Las Vegas. “I can talk to people on the phone or see them on video chat, but I can’t video chat with a dog unless I want to look crazy.”
Owning a dog or other pet often helps family members find common interests, making these ties more important.
Communication assistant professor Rebecca DiVerniero said she doesn’t always get along with her mother and brother. Living far away from them could also dampen means of communicating and closeness, but grieving for their deceased dog and her mom’s interest in DiVerniero’s cat creates a bond between them.
She gave her brother a keepsake to commemorate the dog. In addition, her mom calls often and asks about her “grandcat.”
“[Having a pet] gives us something to talk about,” DiVerniero said. “One of the few things that connects my family is our love of animals.”
Likewise, Gliddon often wonders how her beloved dogs are doing, allowing her to maintain healthy communication with family members. Still, many students fill the void with something else.
A majority of student housing complexes don’t allow pets. Gliddon lives in Nisson Towers on campus and said she sees fellow students do numerous things for this reason. Purchasing stuffed animals, garnering photos and videos of pets, and taking care of other people’s animals sometimes suffice. DiVerniero said without the cost of pets, people can enjoy building other friendships.
Or, students stretch the rules.
Gliddon said fish are a popular option for those who need animals. Pets in student housing establishments often cause problems, though, and the rules prevent conflict among roommates.
Mason Brown, a sophomore accounting major from Oakley, said he faces enough distractions in the college environment; there’s no need for pets.
“I think it’s a good rule; we have enough distractions as it is,” Brown said. “[The] last thing we need is dogs running around our dorms barking.”
DiVerniero experienced the trouble with this firsthand. She kept her cat with her when living with multiple people, and its illness deterred relationships and blurred the lines of what was acceptable.
“The cat would just pee on everything, so she was ruining my roommates’ stuff,” she said. “I was forking over all this money I didn’t have, and it caused problems; we had to get rid of the cat.”
DiVerniero let the complicated situation lead to blame and anger.
“Even though it wasn’t my roommates’ fault, I looked at them like ‘my cat is gone because of you,’” she said.
Still, people can prepare for future pet owning.
Gliddon said in order to experience the joy of having pets, some of her friends watch animals when their owners run daily errands or can’t be around.
Owning pets should be positive; until purchasing one is plausible, students can find other opportunities.
“Finding some sort of hobby to get you out of the house, since I find being inside without pets unpleasant, and just being outside in the sun all day should be enough to relieve some of the stress [having a pet alleviates],” DiVerniero said.