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Sep 10 2017
by Emily McKeon

8 Ways to Cope with Leaving Behind a Pet

By Emily McKeon - Sep 10 2017

Amidst the chaos that is college, one important aspect of our lives seems to be overlooked. The pets who have made our lives that much greater seem like a minor heartbreak at first as we pull away in our vehicles headed toward our futures. Yet the days pass and with our rooms assembled, that tugging feeling starts somewhere in our chests.

For those students who are lucky enough to be allowed a pet fish or maybe a turtle in their dorm, this feeling maybe slightly alleviated, like a band-aid if you will. Yet that tugging may grow until finally a trip home after classes have ended becomes inevitable.

In recent years, according to the California Magazine, there has been an increase in emotional support animals being brought to campuses across the United States. While there is a heated argument as to whether this should be allowed, many students find that the therapy dogs and other animals that are brought to campus by the college itself during particularly stressful times essentially serve the same purpose. Now, as all pet owners know, their pets bring comfort and a sense of calm. Losing this can be difficult for some.

These eight tips are for the students who are far enough away from home that they start to miss their self-proclaimed “child.”

1. FaceTime often. 

This is what I find to be the most relieving if I am away from home for extended periods of time. FaceTime not only keeps me connected to my parents, but my two dogs as well. It may seem ridiculous at first, but you will find that it is well worth it.

2. Family day is prime time. 

If your school has a “Family Day," “Family Weekend,” etc., tell your family to bring along the pets if possible. Pets are always a hit on the campus quad.

3. Tumblr is your friend.

Even if you don’t have a Tumblr, this site is guaranteed to be a minor relief from homesickness. Everyone loves those adorable kitten pictures or that dog that likes to stand on random objects. That funny gif of a dog running in its sleep will have you smiling before you know it.

4. Visit the zoo.

Similar to Tumblr, this will take your mind off of your “child” back at home while still surrounding yourself with animals. I find that the goats are especially therapeutic, and if the zoo has a petting area, bonus points!

5. Cuddle with therapy animals. 

If your college provides therapy animals during finals or other stressful times, take advantage of it! These animals are specially trained and will no doubt bring comfort to you.

6. Get a stuffed animal. 

Yes, this sounds like the solution for a child, but it is clever. There is a stuffed animal company that makes an exact replica of your pet. As creepy as it sounds, it is nice to always have a little reminder.

7. Spot a look-alike.

There is no harm in walking up to a friendly person and asking to pet their dog. If you are lucky enough to have a so-called “cat cafe” or “dog cafe” near your campus, take advantage of it! Pet until your hands fall off.

8. Visit home. 

If your campus is located close enough to your home that you can visit every weekend, do it. The problem here is if it becomes a financial burden to make the trek home often. Chances are your school’s schedule will allow for you to visit home for an extended time at some point in the semester, so you will be able to spend ample time with your pets.

So as we sit on top of our neatly-made beds and glance around our clean rooms that will never be clean again, think of the four-legged friends, shed a tear and then call our parents to ask how our “children” are doing during the whole day since we last asked about them.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Emily McKeon - Drexel University

Emily is an English student at Drexel University. She has written for CollegeXpress, Spoon University, the Triangle, and currently edits for MAYA Literary Magazine as well as here at FreshU. Follow her on Twitter @mckeon_emily!

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