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Willow enjoying the amphitheater at Clemson

With the COVID-19 pandemic enduring, college students find themselves (or they should, at least) spending more time in their apartment. Even when you’re living with your best friends, the daily toll of life as a college student can become stale. Before the pandemic, boredom or sadness could also fill your apartment on certain days. If you are (or were) a busy bee and don’t face mundane tasks, you still might miss home or feel lonely at times. Luckily, there's a solution for all the off-campus Clemson students out there: adopt a dog or bring your family dog up for a little Clemson visit! Here, a visit would mean a few weeks. Or a couple months. Or maybe, while you’re at it, just have a dog live with you for the entire year. Living with your pup in college, despite the few unfortunate aspects, will truly improve your college experience. 

Living with a dog at Clemson is incredibly rewarding for several reasons. They bring light and love into your apartment, even on the bad days, and force you to take a break from homework every now and then. They also force you to exercise. Since the apartments at Clemson don’t have individual yards, you actually have to pause your Netflix binge to take the dog on a walk or run. Clemson offers a wonderful array of locations to get some exercise with your dog. Walking the Dikes or even taking a relaxing stroll around the amphitheater with the little guy or girl will make you happier than if you were clicking “play next episode” on Hulu. If you choose to eat at a restaurant, with your mask and sanitizer of course, you could bring the dog and enjoy eating outside. As long as you bring water for the pup and maybe a bone to chew on, they can accompany you and your friends to your favorite outdoor dining spots. If you can bring them along, it typically makes for an exciting experience as they discover new places and you get to see their bright loving faces. If you don’t bring them or can’t take them to a specific location, however, you may miss them more than you expect. I have found myself missing my puppy while hanging out at TTT’s or serving coffee at Starbucks, but as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. In my experience, there is nothing better than coming home to a dog that can’t control the speed that their tail wags or their overall excitement when watching their parents walk through the door. Sometimes knowing that your little buddy is waiting for you at home is all it takes to get through a class or a shift. If your dog is your shadow, you know you’ll get plenty of love and kisses once you return.

Owning a dog in college also increases your social interaction. If your apartment complex doesn’t have its own fenced area for dogs, Nettles Dog Park is a great place to bring your mini-me. Not only will your dog have fun interacting with the other dogs, but you can meet (socially distanced as of right now) other college kids who love their dog just as much as you do. Sometimes it results in a friend for your dog and a friend for you! If you get a little lonely and don’t feel like going through the effort of actually socializing, owning a dog is great. Also, your dog can be a little piece of home, if you are bringing a dog that you lived with before college. If you need to steal the family puppy for the year, your family will probably understand. If you want a dog at college but don’t already have one, just make sure you adopt, don’t shop. There are several shelters in Clemson with pups just waiting to be your homework buddy. However, don’t get too excited and go out and bring a dog home without thinking it through. Although dogs generally make you happier, there are some negative aspects of owning a dog while in college.

While the pros definitely outweigh the cons here, living with a dog during college can result in some slightly frustrating situations. For example, the amount of time and attention that dogs require can become a bit overwhelming on a college schedule. If you do find yourself leaving your apartment often during this interesting year, or if you’ve had your dog in Clemson before the pandemic hit, owning a dog can amount to more work than you would like. When enduring multiple classes in a row or procrastinating in the library for hours, you still have to plan around the dog’s needs. They will need to use the bathroom at least once every four hours, so you’ll have to make sure you can either run home to let them out or ask a roommate to do so. The last thing you need is to come home from a rough day of 4000 level courses (online in a study room or in person) to pee on the rug, and the last thing the dog wants is to be trapped inside all day. In addition, dogs come with a pretty hefty fee. With the vet bills, purchasing food and the multiple toys you can’t resist spoiling them with, it all piles up in the ol’ student bank account. Although these few things can be hard to work around sometimes, the happiness and joy that comes with owning a dog definitely overshadows everything else. 

As someone who has both lived with and without a pet, it is obvious what the most rewarding choice is. Although not having a dog does have some benefits, such as having a more open schedule, less financial responsibilities for other living things or not having to quiet a talkative dog at 2 a.m., it still doesn’t come close to how wonderful living with a dog is. There is something really therapeutic and loving when you open the door and a furry friend is excited to greet you, despite how well you did on that one calculus exam. 

Human roommates and friendships are extremely important for college students, and nothing much really beats spending time with the people you love. And yes, practically all of your friends will be able to go anywhere with you, as long as they have a mask, meaning you don’t have to rearrange plans for a plus one. However, dogs can make those late cook-out nights or campus strolls even better in a way that nothing else really will. 

Investing your time, money and love into a dog during college is a big choice. Please make sure that you can actually dedicate the time to a dog. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s worth it. Bird watching on the deck with your favorite pup or sitting on the couch as they bring their favorite toy up to you can instantly make you happier, and they’re happier just having you as their caretaker. Whether you need an exercise partner, a homework buddy or just want to add some chaos into your apartment, your dog will be there for you.

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