My Husky, Me, and Vet School
When I chose to go to veterinary school 3,000 miles away from my home in Arizona, I was determined to bring my young husky pup, Mila, with me. Driving cross country with her for five days was just the beginning of our vet school journey.
Now, nearly finished with my first semester, I can say that having Mila with me has provided the emotional, mental, and physical support that I needed after moving away from my family and starting a rigorous academic program.
Although I highly recommend having a pet during veterinary school, pets are a huge responsibility, especially for veterinary students with a heavy class load and minimal free time.
With this is mind, here are five tips for how to succeed in school while benefiting from pet companionship:
- Choose Wisely
It’s important to consider the care, attention, and physical needs of each type of pet. Young pets will require more time and energy for walks, play, training and socialization. Dogs require more attention than cats or other small pets such as birds, but a young kitten could spell disaster for your landlord’s carpet! Want the benefits of animal companionship without the headaches young pets can give? Consider adopting a senior pet from a local shelter. Whichever pet you decide to bring home, remember to choose wisely for your new lifestyle and time commitments.
- Play, Play, Play!
Taking care of my husky while balancing school life can be challenging, but I find that incorporating her exercise into my own makes sure she’s happy and I’m healthy. Whenever the finicky New England weather permits it I bike with her through the neighborhoods or run a couple miles with her by my side. Feeling stressed? An outdoor jog is a great way to boost endorphins while also keeping you physically healthy and active. Not enough time? There is always time to set aside to make sure that your life is balanced. Having a pet can provide perspective and encourages you to get outside and get moving, something veterinary students can benefit from immensely.
- Pet Networking
Although everyone aims to be the best pet owner they can possibly be, there will be times where an emergency comes up or for whatever reason you can’t be there right at feeding time or for a potty break. In these cases, it’s important to have a safety network of friends or neighbors that can help you and your pet out. Think about it like networking, if someone you know has a pet, offer to help in a pinch, and chances are they’ll be willing to do the same for you one day.
- Be Considerate
If you have roommates, make sure to try and be considerate of their needs and routines when bringing a pet into the household. Bringing a prey-driven dog into a household with a cat could spell disaster, while a young puppy could stress out an older pet and cause friction between you and your roommates. Also, be respectful of any allergies that other people may have, and never assume that bringing a pet into the house is what everyone wants. Make sure to set time aside prior to committing to a pet and allow everyone to voice their concerns or opinions.
It can be easy to become wrapped up in the daily struggles of exams, studying, deadlines and selectives, but don’t forget to enjoy the companionship of your pet. Stressful day? Play tug-o-war with your dog and watch it slide across the tile while trying to hold on. Bad exam score? Cry on your pet’s shoulder while watching reruns on Netflix. A+ on the anatomy practical? Celebrate with a dog park run and watch your best friend go crazy with joy. Having a pet in veterinary school makes sure you have a built-in support system that will always love you unconditionally and make any bad day better.
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