When my roommates suggested the idea of purchasing a dog for our apartment, my response was a resounding “NO.”
If you can look past the $500 deposit our complex requires for owning a pet, the logistics of the entire idea were completely ridiculous.
Dogs are not civilized creatures. Dogs do not understand the concept of indoor plumbing. Dogs do not understand the difference between what is and is not edible. Dogs also do not understand the concept of personal space.
Then of course, there is the monetary commitment that dogs demand. Dogs require their own special food, veterinary care, supplies and training. According to raisingspot.com, the average yearly cost of owning a dog can range between $360 and $2,520 or more. That’s much more than a few college students can reasonably afford.
In a sense, dogs are like newborn babies that never really get past the infant stage. I am 20 years old. I do not want a large, furry infant taking up space in my overpriced apartment or peeing on my craigslist-acquired furniture.
It’s not that I’m an insensitive, cold-hearted human being. When I pass by the boxer puppy one of my neighbors owns on my walk to class, I make the same giddy noises and contorted facial expressions that anyone else makes when confronted with a small animal.
The difference between me and my roommates is that I do not see the point of paying hundreds of dollars for a thing that will only take up what little patience I have left at the end of a busy school day.
However, after a particularly taxing week, I found myself craving the company of a dog.
While dogs are uncivilized and do not understand societal norms, they are also loving and reliable. They have a strange way of sensing when someone is upset, and they have nice dog-specific ways of cheering people up.
According to a brochure published by Pets Are Wonderful Support, interaction with animals has been shown to lower stress and decrease loneliness and depression. Another study that focused on recently widowed women found that those who owned pets had much fewer symptoms of physical and psychological disease than those who didn’t own pets.
The psychological and physical health benefits are not just hearsay — they have real scientific research to back them up.
Does the neighbor I commonly see exiting the elevator with a handful of leashes and four small dogs have a lower stress level than I do? Does being tackled by four small dogs at the end of the day help him feel better after a hard test?
Maybe my ritual of visiting the Austin Pets Alive! pop-up adoption spot on South Congress when I’m feeling upset actually makes sense. And maybe this mysterious neighbor that my roommates have come to call “Dogboy” knows something that I don’t.
For now, however, I am happy to live in a domain where dog hair is not embedded into every soft surface, and I can go to sleep knowing that I will not wake up to find pee on my precious square of carpet.
When dogs can be trained to do my statistics homework, I might consider buying one. That will definitely help reduce my stress level.
For now, I’ll pack a small picnic and take a bus to Zilker Park when I’m in need of some puppy love.