As a new class of high school graduates prepares to leave home for the unfamiliar road to college, they must browse the aisles of Walmart for decent dorm room accessories, navigate the strange world of FaceBook, and clutch the paw of their loyal pet with a tearful promise to visit the dog park next December. Although arguably unpleasant, shopping at Walmart and figuring out FaceBook will be a necessary staple for the college experience for several to come. But, will universities soon discover the benefits to including our furry friends in the educational process?
“I don’t think that we should bring pets to college – there’s too many problems that could happen with a pet,” says Brittany Pulkrabek, an Economics major at the University of Southern California. Brittany, who has a pug back at her parents’ house, says that “some people could be allergic,” and “it’s really only acceptable for people with special needs.”
True, with pets come potential problems; however, school psychologist Alex Perkowski explains that “while complications could arise, having a pet at school can also help those who feel homesick and lonely in their first few months away from home. The drop-out rate for freshman is high – one in five students don’t make it to their sophomore year – so if a pet can ease the transition, it’s worth it. She adds that having a pet in school could “also help students come together in friendships and clubs based on a love for their pets. I bet it would encourage students to take more actions in animal rights, as well!”
Let’s not forget that socializing is a major part of the college experience. What better way to meet people than amongst an assortment of frolicking dogs at a beautiful dog park? It certainly beats an over-crowded fraternity house party. The Electrical Engineering major who has trouble meeting girls may discover that when he brings his rescued Chihuahua-mix Twinkles to the dog park, girls suddenly see his softer side. Yes, the dog park could teach students lessons their professors simply could not.
Tayler Murphy, an Art History major at Loyola Marymount University, believes that pets should be welcomed into colleges. “I don’t see a problem with it,” explains Murphy, a pet-less senior. “People are nicer when they have pets. Colleges would just have to make a few new rules to adjust to having animals in the dorms and on campus.”
Regardless of the potential problems, the benefits of having a pet throughout the college experience are clear. Getting up for an 8am Economics lecture, staying up all night studying, and fending off the freshman fifteen with daily walks will all seem much easier with a happy, playful pet by a student’s side.
The early Fall season means back to school for your kids, but what does it mean for your pets? Just because there aren’t any public schools for dogs, doesn’t mean your pet can’t get a formal education at home. All you need are the right toys. That’s right, dog toys can help alleviate boredom and loneliness, distract from separation anxiety, prevent behavioral problems, teach good behavior, reduce stress, and help channel pent-up energy. So in honor of back to school days, Animal Fair has compiled our list of ten educational toys that will help teach your pet!