Puppy Love: Putting A Pause on Anxiety

By: Sydney McDonald | Reporter

College students are among some of the most stressed individuals you can happen upon. Moving away from family for the first time, having an increased academic workload, along with jobs and extracurricular activities, college can be a little (okay, maybe very) overwhelming. Feeling lonely and unincluded during this time can make you feel even worse, but do not worry, man’s best friend is here to save the day.

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility to take on, especially with the schedule that most students have, but many studies show that there are many pros to owning a pet. Along with companionship, health benefits, and being the ice breaker you have always needed, owning a pet can sometimes really improve a person’s mental health.

Rachel Severns, a junior at South Alabama, found her peace in a holiday surprise who she now calls Macy.

“I found a dog wandering around my family’s house over Christmas break,” Severns said. “She didn’t have any tags so I called animal control to come to pick her up, but by the time they got there I was already in love.”

Severns had been overwhelmed by the past semester, struggling with anxiety over classes and extracurriculars, as most college students do. Now, with Macy’s company, Severns feels the happiest she has since she began college.

“Finding Macy gave me something to look forward to every day,” Severns said. “Even though she was another responsibility her company makes it well worth it.”

Though some students pets are not surprises like Macy, they still seem to come at the perfect time. South Alabama senior, Paige Norgan and her dog Toulouse, have a long-lasting bond that began over two years ago.

Toulouse has kept Norgan on track during her years at South by giving her something to look after, which can be very beneficial to people struggling with depression and other mental health factors.

“He’s very dependant on me,” Norgan says, “so I have to be there to take care of him.”

While in college sometimes you have restrictions on pets, depending on where you are living, your financial situation, and your schedule. That is why Ashley Krantz, a South Alabama junior, waited until the perfect time to adopt her puppy, Rhett.

Having lived on campus up until the start of her junior year, she had nowhere to keep the puppy she had wanted for so long until she moved into a Mobile apartment complex that allowed her to finally make it happen.

“I wanted to wait until I knew I could take care of him properly before bringing him into my life,” Krantz said.

Trying to bring a pet into your life before you are ready for it is not going to be beneficial to you, or the animal. Make sure you are moving toward that goal of setting up a home for your pet, and in turn, this can also help improve your mental health by having something to look forward to.

Again, taking on the responsibility of owning a pet is huge, especially during a busy time in your life. The American Kennel Club has a great webpage and quiz you can use to help you decide whether you are ready for that responsibility.

If you are in the business of finding your forever friend remember there are many different ways you can find them, just here in Mobile. There are so many dogs and cats waiting to be adopted at the local SPCA, so make sure you go check them out before making a final decision.

If you are not ready to take on the full responsibility of owning a pet, you can still receive some of the benefits by doing things like volunteering at local shelters. You can spend time with the animals and give back to your community all in one.