More than man’s best friend
After a long day of classes or work, the thought of going home and doing homework for multiple classes would depress anyone. However, after being greeted by Fido and Fluffy at the front door, somehow that thought becomes manageable.
Stress is a part of everyday life, but how students manage stress determines success. Rather than resorting to medication or attempts to escape reality, a dog’s wet nose, a cat’s purr or a bird’s chirp is the wiser, cheaper choice.
On-campus students are prohibited from having pets other than fish in their respective dorm rooms, as outlined in the student handbook. Those who decide to do so face a daily penalty of $25. However, those who commute from home or live in an on-campus apartment are free to own pets.
For those who choose to own pets, keep in mind that pet ownership requires responsibility and financial maturity and may not be for everyone. If owning pets is still the student’s desire, there are several advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.
A 1999 study found that New York stockbrokers who owned pets had lower blood pressure than those who did not. Additionally, owning pets is shown to reduce the presence of chemicals that disrupt normal immune system functioning and contribute to the development of heart disease. A study from the American Journal of Cardiology showed that heart attack patients who owned pets during the study lived longer than those who did not.
For those searching for new friends or a soulmate, taking a dog for a walk, besides offering exercise for both the owner and pet, aids in social interaction and offers a conversation topic that helps build a connection without the shyness that often accompanies meeting new people. Walking dogs can also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in men.
One of the biggest benefits to owning pets is the reduction of allergies with children. According to the Clinical and Experimental Allergy journal, children raised in an environment with the dirt and dander from furry animals have a lower risk of having allergies or asthma, and other studies show children having stronger immune systems.
Those with debilitating diseases have also seen health improvements. Alzheimer patients with pets have fewer outbursts, and AIDS patients battle de- pression less frequently.
Pets are also natural mood boosters. Playing or just being near pets fosters the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Pets also show unconditional love in ways people cannot, which staves off loneliness.
Owning pets can be expensive. According to a National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association, over $48 billion was spent in 2010 on pets. In a 2011- 2012 survey, dog owners spent $688 annually and cat owners $535, taking into account only routine veterinary care, food, groomer/grooming aids, treats and toys. Students living in off- campus apartments should also remember that some landlords charge animal deposits.
Pets also require training, which can be time-consuming. Though dogs require more training than cats, cats do not respond or stick to training in the same way that dogs do.
For students who are financially responsible, love animals and like the idea of making fewer visits to their doctors, why not go to a shelter and bring home a best friend?