Three years ago today, I picked up my dog Rory. It’s our dog-a-versary, if you will.
I often joke that Rory is getting her Ph.D. in Puppyhood Studies with an emphasis on breed and a cognate in squeak toys. She’s a high-strung little muppet and sometimes a hassle, but I can’t quantify how much she has helped me through grad school.
There are plenty of studies about the purported health and psychological benefits of having a dog specifically or a pet generally. Nova’s Dogs Decoded special is a mind-blowing example.
I have plenty of anecdotal evidence about how my dog has made my life better. Between the snuggles and the walks and the squeaking reminder that other beings exist, no matter how hard I’m studying, having her around balanced my life out. After my first year of grad school I was craving companionship in a big way and taking care of a puppy was really good for me. When I was depressed Rory was a major source of comfort. She cracks me up regularly. She goes nuts when I get home, whether I was gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours.
I did a Google search looking for essays about grad school and pet ownership. What I found was a lot of people on discussion boards asking if they should leave their dog behind when they go to grad school.
I’ll say this–having a dog can be expensive and it’s probably not great for the dog if you work in a field that doesn’t allow much work-from-home time. But, I’ve noticed that the pet owners in my program are among the happiest people. And I know that my dog has been nothing but good for me. Except for that time when she got sick all over me and the car an hour from home. That I still have not recovered from.
Anyway, Rory obviously can’t read this, so I’m going to go show her my love and gratitude by throwing a tennis ball for a while.
“Thank Goodness for Walking My Dog” by Erin E. Templeton