Tag Archives: cats

Having a pet makes you a better person

If you follow me on any social media, you know I’m obsessed with my dog. Besides the (obvious) fact that she’s incredibly cute, I obsess over my dog because of who she makes me as a person.

Ever since I adopted my dog Roxy in October, my outlook on life has become extremely positive — it’s impossible to be sad when your dog is so happy. I also keep her in mind when I think of my future plans, which motivates me so much more to chase the things I want. I often imagine myself living on a beach with Roxy frolicking in the sand and chasing seagulls. For some reason, having her by my side makes it much easier to picture myself where I want to be.

Having Roxy also makes me want to do better because she deserves the best. Dogs have enormous hearts and love their owners so unconditionally. I don’t think I could ever express how much I appreciate that unconditional love. In exchange for that unbreakable bond between my dog and I, I feel the need to work hard so she can have nice things like a big, fluffy bed and all the toys she could ever need.

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Radford student, Janie Maitland, with her dog.

Dogs also force you to live in the moment. There have been times where I’ve sat with Roxy and she’s taken her paw and knocked my phone out of my hand, forcing me to pet her. I began to realize after the 10th or 11th time that I was missing out on life because I was constantly plugged into my phone. Technology is great, but it should never take over your life to the point that you miss out on moments with your loved ones.

Dogs need constant exercise, so having a dog has forced me to get more exercise as well. Roxy and I often take long walks all the way around campus, which I never would have done walking by myself. She also loves to wrestle and play, which makes for a pretty rigorous exercise. Before I adopted Roxy, my weight would fluctuate from 125 to 140 lbs almost constantly. Now that I’m getting more regular exercise, my weight remains at around 133 lbs. I also have to be able to keep up with her so I’m more in shape than I’ve ever been in the past.

There’s something very zen about a sleeping dog on your lap that makes you slow down and appreciate the little things in life. One of my greatest joys in life is simply seeing my dog happy. When I take her to Claytor Lake and she’s allowed to run free, the big smile on her face as she runs about melts my heart.

Adopting a pet has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself because it forces you to work and play all at once. I don’t understand how anyone could be unhappy when there’s a sweet dog around. Having a dog may seem like a lot of responsibility, and it is to an extent. However, having a pet is a relatively inexpensive investment that changes you for life.

Don’t have time for a pet? Think again

Many people argue that college kids shouldn’t have pets because they take up time, effort, and resources. While I agree that many college kids are much too busy or don’t have the resources to properly care for an animal, I don’t believe that is the case for most college kids.

Having a dog does take some extra time, but not everyone can have the perfect home for a dog where he or she will be spoiled and given a perfect environment. Most people have many other obligations that they would have to balance with a pet, but that’s okay.

Thousands of animals are put to death every year because they couldn’t find a home. Animal shelters are extremely over-crowded and no-kill shelters can be very hard to come by. Because of this, I don’t think you have to fit a tight list of criteria to be a pet parent. Sometimes I see billboards encouraging adults to adopt children. These boards often say that “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” I think this saying should also apply to pet parents.

It takes love and care to be a good pet owner. Graphic by Katie Gibson
It takes love and care to be a good pet owner. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Having a dog or a cat is like having a child in some ways–but for the most part, dogs and cats are much less high-maintenance. Dogs can easily be left to roam the house while you’re at work. It’s not only illegal but obviously unethical to leave a baby free to “roam” the house while you’re in class or at work.

College kids may not have the most ideal situations for a pet, but who does? College students are much more flexible in their schedules than other adults are. I get to spend quite a bit of time at home with my dog, even though I have a full class schedule and a part-time job. With training, dogs learn that their owners aren’t going to be gone all day and find ways to entertain themselves with toys or naps.

Whether you have a full-time job or a full-time class schedule, chances are you may not think you have time for a pet. However, I believe you can make it work if you want to. There are so many wonderful pets out there waiting for homes, and in my opinion having to wait for their owner to get off work is a much better situation than being in a shelter with little human contact. It’s also most certainly better than being put to sleep just because someone was told they won’t be a good enough pet owner.

Rescue a dog and they’ll rescue you

I recently made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It was something I decided to do to benefit my mental and physical health. It’s something that’s going to take a lot of responsibility and dedication, but I’m ready for it. This week, I decided to adopt a dog.

Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom. I’ve already gotten a lot of discouragement from family and friends and as I write this, I don’t even have my dog yet! I’m well-aware of the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. I realize this dog isn’t going to be like my pet rat that I can leave in a cage all day, feed, and give minimal attention (only because she doesn’t seem to like people too much).

The reason I wanted a shelter dog is that they seem to know that you’ve saved them, and  show a wild amount of gratitude. My brother and his wife adopted a beagle named Copper. Copper is the sweetest, most loyal, and thankful dog ever. You can see the love and thankfulness in his eyes.

When I announced to my friends and family that I wanted to get a dog to help me cope with my anxiety, many of them asked if I was getting a puppy. I love puppies very much but I decided to look for a dog who was a little bit older. Puppies are cute, but they’re also very needy. They also don’t give me quite the warm-fuzzy feeling that shelter dogs do. There’s something so specifically special about a dog who’s been through so much.helter dogs often have wounds that we can’t see as a result of being abandoned by their previous owner. Although these issues may be a burden for some owners, I see it as an opportunity to help the dog heal their wounds, while also helping me heal mine.

Animals are very intuitive creatures. They know when their owners are sick, sad, happy or just need some extra puppy kisses. A friend of mine recently got a puppy and after spending some time sick in the bathroom, she got into bed and her puppy laid his head on her stomach. When I was a kid and  I was sad our dog, Heidi, would always come sit by me. I remember crying while sitting on my porch, with Heidi just sitting by me, letting me hug and pet her.

There’s very little research on what it is that makes dogs so therapeutic. However, people suffering from depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders reap many benefits from owning a dog or cat. Whether it’s the increase in exercise that dogs come with, or just having a dog to pet, there are undeniable benefits. I’m very excited to see where this journey with this dog takes me. Hopefully, I’ll see some of the benefits that are so common among those who opt for an emotional support animal.

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“Many argue that college is no place for a dog or that I’m young and not ready for the responsibility that comes with being a dog mom.”

Declawing may cause more problems than it solves

Cats are incredible companions, especially for college students. Most cats are very independent and don’t mind being left alone all day. They don’t even need to be taken out to go to the bathroom because they have litter boxes. Although cats are great apartment pets, sometimes owners don’t do the right thing for these pets.

When you’re renting from a company, there is worry about cats clawing on walls or cabinets. As a result, many of those who rent apartments or houses opt to have their cat declawed. Declawing isn’t anything new. It’s very common for a cat to be declawed, but is it necessary?

Should you declaw your kitten? Graphic from Catster
Should you declaw your kitten? Graphic from Catster

When a cat is declawed, it’s essentially the same as if you cut off the tip of your finger at the joint. Many cats who are declawed become crippled as they get older. Many times cats will try to avoid stepping on their toes by walking on their wrists. This causes arthritis and other joint issues. It’s essentially the same as when you were a kid and you stubbed your toe so you walked on your heel. Eventually, your ankle will get sore or you’ll get blisters on your heel.

Not only is declawing painful for kitties, it can also alter their behavior. Many declawed cats start to refuse to use the litter box because the litter hurts their sore paws. Also, the cat’s main defense mechanism is now taken away from them. This will result in aggressive biting and other negative behaviors. Many times cats are returned to shelters because their negative behaviors resulting from declawing are too much for owners to handle. It’s more common for owners to return cats for their aggressive behavior following declawing than for scratching furniture. It’s a cats natural instinct to claw at wood or other surfaces to keep their claws from growing too quickly. Cats often don’t realize they’ve been declawed until they hurt themselves doing what has always come naturally to them.

There are many easy solutions to keep your cat from clawing at your couch or other furniture. There are a wide variety of scratching posts for cats and once they realize that those posts are the only thing they’re allowed to scratch, your problem is solved. It’s much easier on both you and your cat if you train them to only scratch scratching posts or other things made for cats to claw at. If a scratching post doesn’t work, there are many different styles of scratchers for you kitty to try out.

As an animal lover and pet owner, it’s my job to do what’s best for my pet in the long run. It can take time and patience to deter your cat from clawing at furniture, but you must protect him or her from anything that could hurt them, such as declawing. A little extra TLC will have your pet behaving in no time, just don’t give up on them!

What to love about pets

We’ve all heard the expression “dog is man’s best friend.” Anyone who owns a dog knows that they are loyal, passionate, fun-loving creatures. Dogs aren’t the only pets that are renowned for the love and compassion they provide. Cats, gerbils, hamsters, birds and even snakes are capable of creating meaning in your life and teaching you more than you may think.

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Faith Williams with her pet Gerbil, Dixie. Photo by Kat Provost.

Several health studies indicate that a pet’s love can reduce tension and improve your mood. Continue reading What to love about pets

Angel tree for pets

While the semester is coming to an end, Radford University students have a lot on their minds. Studying, finals, projects, papers, Christmas, gifts, food, decorations and everything else that goes along with the holiday season fills the agendas of every student. As if we don’t have enough to worry about, there is one thing that we can add to that list of to-dos that will be beneficial to everyone. Continue reading Angel tree for pets