Tag Archives: pets

How to make it through allergy season

Spring allergy season is upon us and with so many irritants that make day-to-day life miserable, it’s necessary to prepare yourself now before it gets worse. This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.

1. Go to your local grocery or drugstore

Over-the-counter decongestants help in relieving your stuffy nose; antihistamines help in reducing sniffles, runny nose and itching. If your allergies are severe, visit an allergist who will be able to prescribe you medications that are long-lasting. You can even consider immunotherapy shots for long-term relief.

2. Get relief from drowsiness from allergy pills

If you don’t like the way your allergy medicine makes you feel drowsy and tired, try a saline nasal rinse — through a spray neti pot — to clear away pollen from your nasal membranes and minimize symptoms. You can even gargle with salt water to aid in soothing your itchy or sore throat.

Take your allergy medicine (look into a 24-hour allergy pill) before you go to sleep. Since many take one to two hours to kick in, it’ll start working while you sleep and when you wake up you won’t feel the drowsy side effects of the pill.

3. Stay indoors as much as possible

“This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.”

Check the pollen count online at weather sites, watch morning news, or download pollen count apps on your phone. You can also check pollen counts at aaaai.org, the site of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. It’s best to stay inside if the pollen count is high.

Pollen counts in the morning are generally the highest, so you should exercise in the afternoon. Check them before you head out on a walk, run, or an errand. If pollen counts are high, you should try to stay inside and do at-home workouts, or head to the gym. Don’t wait too late, however, because pollen counts are also higher in later hours.

4. Keep allergens out of your home

Take off your shoes and work clothes right when you go home. Take a shower right when you get home, or before you get into bed — to wash off any lingering pollen on your hair or body.

If you have an outdoor dog or cat, wipe their paws and fur off when they come into the house. Keep them off of your bed, just in case, to keep any lingering pollen from getting into a place where you spend most of your time at home.

Close your windows and keep them closed. Run your air conditioner to keep the air circulating throughout your house. It’s a good idea to change your filters often to remove any pollen, dust, and mold. If your allergies are more severe, try getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter to clear any allergens in your home.

5. Take your allergy symptoms seriously.

Allergy symptoms can lead to several detrimental effects on your health. Drink lots of water and rest whenever you can. Overdoing it when you feel miserable will only make you feel worse and will take a toll on your well-being.

The Ups and Downs of having a pet in college

College campuses are full of cute pets. Dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever else you can think of, I’m sure a student there has one. Some people that don’t have pets are always talking about how they wish they could have theirs from home at school or get their own to keep at school with them.

There are always pros and cons to everything though, and having a pet has a lot of both. It can be a great experience, but also a pain to have another responsibility on top of everything you have going on with school or your life outside of school.



One of the downs of having a pet in college. Graphic by Katie Gibson
One of the downs of having a pet in college. Graphic by Katie Gibson

On the other hand, having someone to cuddle with every night and love you unconditionally is a great reason why pets in college are a plus. They are always waiting for you to get back from class and seeing you is the highlight of their day. When you take your pets for walks, everyone comments on how cute they are and wants to come up and pet them and start a conversation. Even if you’re alone, you’re never really alone with your pet because they’re like your best friend.

However, if you have a puppy it may be hard to house train them, especially if you live on the third or fourth floor. You will be up at early hours of the morning, every morning, until your pet is potty trained. They will whine and wake you up to take them out at 4 am and again at 7. How can you stay mad at them though, since they’re just so cute and lovable?

I got my dog when she was 8 weeks old my freshman year; she’s now almost two and I’m so glad I went through the struggles of getting her used to living in my apartment. I don’t think I would make it through some days without my dog and I’m very grateful I have her; the pros definitely outweigh the cons of having your pet at school with you.



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.

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.

The most common misconceptions about pit bulls

Pit bulls have gotten a lot of negative media attention in the past decade or so. Generally, any dog bites that make the news are  by a pit bull or “pit bull type” dog. However, this media coverage doesn’t mean that pit bulls are the only, or even the most, aggressive dogs.

One of the most common misconceptions about pit bull type dogs is that “pit bull” is a breed. Pit bull is simply a “type” of dog, and includes any pure-bred or dogs mixed with the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bulldog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Unfortunately this causes a lot of dogs to be put under the assumed “pit bull breed.”

Even Police Officers show their love for these sweet dogs. Graphic from The Examiner
Even Police Officers show their love for these Pibbles. Graphic from The Examiner

Another huge misconception about pit bulls, or (as I lovingly call them)”pibbles” is that they have locking jaws. This is a huge myth which has been manipulated by those who push breed-specific legislation. One of the biggest personality traits of pibbles is their extreme determination. If they latch onto a toy, they’re not letting go easily. It’s been misinterpreted as a physical deformity that makes it impossible for their jaws to let go of anything they bite onto. Anyone who has played tug-of-war with a pit bull type dog knows this isn’t true. They’re very determined and once they have their sights on something, they won’t let go.

BSL has been thought to protect communities from dog bites. On the contrary, areas with BSL tend to see an increase in dog bites by pit bull type dogs. Programs that promote responsible ownership and the reporting of dog fighting tend to see a decrease in accidents involving dog bites. The biggest issue with BSL is that it prevents responsible owners from owning these dogs, and makes the animals even more desirable to irresponsible owners. Therefore, these dogs are bred and trained by irresponsible owners who fight or neglect them.

Another misunderstanding about pibbles is that they have more behavioral issues than most breeds. I will agree that pibbles can be a little more challenging to train, but this is because they tend to be stronger than some breeds and therefore a little more difficult to control. However, pibbles tend to rank quite highly on temperament tests! Chihuahuas, ironically, have the worst score. When I adopted my pibble, Roxy, the animal control officers told me that she passed her temperament test with flying colors.

The most popular misconception of pibbles is that they’re more aggressive than any other breed. One of the most important factors in being a responsible dog owner, regardless of breed, is knowing your dog’s body language. I’ve been around poodles who were much more aggressive than Roxy. Although Roxy tends to be a bit possessive of her toys, this isn’t attributed to the fact that she’s a pit bull. Every dog has its limits, no matter the breed. Growing up I had a collie mix named Heidi. One day, I was being the hyperactive child that I was when Heidi had enough of me and bit me on the lip. To this day I still have a scar, but that was only one incident. We never had another issue with Heidi biting me, because I learned what her limits were.

Many people argue that it’s better to adopt a pibble puppy as opposed to an adult because you can raise them knowing they never suffered abuse and therefore will have a better temperament. I wholeheartedly disagree with this assumption. If anything, dogs rescued from abusive situations make better companions because of the relief they experience when removed from those situations. Looking at the demographics of animal shelters, it’s very apparent that pit bull type dogs have a heavier presence than other breeds. Because of this, I strongly advocate for the adoption of adult or senior pibbles. One of my favorite Instagram accounts (@rebeccacory) mostly contains photos of a lovely rescue pibble named Angel. Angel suffered unimaginable abuse and neglect and was horribly over-bred. Now, Angel lives a lavish and comfortable life with her mom, Rebecca Cory. It’s very apparent on Cory’s Instagram account that Angel is a loyal and loving companion and her life has improved tremendously since she was found in 2007.

Responsible ownership is vital to owning any breed of dog, not just pibbles. Just as humans have certain limits and pet peeves before we become agitated or even aggressive, dogs are the same way. Dogs became our friends thousands of years ago when wolves realized that if they befriended humans, we would feed them in exchange for loyalty and protection. In my opinion, pit bull type dogs are the absolute epitome of that loyalty. They will go above and beyond to please their owners. Some would say this loyalty has some faults because pibbles will become extremely protective of their owners, to the point of violence. However, I can say from personal experience that any dog would attack in the case that its owners life was in danger, but this is out of loyalty and love for their owners, not out of aggression.


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.

“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!

Highlanders Anonymous: My roommates are pigs

“So I’ve been dating someone for a while now…and he won’t admit to anyone what we are but me. I really like him but I don’t think what he is doing is okay…what should I do?”

I would be wondering why he wouldn’t admit or tell anyone about the two of you being an item too. Although it might hurt your feelings that he won’t refer to you all as a couple in public, maybe he has a reason for it. If you’re in a work environment, people often keep their relationships on the “down low” to ensure privacy and not disrupt workplace relations.

However, if that’s not the case, it could be that he is just shy. Perhaps he’s afraid of changing the dynamics in your peer group. Don’t just sit watching and waiting for him to show you the answer you are looking for. Try and be straightforward with your feelings. I believe that the key to a healthy relationship is honesty. Also, if this is a deal breaker, make sure you get that across when you bring this issue up.

“I really want a dog but I can’t afford the fee of the pet deposit for my apartment. Any tips?”

I’m sorry, but I’m guessing that if you don’t have enough money for a pet deposit, you probably don’t have the money to keep a pet. There are numerous fees every month for a pet: food, flea prevention, vaccinations, etc. If you aren’t prepared to pay those when getting an animal, then don’t make the commitment!

“Help! My roommates are pigs! I have tried to bring it up but they end up mocking me and leaving. I don’t want to live like this anymore. What should I do?”

“Help! My roommates are pigs!” Photo by: Caroline Leggett

Sometimes we’re stuck with roommates (and other not-so-friendly people) that won’t respect our standards of cleanliness. Even though it’s a pain, you’re going to have to just find your own way of coping. Try to make your room nice and spend more time in there or buy your own things so you won’t have to argue over people using the last clean spoon.

Hey, I’m pretty shy and I have been having trouble making friends in class. Are there any good methods on how to start a conversation without being too awkward? Should I just join a club or something?

I would say that most new interactions are going to be a little awkward, so brace yourself. I think that the best “method” to start a conversation is to just bring up a topic that’s relatable and take a seat with someone. That way you have time to talk and get to know one another. Joining a club is like being in a new little family. I definitely recommend that. You can make all sorts of great connections in a club.

That’s all for this week, folks. Don’t forget to submit your questions to Highlanders Anonymous too.

College can be RUFF

Many college students crave the attention and affection that can be generated from friendly canines, while their schools make it difficult to own and care for one.

Most dormitories and on-campus residential halls only allow pets such as fish, while banning dogs, cats, hamsters and most other animals. This could be due to the fact that hall residents could have complications relating to allergies, noise, and filth. It could also be detrimental to the animal to live in a condition where they could be among hazards with little space to roam.

“From a financial aspect, college students typically do not have enough money to afford a dog and all of its fees and needs on top of spending their money on school, textbooks, rent, groceries and more.”

Some students living in off-campus housing are denied the opportunity to house a pet as well, given the threat of large fines and sometimes eviction. Many rental companies require their residents to sign a lease agreeing to no-pet policies. Others require a high-priced fee be paid for each animal being housed within the residence. There’s also a chance of a pet causing major damages, which would yield yet another fee. Yard space is also an issue since off-campus college housing is usually in the form of apartment complexes; the doggies don’t have much room to play.

Although there are many college students who are responsible enough to own and care for a dog, there are also many that neglect to care for their dog in a proper manner.

From a financial aspect, college students typically do not have enough money to afford a dog and all of its fees and needs on top of spending their money on school, textbooks, rent, groceries and more. With spending money to spare, some college students are unable to afford quality pet nutrition, vaccinations, procedures and veterinary appointments which can lead to serious health problems for their dog.

A lot of time must be dedicated to a pet dog. Their walks, exercise, training, eating, and appointments all must be scheduled. College students are generally under a tight schedule with classes and also add on extra-curricular activities. What does the dog do while a student is gone all day long? Unfortunately, the dog is usually crated or locked inside for long hours of the day with a lack of necessary attention.

Many don’t oppose the idea of owning a dog in college, but hope people can think of the animal before themselves. From this point of view people believe if an individual is unable to devote their affection, time, energy, and large portion of their life to their dog, then it’s unfair to the dog to be under their care; they see this as abuse.

Dogs can be a great companion and stress-reducer for students, but can also be a worrisome hassle. Make sure you can be dependable for your doggies!

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.

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