Pets! Pets! Pets!

As an RA, I’m always hearing a discussion about pets somewhere.

Pets are good! Pets are great! Lots of people have pets at home that they miss! It’s great to have pets at school because they relieve stress! Pets! Pets! Pets!

There are also a lot of petitions that go around with things like, “Sign this if you want to be able to keep a bunny in your room!” and other things of the furry nature.

Although I am a huge fan of pets and what they do for morale, especially now that winter is coming, I am not a fan of the furry pet petitions because I am the person that the furry pet rules are protecting.

I happen to be highly allergic to fur, and believe me, it’s not fun.

So many of my friends have dogs, cats, what have you. My extended family does. I go to Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s house and five minutes inside, their dog and two cats have congregated on me and my mother (who is also allergic) and we’re popping allergy pills, puffing inhalers, and our eyes turn red and puffy and itchy and we seriously struggle to breathe with allergy induced asthma.

The Life and Times of Emily, Struggling to Breathe at Family Gatherings Since 1991.

It’s a serious problem for me. My best friends tend to have dogs. The person that I dated for my first two years at Alma had four dogs and believe me, going to his house to visit his parents was torture. My RA staff always has one day a year when we go to a petting zoo and I tend to pet everything I can that’s soft and furry, but the rest of the day is just a big inhaler puffing fest and I have to make sure I don’t touch any part of my body without washing my hands.

This makes it hard for me to have a pet that I can snuggle with at home. My brother has a tarantula, but she’s not exactly snuggling material. My parents don’t need a cuddly pet to snuggle with to be happy with their lives as high school teachers. But sometimes I just need to snuggle with something. I have a lot of stuffed animals and pent up rage when the therapy dogs come to the library and I can’t love on them.

So I looked into getting a college approved pet.

College approved pets are generally as follows: lizards under ten inches, fish that stay in tanks (why wouldn’t they stay in tanks?), turtles, tortoises, and probably hermit crabs.

What’s not approved? Tarantulas. Snakes. BIG lizards. Birds. And of course, anything with fur. (Unless it’s a certified therapy animal. Those are okay. Just make sure you’ve gone through all the therapy certification… stuff.)

So what did that leave me with? I’d already had two fish, Gabberdine and Starship Cruiser, both who had tragically died during the spring term to home move in May, and they had broken my heart. I legitimately cried when I flushed them down the toilet and my mom went around saying to people, “Be nice to Emily, her fish died today.”

So this year, after being fishless for nearly a year and needing a pet, I went to the pet store in Mount Pleasant and got myself a baby bearded dragon, who will keep me company for ten years. I named him Hamlet because, you know, I’m an English major and who hasn’t heard of Hamlet?

This is Hamlet. He’s under the ten inch regulation. In a year he’ll be really fat and two feet long and sit on the couch and watch Netflix with me while I’m crying my way through graduate school.

I suppose I’m writing about pets this week because as a slowly dying senior, I’m realizing how important pets are for your wellbeing while you’re at school. But it’s also important that our pets follow the college policy, no matter how stupid you think it is.

Because, you know, there are people like me that could actually die if you harbor a bunny in your room. (I mean, I probably won’t die. But asthma attacks are not fun and I enjoy having both of my eyes working, having a clear nose, and being able to breathe properly. I feel like most of us enjoy these things.)

If you have a cool campus approved pet, let me know. It can hang out with Hamlet. When I play him indie music he dances.

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