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What to Do If You Miss Your Pet in College

A Seemingly Silly Heartache Can Actually Be Quite Devastating

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When you thought of your life in college, you likely thought of all the great things you'd experience: interesting classes, engaging people, exciting social life, your first real taste of freedom from your parents. You may not, however, have thought about all the things you'd miss from your pre-college days: homecooked meals, the feel of your own bed, the constant presence of your beloved pet.

While it may not be a frequent topic of conversation, it's surprisingly common for students to seriously miss their pets back at home. After all, your pet was a steadfast companion who, while possibly sometimes annoying, was also incredibly endearing. You may even be feeling guilty about leaving your pet behind, knowing that they don't understand why you left or where you went or when you'll be back. Don't worry, though; there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier for both of you.

First and foremost, don't be embarrassed! There are many things you probably miss about the life you left behind; the things that mattered most to you are likely the things that tug most at your heartstrings while you're away at school. You'd have to be pretty stone-cold to not miss a pet who has been a big part of your family, and your life in particular, for quite some time. Wouldn't it be strange, after all, if you didn't miss your pet and could just leave them one day without feeling a little sad or guilty about it? Don't sell yourself short by feeling embarrassed or ridiculous. Your pet very well may have been a big part of your life and it's perfectly reasonable to miss him or her.

See if you can say "hello!" during a Skype or videochat session. Will it freak your pet out? Probably. But it might also make them ridiculously excited. And just like phone calls home can be recharging and comforting during challenging times, seeing your pet might just give you the little boost you've been needing. You can see their silly face and know that they're just fine.

Ask your parents or other family members to update you about your pet when you talk. It's not unreasonable to ask that your mom, dad, siblings, or anyone else let you know how your pet back home is doing. After all, if another family member were ill or, conversely, had something hilarious happen to them, you'd want to know, right? So ask your parents to keep you updated about all the ridiculous thing your pet has been doing in your absence. It's not dorky to ask about someone (or something!) you care about and it will do your heart and mind some good.

See if you can bring your pet on campus for a day. If, for example, your campus allows dogs on leashes, see if your parents can bring your dog up the next time they come for a visit. As long as you follow the rules (be extra careful in the residence halls, where pets may not be permitted), you should be able to enjoy some time with your pet while also getting to see them explore and experience your new home-away-from-home. Additionally, your pet will likely get a lot of love from your fellow students. Pets on campus are usually pretty rare, so everyone seems to flock to friendly dogs, for instance, whenever they happen to be around. (Don't you?!)

If you're really struggling, look into how you can make your pet a part of your college life. For some people, having animal companionship is an important factor in their emotional and mental health. For others, it's just something that they truly enjoy and that makes them happy. If not having your pet around is a seemingly overwhelming challenge, consider exploring your options. Can you transfer to a pet-friendly college? Can you live off-campus in a place where pets are allowed? Can you do some volunteer work at a pet shelter or rescue program where you can get interaction with animals on a consistent basis? Keep your options open so that not having a pet during your time in school becomes an easy problem to fix instead of an insurmountable issue to overcome.

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