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My Fall as a 'Veteran' Pet Trainer

Fall finals are done and out of the way for undergraduates!! Yay! I survived…barely. Finals take an emotional and physical toll on just about everyone.

Angelica FrazerBut looking back on this semester, I would say the fall was, overall, successful. Throughout this semester, things got a little crazy in my house with my roommate’s two pets, an 11-month-old Great Pyrenees, Toph, and a 7 year-old-cat, Moo, as well as the service dogs I've been training that came in and out of the house.

Back in August, I started off with a white Labrador Retriever named Pokey. He got along very well with the other pets, rough housing and keeping Toph company and even bothering, with mutual respect, of course, Moo. Training a service dog during the semester can be difficult; however, what made it harder was my replacement dog for Pokey, who returned to the headquarters of Patriot Paws of Aggieland to learn more advanced training. He may graduate as soon as spring 2018 to a veteran in need.

In his place, I received a white English Golden Retriever named Woodward (or Woody, for short) in late September. Woody was a puppy of 7 months and only knew the command for “sit.” I had a handful in trying to balance training a puppy, keeping up with academics, and continuing my active involvement in my organizations like Pre-Vet Society and as an MSC Hospitality tour guide.

All in all, having to train a service dog, or even deciding to have a pet of one’s own, is a very difficult challenge while in college. It takes a lot of responsibility and time to care for a pet and, perhaps even more so, to train one. My word of advice is to wait before you get a pet and do some research on budgeting both the time and money that will be required to invest in one. If you already have a pet, look up ways to maintain your pet’s health by exercising, training, and feeding them healthy, correctly portioned food.

Best of luck to everyone still finishing exams and have a very Merry Christmas!