But this is a big responsibility. Parents are always saying not to get pets — “That it’s a big commitment!” they yell and shout, and they’re right. A pet is, at minimum, a ten-year commitment (because we all know fish don’t count), and that’s a long time. Where will you be in ten years from now? Let’s not even pretend you know the answer to that question.
More importantly, animals represent Life. The capital L is there for a reason: because they’re important and you have to respect their life forces and their validity as a living creature. You can ignore a cactus or a ficus, but you cannot ignore another living, breathing creature. And that’s a big deal. Don’t think it’s not.
We spoke with senior Dorothy Muldoon about her dog, Jack. “My childhood dog lives with me in my studio apartment,” she said. “The hardest part about being a dog owner with a student’s schedule is the unpredictability. I feel a lot of guilt when I can’t come home and have left him for too long. It’s really not fair so I try to make up for it with treats and more walks and belly rubs.” It’s true: a dog can be a great companion. But with great companionship comes great responsibility.
One senior, Mary Anderson, has a little tree in her Brooklyn apartment but, according to her, “it’s totally dying.” Take this as a sign: if you can’t keep a plant alive, pets are not the right choice for you. And if you want something easy to start off with, try a cactus. (This writer has one, and let me tell you: it’s great. It never bites me, it was really cheap, and it never shits on the Persian rug when I leave it alone for too long.)
When you don’t have time for your pet, things will start to go south. Cats scratch, dogs pee on things, rabbits chew through power cords. But that’s not their own fault; as a good pet owner, it’s up to you to make sure that not only are their needs met but also that they feel properly loved and adored. As a college student with a full course load and sometimes a job, it’s fair to be honest: you just might not have time to fulfill all these requirements.
In the end, we can all agree that pets are cool. But before you make the commitment and jump in head first, try a plant. If you kill it, chances are you’re not ready for a pet. If you keep it alive, maybe wait another year before you get that pug that you’ve wanted since pugs were trendy. In the meantime, get a cactus. They’re great, I promise.