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Dog for a single grad student?


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Just some thoughts:

I have a 5-year old dog that *I* raised since puppyhood. We're a package deal :). Thankfully I live with my fiance so she'll be okay.

However, if you don't already have a dog, DON'T get one. They are good for stress relief, for sure... but they also add stress. You have vet bills, food, vaccinations, additional security deposits and licensing to think about; plus, little dogs have small bladders and need to go more often than big dogs, yet apartments (and sometimes, roommates) don't like big dogs. Then add the barking/noise, occasional accidents (getting sick, for example) - in more than one occasion I've gotten up at 3 AM and had to get out the shampooer to clean stuff, etc.

As for fostering... it's a lot of work. Don't do it - I say this as someone who HAS fostered. Plus, a rescue group will not let you adopt or foster if you're in college and don't have the time to spend on the dog.

Shelter dogs... they can come with a lot of problems too and they need a LOT of time and patience. My sister just had to rehome a dog we picked up from a shelter a year ago because he was not housetrained still (after two years!!!!) and was destructive. She's going to be a junior now and she has had no time to train. Thankfully he was a purebred and a rescue found him a suitable home (a family with a big yard). Since she's moving to an apartment with roommates, it just wasn't an option.

Edited by Teacher4PhD
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I've never posted to this forum before, but when I saw the topic it really hit home for a good friend of mine. My roommate's ex bought a dog with her with the understanding that they would care for the puppy together. A few months ago, he left her and even though she wanted to keep the dog anyway her ex didn't offer to pay for half of her care like food, vet bills, spaying, and other stuff that comes up when you have a pet. Maybe I shouldn't assume this, but you sound like you have done the exact same thing and are justifying it with the reason that your ex wanted the dog and that she "doesn't want anything to do with me." You didn't say anything about paying your part for your dog's care and sending a toy is hardly doing your part, so that is why I recommend that you not get another dog. You seem very fickle about this, and I won't comment about why your ex "doesn't want anything to do with me" but based on what I have read here I can kind of see why.

I don't know where you're reading this. That's not what the poster said at all. The ex decided to keep the dog. This is NORMAL. When I got divorced, we each kept the dog we were closest to (we each had "our" dogs) - I have not seen his dog in a year and a half because we did not part well. Doesn't make the OP fickle anymore than my not having relationship with my ex or his dog makes me a bad owner.

As for the last sentence, that is TOTALLY uncalled for. It's a personal attack. It seems YOU are projecting from something.

Edited by Teacher4PhD
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You have vet bills, food, vaccinations, additional security deposits and licensing to think about; plus, little dogs have small bladders and need to go more often than big dogs, yet apartments (and sometimes, roommates) don't like big dogs.

I never understood that. Some large breeds are way more apartment friendly than the smaller breeds. Great danes, for example, don't need to be and shouldn't be exercised too much. They are a great apartment dog in that regard. A lot of the smaller breeds are too high energy to be left alone and are way more likely to cause damage.

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It's really an issue of perception. You're absolutely right though. The idea that a big dog needs a big yard implies dogs just exercise themselves... the reality is that a high-energy dog needs exercise and training WITH the owner - quality time. Plus it gives people permission to dump dogs in the backyard, which IMO is tantamount to abuse.

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As for fostering... it's a lot of work. Don't do it - I say this as someone who HAS fostered. Plus, a rescue group will not let you adopt or foster if you're in college and don't have the time to spend on the dog.

Shelter dogs... they can come with a lot of problems too and they need a LOT of time and patience.

Just to clarify, not all shelter dogs are lots of work. I have had foster dogs from the shelter that were already housebroken and could be left uncrated without destroying anything. It's worth it to spend as much time as possible with a dog, whether you're adopting or fostering, before bringing it into your home. It's not fair to say that all shelter dogs come with problems or that fostering is impossible if you're in college. I fostered as a graduate student and scheduled time to train and play with the dogs into my day, the same way that I scheduled in office hours, going to the gym, and reading.

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I've never posted to this forum before, but when I saw the topic it really hit home for a good friend of mine. My roommate's ex bought a dog with her with the understanding that they would care for the puppy together. A few months ago, he left her and even though she wanted to keep the dog anyway her ex didn't offer to pay for half of her care like food, vet bills, spaying, and other stuff that comes up when you have a pet. Maybe I shouldn't assume this, but you sound like you have done the exact same thing and are justifying it with the reason that your ex wanted the dog and that she "doesn't want anything to do with me." You didn't say anything about paying your part for your dog's care and sending a toy is hardly doing your part, so that is why I recommend that you not get another dog. You seem very fickle about this, and I won't comment about why your ex "doesn't want anything to do with me" but based on what I have read here I can kind of see why.

Thank you, Russmuss, for stating the obvious. True animal lovers don't stop paying for their dog's care when it is no longer convenient, and besides, Donnyz89, if you previously were an owner of a dog and so responsible, why are you asking people here if its a good idea to get one? Shouldn't you already know since you had one already?

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I love that someone began this thread.

I am absolutely getting a dog once my coursework is complete. Prior to that, I have long-term custody of the dog my partner and I have been raising together for the past year (before I had to move away to grad school) - both he and I worried about my separation anxiety, both from him and our dogs (we have two, the oldest is staying with him), and I do tend to hunker down and socially isolate myself while in school.

I absolutely add my voice to the chorus of commentators advocating shelter dogs! They are a wonderful grab bag of physical and personality traits, and as worthy of love as any purebred.

If you can't hold out until post-coursework, cats are awesome, too, and wholly respectful of your academic priorities. Or, mostly respectful. Usually.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm so glad this topic is here. I'm a graduate student, in my third year. My coursework is all but done but this doesn't mean I have more free time due to lab work. I do get home by 5-6 everyday though.

I've been thinking to get a dog for months now, but there are SO MANY things to consider. It's frustrating. I found a nice chihuahua mix of 2 years from a rescue group that is reportedly calm and mainly interested in sitting in your lap and has no separation anxiety. But staying by himself in the house the whole day? What's the point in getting a dog if it's gonna be miserable?

Then there's the budget. Grad students, especially international ones like your truly, even fully funded have a tight budget and lack the comfort of family nearby to help out.

I think I'll go with fostering one for now. Even if it's abit more work than adoption, it has the no long-term commitment advantage and i will be able to see if I can manage to have a dog in my life.

OT: As part of my lab work I spend A LOT of time with rats and minipigs. Last year I had three minipigs that were like my pets and I hated to put them down when the time came. But rats are awesome as well. I'm in the animal enrichment committee and I get to play with them and try different ways to entertain them.

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I will add my two cents in here. I just started my first year in a chemistry graduate program. I knew I was going to live alone my first year, but I also knew I wanted to get a dog. I grew up with dogs in my home and actually raised dogs for the Seeing Eye during middle school and high school. So, I decided I would get a dog shortly after I graduated from college, train it over the summer, and bring it to grad school with me. I got a puppy from a rescue and she's been doing great. Yes, I have to come home at lunch on my long days to take her out and I've even had someone come in and take her for a walk on long days I can't get back. It makes life a bit more stressful, but it is much nicer having my dog to come home to. I take her on 2-4 mile walks morning and evening and that seems to be enough for her.

I will also say, with my program, right now I have it pretty easy- I have classes and TAing. We don't start research for the first few months and even when we do, we're not expected to get very far since we're supposed to be focused on classes and TA responsibilities. So, I take grading home to do, I study mostly at home, a lot of my classmates like my dog and we'll have study sessions at my apartment. So, it is possible to have a dog in grad school and live alone. I think my dog is pretty happy with the situation and I know I certainly am. Though my experience hasn't been without it's stresses (dog vomiting at 1am and I have to get up to clean it up the night before an exam, dog waking me up at 5am every morning to go out, etc), I have appreciated having my dog around.

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I miss my dogs so so so much. I've been bugging my boyfriend about getting a dog but we both know it's just not practical right now. He works overtime every week and I am away from the house for school and rugby for long hours during the days. And a dog is a huge commitment, especially if you get a puppy. I'm also not sure that I want to have to have a child-like being dependent on me when I'm this young. I don't want to have to ditch out on things because I have to feed and walk the dog. When you already have kids you do this anyways, so a dog makes sense.

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I never understood that. Some large breeds are way more apartment friendly than the smaller breeds. Great danes, for example, don't need to be and shouldn't be exercised too much. They are a great apartment dog in that regard. A lot of the smaller breeds are too high energy to be left alone and are way more likely to cause damage.

I agree with you. When I signed my lease my landlord (who manages several properties and has years of experience) said that the worse mix is a well-dressed professional woman who has a small dog. He says that every time he has rented to a person matching that description the apartment has ended up wrecked. As a grad student in shabby clothes with a big dog he felt confident that there wouldn't be a problem with me. She peed on the carpet once, when we first moved in, (most likely nerves) and has vomited once. I invested in an upright carpet shampooer when I was potty-training her, but she is very good and can go for twelve hours without a problem. I take my girl to the park once a week to let her socialize with other dogs and stretch her legs. She also gets walked for a few minutes 3x daily to relieve herself. She seems like a healthy, happy pooch- but this sort of thing isn't for everyone. I am a homebody, so even if I do have a free evening I am usually curled up on the couch with the dog, reading a book. Also, travel is difficult and expensive! Just weigh your options. Different strokes, and what not.

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