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The Scarlet & Black

Campus Pets: In our hearts and in our homes

Lily+Galloway+holds+her+Shiba+Inu%2C+during+an+informal+contest+for+the+biggest+smile.%0A%0APhoto+by+Rae+Kuhlman.
Lily Galloway holds her Shiba Inu, during an informal contest for the biggest smile. Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

Ally Xu

xuyanlin@grinnell.edu

It’s not easy being upbeat when life’s little bumps—looming work deadlines or troubled relationships—can muddle one’s mood and send

Lily Galloway holds her Shiba Inu, during an informal contest for the biggest smile. Photo by Rae Kuhlman.
Lily Galloway holds her Shiba Inu, during an informal contest for the biggest smile.
Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

stress levels soaring. Having a fluffy and unconditionally loving pet can often help, providing a source of comfort and valuable companionship.

For Paige Wheeler ’16, Lily Galloway ’17 and Beth Tsuha ’17, raising animals during their time at the college has helped them realize their dreams and improve their mental health. Their choice in pets also sheds light on how different animals can fit into the hectic lifestyle of a college student.

In order to have pets at Grinnell, students must follow a set of guidelines established by Residence Life that insures pets will be cared for, roommates give permission, pets will be registered with the RLC and pets will be properly housed. Pets on campus include amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates and non-ferret rodents.

Wheeler’s decision to raise a guinea pig was largely due to close familiarity.

“I’ve had guinea pigs for most of my life,” she said. “I had a guinea pig when I was really little and then I had one, an extraordinarily old one, when I went to college. Since I was living in a room with my roommate in my first year, I didn’t bring it with me.”

Galloway had a dream last spring that encouraged her to raise a Shiba Inu named Star.

Photo by Rae Kuhlman.
Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

“I had a dream that I got a dog over spring break last year. I was in Norris where I lived at the time. I lived in the fourth floor where I could see the field next to the Bear, where people walked their dogs sometimes,” Galloway said. “I was looking out from my window in this dream and I saw a dog, who was a Shiba Inu and then the dog came into my room.” 

All three Grinnellians agree that owning pets in college can have many benefits, from companionship to relaxation. Tsuha noted that spending time around animals, such as feeding them or even simply enjoying their company, helps to relieve stress that comes with college life.

“It is a nice study break, especially when I get really stressed out,” said Tsuha, the owner of a hedgehog named Coco.

Wheeler agreed that having a pet at the college has been great for her mental health.

“It is nice to have another living thing in my room, especially when I’m spending all weekend studying in there. They force you to take breaks, which is nice,” she said.

Galloway added that raising pets has helped her be more responsible in her own life.

“I am more responsible now because I have to take care of him, [making] sure he is fed and goes out,” Galloway noted.   

Nevertheless, owning pets can also be a big commitment of time and effort. Tsuha’s hedgehog Coco, for example, poops on the wheel while he runs, leaving her with the responsibility of washing the wheel.

“He poops and pees a lot. It does not stop him from running,” Tsuha said, “so his wheel gets really dirty.”

The greatest challenge of having Star, Galloway noted, is that he likes to run away and will try to escape whenever the door is open. This past summer, Star escaped Galloway’s apartment and caused some trouble.

Paige Wheeler holds her guinea pig, one of many that she has raised throughout her life. Photo by Rae Kuhlman.
Paige Wheeler holds her guinea pig, one of many that she has raised throughout her life.
Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

“It was late at night, I fell down on the stairs coming from my apartment and my glasses fell off. While I was distracted, [Star] slipped out and ran away,” she recalled. “There happened to be two elderly people riding their bikes and they followed him.”

For Wheeler, finding someone to take care of guinea pigs over breaks has been difficult, another consideration she has had to keep in mind for her pet.

“It is kind of a hassle when we go on breaks because I have to find someone to take care of them on campus or have to take them home with me, which means that I can’t carpool,” Wheeler said.

In spite of these troubles, however, the trio all value the time that they spend with their pets and feel inspired to possibly raise more in the future.

“Someday I want to own dogs from all over the world,” Galloway said.

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