Bringing a dog to your off-campus home might seem appealing, but current dog owners say it’s a lot more work than imagined.
Though you may not see these dogs on Locust Walk like fraternity-owned dogs such as Teddy of Kappa Sigma, Bruno of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Sky of Phi Gamma Delta, several Penn students have taken on the responsibility of owning a pet individually. While deciding to get a dog for a frat is a thought-out and voted-upon issue, for some, getting a dog is more of a serendipitous undertaking.
This is how it happened for College senior Ed Cai, who decided to get his Samoyed dog Taco his sophomore year after a neighbor offered him one of their puppies. Cai had wanted a dog his entire life, but his parents didn’t allow it. When most of the litter was gone within two days, Cai realized he had to make a quick decision. Though he’d mentioned to his housemates that he wanted to get a dog, they were surprised when he actually showed up with a puppy.
"[Taco] started off really small ... hard to say no to a small puppy,” housemate and Engineering senior Angela Lee said.
Cai had to get used to coming home for lunch to take care of Taco and to the distraction pet ownership caused from his studies.
“I definitely don’t regret my decision at all, but he was definitely a lot more work than I thought he would be the first couple of months,” Cai said.
However, when Cai went abroad his spring semester of his junior year, the responsibility of taking care of Taco fell to Engineering senior Jack Weir, another resident of the house. Weir has been caring for the dog for about a year now, since Cai is taking a semester off for an internship with Facebook.
Weir explained that it was too hard to organize any sort of walk schedule for housemates to take care of the 50 pound Samoya. Although Cai pays for all of Taco’s expenses, Weir is currently his main caretaker.
“Jack does everything ... other people in the house just play with him occasionally,” Lee said.
Nursing senior Kassie Donnels also has help caring for her dog at school. Her boyfriend conveniently lives next door and is able to take care of her Miniature American Eskimo, Teddy, when she is at clinicals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Originally, the plan was for Donnels’ parents to keep the dog until she graduated from college. But after an internship in Albany, N.Y., she decided that she missed Teddy too much to wait. Donnels’ parents shipped the puppy in a plane to Philadelphia, where he joined her in August. Donnels and Teddy currently live in the Sigma Kappa chapter house.
“I sent individual messages to everyone in the house asking if anyone had any allergies and if everyone was okay with him,” Donnels said.
The response from Donnels’ housemates was mostly positive, as Teddy spends most of the time on the fourth floor of the house and Donnels takes care of him exclusively.
Donnels acknowledged the difficulty of having a dog on campus, especially walking him on Spruce St. on Friday and Saturday nights. Drunk people often get really excited and try to pick Teddy up or interact with him, which Donnels considers one of the worst parts of owning a dog on campus.
“People I don’t even know who are super drunk are asking to pick up my dog,” she said, laughing.
Both Donnels and Cai agree that their dogs have had a positive impact on their mental health.
“I’m definitely happier; he’s a positive thing in my life,” Cai said.
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