College with Dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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College with Dog

Hello all, I imagine I'll be told not to consider a dog during college, but figured I'd see what is said anyway.
So here is my situation.
I am currently a Senior in high school, and I've been dual enrolling (taking college classes at the local college) for over 2 years now. This semester I've been going to college full time, with no actual high school classes.

Living Situation: I live with my mother. I am an only child, and my father died of cancer, so she not only will allow me to live with her while I attend college, but actually wants me to. We are very close, and there is no foreseeable reason I will be without a place to live unless we are affected by some sort of disaster/tragedy. Additionally, the house we live in is owned with both of our names on the deed, and we have a half acre back yard. (Although the dog will of course be able to run with me, as I go for runs at the local park most days).
Financial: I currently have about 5k set aside that functions as an emergency fund. So I can afford unforeseen vet bills. My mother has also agreed to help me as far as food and essentials, though I have enough monthly income to cover these things as I sell handmade goods on Etsy (though I understand this is a rather unreliable job.) Additionally, I am eligible for the FL Bright Futures Scholarships's Academic Scholar award. This is a scholarship that covers the cost of college, up to 120 credit hours. (I only need about 88, as I've done so many through dual enrollment).
Time: I currently am away from the house roughly 3-4 hours daily, but could come halfway through this time as well if needed. Starting next fall I will be at classes 4-6 hours a day, perhaps less if more of the classes are online. However, it may be more like 2 hours one day, 8 another unless I have shorter classes every day as I do now. This will be for about 1.5 years, then the rest of my classes will be online (That's the way this program is set up). Many would say having a dog takes away my opportunity to socialize and have fun, but I'm pretty introverted. The last time I had someone over was spring break of last year, and prior to that it must have been nearly 2 years. I'm not one to go to parties or all night study sessions either. Additionally, I know I can handle the load of course work and still have plenty of time left over, since I've been dual enrolling so long.


This wouldn't be my first dog, I've previously owned a Shetland Sheepdog, a Border Collie, a Great Dane, and most recently a Cocker Spaniel. All of these animals were kept until they past at an old age, except the Border Collie, who was rehomed to a family member, as they wanted a Collie to help them with herding their sheep, and we felt the dog would be more satisfied being able to have a job (We had lots of land, but nothing for her to herd because if she got near a chicken she would kill it). So this dog isn't a spur of the moment idea because it would be fun. This has been considered and planned, ever since my Spaniel died (Died at roughly 14 years, which was a long time for her since she had heart damage due to an extreme case of heart worms when we rescued her).

I am considering a puppy in lieu of an adult since I have a lot of time to dedicate to it in the upcoming year, and my mother is willing to help out. She wants the dog as well, since she feels it's appearance, once it is grown, will be a bit of a deterrent as we are two women living alone. I also would prefer a younger dog as I'd be interested in starting from scratch, taking classes at the local kennel club and perhaps doing Novice obedience trials. If I do get a puppy, it would be from a reputable breeder, that tests OFA, DM, etc, and tries to pick dogs of a suitable temperament for their customers.

Am I being overly idealistic, or missing something obvious?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 04:05 PM
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Sounds like mom is also wanting a dog which is good since she will need to be doing part of the work.

What you need to decide is if you will have time. College sucks up a lot of time even if you are not in a lot of classes. Studying, social time, classes, extra stuff depending on your major. Of course right now you are still in high school so the puppy would not be a puppy anymore once you started college.

Take time, weigh all of the pros and cons, don't allow your heart to totally guide you (yes, I know it is hard at times when we want a dog) and I think you should be able to make a sound decision. Good luck.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 04:20 PM
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I have two dogs right now. Soon to be possibly 3 and go to college full time and work part time. I have no social life but that's fine. It's not easy to do but you really have to work hard to figure out a schedule that's fair to the dog. Luckily my partner lives with me and we have come up with a schedule where the dogs are only left alone 2 hours two days per week. It's possible but I wouldn't reccomend it unless you are extremely dedicated.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 04:22 PM
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Also I live in a apartment, It sounds like you are dedicated and could handle it.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 04:30 PM
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It will all depend on your goals for college. If you just go to college and forget about all around it like extra curricular activities, sports, hanging out with friends, parties etc, yes, than you could do this. GSDs take up a lot of your time, esp as puppies in order to get a good dog. Think before you leap. Sometimes the idea is a lot more romantic than reality. Also consider costs. One accident or illness can wipe out your bank account. At least consider health insurance for your dog. The purchase price of a good pup is just the start.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 07:36 PM
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I'm impressed by what you've written so far and by your obvious commitment to having a GSD. There are some things that, in addition to the good suggestions above, I'd suggest you consider as you reach a decision:

1. Have you considered what type of GSD you'd like (e.g., show vs. working line) and what you'd like to do with it? There are exceptions, of course, but, generally speaking, those lines have different drives/needs that will require more/less effort (i.e., training) on your part.

2. Speaking of which, what kinds of things would you like to do with your dog? Different activities will require more concentrated and consistent effort on your part than will others.

3. Have you considered an adolescent (6+ months) or adult (2+ years) dog? Each age can bond tightly with the family, but their needs will differ considerably, with different time demands. I saw that you preferred a puppy, because you'll have time for training in the coming year, but training can last well beyond that. Keep in mind that if you do get a puppy in the near future, it'll be entering the dreaded period known as adolescence just when your time may become more limited.

4. Consider putting together a detailed budget of expenses related to obtaining/keeping a dog. It's good that you have an emergency fund, but one unplanned surgery can wipe that out in a nanosecond. (Look into pet insurance --- lots of threads about the topic here --- as one way to defray emergency vet costs). Also, the cost of purchasing a puppy isn't the only 'upfront' expense you'll encounter; unless you have everything to hand already, there's equipment (e.g., collars, leashes, crate), well puppy visit, food, toys, etc., etc.

5. Consider waiting until you've concluded at least the first year of college before getting a dog. I see that you've been dual enrolled (again, impressive), but that's not quite the same as full time enrollment in a college program. The reality of scheduling, etc. may be different than what you anticipate it will be. You can use that time to investigate lines, find a good breeder, or breed rescue. .

Having said all that, I am sympathetic. I had a dog while in college and never once regretted it. (Well, the reality of living with an Airdale gave me pause, but that's a different issue ). It took a lot of time and effort. I did have a roomie, but it was my dog and my responsibility. All four years. Would I do it again? Not sure, it was a different time and place. But, I believe if you want something badly enough, research your options, plan carefully and then go for it.

Good luck.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aly View Post
I'm impressed by what you've written so far and by your obvious commitment to having a GSD. There are some things that, in addition to the good suggestions above, I'd suggest you consider as you reach a decision:

1. Have you considered what type of GSD you'd like (e.g., show vs. working line) and what you'd like to do with it? There are exceptions, of course, but, generally speaking, those lines have different drives/needs that will require more/less effort (i.e., training) on your part.

2. Speaking of which, what kinds of things would you like to do with your dog? Different activities will require more concentrated and consistent effort on your part than will others.

3. Have you considered an adolescent (6+ months) or adult (2+ years) dog? Each age can bond tightly with the family, but their needs will differ considerably, with different time demands. I saw that you preferred a puppy, because you'll have time for training in the coming year, but training can last well beyond that. Keep in mind that if you do get a puppy in the near future, it'll be entering the dreaded period known as adolescence just when your time may become more limited.

4. Consider putting together a detailed budget of expenses related to obtaining/keeping a dog. It's good that you have an emergency fund, but one unplanned surgery can wipe that out in a nanosecond. (Look into pet insurance --- lots of threads about the topic here --- as one way to defray emergency vet costs). Also, the cost of purchasing a puppy isn't the only 'upfront' expense you'll encounter; unless you have everything to hand already, there's equipment (e.g., collars, leashes, crate), well puppy visit, food, toys, etc., etc.

5. Consider waiting until you've concluded at least the first year of college before getting a dog. I see that you've been dual enrolled (again, impressive), but that's not quite the same as full time enrollment in a college program. The reality of scheduling, etc. may be different than what you anticipate it will be. You can use that time to investigate lines, find a good breeder, or breed rescue. .

Having said all that, I am sympathetic. I had a dog while in college and never once regretted it. (Well, the reality of living with an Airdale gave me pause, but that's a different issue ). It took a lot of time and effort. I did have a roomie, but it was my dog and my responsibility. All four years. Would I do it again? Not sure, it was a different time and place. But, I believe if you want something badly enough, research your options, plan carefully and then go for it.

Good luck.
1. I'm not a fan of the extreme angulation the show lines go for, I'm more a fan of what the breed was originally bred for. Plus, while I realize it varies a lot from breeder to breeder, it has been impressed upon me that show lines are often bred based on conformation and appearance, while working lines are more focused on temperament and ability to do the job they were designed for. (Although these are blanket assumptions, just what I've heard. Please correct me if this is quite wrong.) So based on this, I'd be seeking a working line pup. However, I'd find a breeder who could match me with a dog they feel suitable (since they'd be a better judge of the pup's drive).

2. I'd be interested in obedience trials, though there is a somewhat proximal schutzhund club I plan to visit to get a feel for other possibilities.

3. I have considered an older dog, though I worry about finding a dog that had been well socialized prior. Bringing home a dog from a rescue or rehoming situation can work, but I feel training could be harder unless their previous handler worked with them quite a bit. I am of course willing to look into it though.

4. Thank you so much for this idea! I had figured food prices and annual vet bills for "average" years, but putting together a proper budget would probably help quite a bit. I'm sure it could be sobering to see how the costs pile up. Thankfully, we do have pet insurance.

5. I'll keep researching, the soonest I'd consider would be around December anyway, I suppose I just thought now was good since I could dedicate more time. But touché.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfy dog View Post
It will all depend on your goals for college. If you just go to college and forget about all around it like extra curricular activities, sports, hanging out with friends, parties etc, yes, than you could do this. GSDs take up a lot of your time, esp as puppies in order to get a good dog. Think before you leap. Sometimes the idea is a lot more romantic than reality. Also consider costs. One accident or illness can wipe out your bank account. At least consider health insurance for your dog. The purchase price of a good pup is just the start.
We have pet insurance through my mom's employer, it has came in handy often from the various conditions of my previous old dog. Probably sounds like I'm being a smart-alek, but forgetting about all of those listed things sounds wonderful. I dislike playing sports, and always feel intensely awkward at parties. I'm pretty sure I'm romanticizing this though.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 11:49 PM
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Aly hit the nail on the head for everything. It's not necessarily about having a dog so much as the kind of dog when it comes to care. Some GSD's are the exception and total couch potatoes. Some never stop moving unless they're asleep. So think carefully on what you want and if you can get in touch with breeders who can provide that. The dog needs to fit your lifestyle and not the other way around. It's definitely possible, but it's not easy.

My mom is a single mother of three (though two out of three are adults - or so we like to pretend...), and recently a grandmother. She watched my 6 month old pup for an hour and told me she would rather watch my year old Nephew for a week straight than deal with my pup for a day. But my girl is a working line dog with high energy needs.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-22-2017, 01:08 AM
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You only live once. If you want a dog, get a dog. Just go into it with the realization that you have a responsibility.

I've gotten a puppy in the spring and a puppy in the winter. I found the spring puppy has been easier due to better weather

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-22-2017, 01:58 AM
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Honestly, given your detailed post I think you would do great with a dog in college. My senior year at Bates I took my shepherd, Harley, and it was a blast. He was a great excuse not to go out, which I'm always looking for (lol) and I feel like at college you have a ton of free time - so as long as you know you want to spend that time with your puppy you're set.

Only thing I'd say about getting a puppy in December is potty training and socialization if you live in a cold environment. With my second shepherd I made that mistake during one of the worst winters in DC history (this was post college) and she didn't get the socialization I wish she had, she also was THE WORST dog I've ever had to potty train likely due to the 3 foot snow drifts and weekly blizzards that made it almost impossible for her to walk out the back door.

Other than that... I'm jealous! Enjoy!

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