Pets in College — Rescue Ferret Saga or Illegal Alien in Academia

Do you ever look at your ringing phone and stare at it in contemplation as if it’s daring you to answer it — like Bob Barker asking you if you want what’s behind the curtain or in the box and you just want to turn off the proverbial television and crawl into bed? But then you have useless trivia in your head and it compels you to answer it. For example, did you know Bob Barker ended every episode of TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES with the line,  “Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.”

So I answered the phone last Sunday night, early evening but after dark to be specific, and lo and behold, local university campus police had taken in a ferret running amok in a dorm — an illegal alien in academia! And then they found me (they always seem to find me) and asked if I could take the little creature. They had wrangled her into some corner, placed her in a large cardboard box with a strawberry, and it was quite clear that no one was going to step forward to claim the ferret since she was illegal in the first place.

I heard myself agreeing to take her in and let them bring her to me within the hour. I asked them to let it be known that I had the ferret and the real owner could step up and let me know, without penalty, and help guide where the little one should go. I definitely do NOT want a ferret!

I was bemoaning the agreement to take on another responsibility especially for a species I am unfamiliar with. But it got me to thinking back to my own second half of college life when I acquired my first dog as an adult. I wasn’t going to be in a dorm, but there was initial very strong opposition from my parents claiming I couldn’t go to college and care for a dog at the same time.

Fortunately they raised me to be an independent thinker and I countered that no, in fact, having a dog would keep me focused on being a college student. I won, they recanted, and Teisha the wonder dog really did keep me sane in many large and small ways, and for her lifetime of nearly 14 years.

Apparently I had been bemoaning out loud because my daughter Callie handed me The New York Times’ Upfront Magazine, the newsmagazine for teens. And there in print was evidence of human evolution — colleges renovating dorms to accommodate the animal companions of students. Kudos to you, Stephens College in Columbia, MO and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL for understanding the companionability of a beloved pet (versus a service dog) can have such measurable benefits for the behavioral health of their people, even if they live in dormitories!

So while this little ferret has not been claimed and is now available for adoption consideration, perhaps there will come the day that more and more colleges will understand the value of bringing animals along — even in dormitories, often required living environments for incoming freshmen — and creating the environment that will maximize all.

Let’s make this little one’s next place a happy consequence!

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