Every college student has their own way of dealing with stress and anxiety. In these unusual times when we can’t always hang out with friends and socialize, we have to look towards other means of companionship.

As a ‘pet parent’ myself, I understand the loyalty and soothing effect that pets can have on people. I don’t like to use the term ‘pet owner,’ because to me that implies that they are property, and that is certainly not the case. I have two dogs and two cats that complete our family at home with my wife and daughter.

Other students at APSU have the same perspective about their ‘fur babies’ and understand the importance of their pets helping them through these stressful times at college.

Jennifer Lindahl is a Freshman who is majoring in Sports Communication. Her chocolate lab named Stout always has a calming effect on her.

“She will take her cold, wet nose and make me pet her until I’m calm.” Stout said. “She helps me with school by sitting with me and making me pet her if my assignment stresses me out.”

Dogs seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to people with anxiety. That’s why so many of them are used for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). My dogs Waylon and Lexi are always there for me when I tend to stress out, and they have that ability to know when something is bothering me.

It isn’t just dogs that students rely on for that positive reinforcement. Cats and other animals can be just as dependable to ensure the students succeed during difficult times.

Amber Vandermark who is a Sophomore majoring in English, has three lovable cats that assist her in their own unique ways. While she has one, Atticus, that sits on her lap as she does homework, there is another, Apollo, who likes to nuzzle with her, especially when Amber is feeling depressed. Yet, there is one more according to Vandermark.

“Rosie, my sweet girl, brings me toys and gives me kisses,” Vandermark said.

Another student, who has two cats and a dog, also relies on the lovable antics of her pets to help her out through the stressful times. Courtney Frazier is a Senior majoring in Mathematics.

“One of the cats always lays on me or sits on my lap when I start to stress out or get nervous,” Frazier said.

While most people have dogs and cats as part of their extended families, there are other types of pets that people love just as much as fur babies.
Hollie Lorigan is a Freshman who is still yet undecided on her major. She believes that she gets just as much affection from her Beta Fish and Leopard Gecko as anybody else would get from their pets.

“My Beta helps me feel loved because every time I walk by his tank, he swims to the top to greet me, and my gecko loves to cuddle,” Lorigan said.

She honestly believes, as do many people, that “animals are proven stress relievers.”

We all, as students, experience forms of stress and anxiety. It is a relief to know that there are companions to help us ensure that we don’t face these challenges alone.