College means many things. It means independence, adulthood, and for some, it means leaving behind a beloved pet.
Shelby Township junior Ariel Pscheidl was forced to part with her pet upon her arrival to college.
“I missed having pets from when I was home,” she said. “As a freshman in the residence halls, you are only allowed fish, so once I moved out and into an apartment I instantly looked and researched for a pet.”
Just like the residence halls, though, there are restrictions in apartments that residents must follow.
According to Pscheidl, her apartment does not allow animals that do not live in a cage, meaning dogs or cats are out of question.
So, after weeks of researching, she became the proud owner of a hedgehog.
“For my apartment, the animals must live in a cage,” Pscheidl said. “I decided on hedgehogs because they are typically clean and are fairly easy to care for. They stay in my room and are nocturnal, so they sleep throughout the day. They eat high quality cat food and once a week as a treat they get meal worms.”
Pscheidl named her hedgehog Hegina George, after the “Mean Girls” movie character Regina George.
One hedgehog was not enough. She recently adopted another: Hedgar Alan Poe.
“I have always wanted to name a pet Hegina George, so that was a given for her,” she said. “We were debating between Hedgy Potter, because he was dropped off on the doorstep of the humane society, but then we chose Hedgar Alan Poe because he is dark, bitter and grumpy.”
Livonia senior Andrea Shaw has also had to live without an animal companion.
Shaw never lived without an animal before her freshman year at college and soon realized that having a pet was a necessity for her.
“Life would be depressing without my ferrets,” she said. ”I have never lived without an animal before, and living without one my freshman year drove me insane. I have a dog at home and I wasn’t used to not having a companion with me. I had to get one my sophomore year. In a way, my ferrets are like therapy animals.”
Shaw owns two ferrets, Panda and Yoda, because they are playful and fun.
“Funny stuff happens on the daily,” Shaw said. “Panda likes to drink out of the toilet. I put an end to that. Yoda has a shoe fetish. He always takes shoes and puts them in a pile. I now know of all their hiding spots.”
Rather than caring for two mammals, Hamilton senior Jaime Coon is the owner of amphibians, two newts named Newt Gingrich and Callista.
“I decided to get my newt after I discovered it was allowable to have aquatic pets on campus,” she said. “Now that I’m living off campus, I’ve also collected aquatic frogs and some shrimp, too. Newts are fairly easy to take care of with my busy schedule and are quite interactive little creatures.”
Coon, like many students, has had to endure a year without pets and the companionship they bring.
“I lived on a farm with horses, cats, cows and chickens,” she said. ”I grew up with just about every pet, and I wish I could have them all here, but my newts are what I can have right now and they make me happy. It gives me a chance to take a moment and enjoy the small things; that’s what pets are for.”