Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Reflections… and gratuitous cute Walter photos

Many people have asked me whether it’s feasible to have a dog (or any other kind of pet) while in graduate or medical school, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Hearing others’ thoughts on it this weekend (at the GLMA conference) made me think about it again. Reflecting on our first nine months with Walter, I think the answer is clear: it depends.

My schedule has changed substantially over the course of my program. I have significant flexibility in how long I am out of the house, though I know that this will change when I go back to medical school and am on the wards. Alicia’s schedule has been relatively constant through all of this, with a few exceptional days, though this may also change when I go back to medical school and lose any semblance of control over my schedule.

Conclusion #1: Sole responsibility for anything other than a fish isn’t something I would have undertaken or plan to undertake at any point in my life.

Caveat #1: If you can pay someone to help out, conclusion #1 is null and void. We discussed the possibility of hiring a dog walker to take Walter out in the middle of the day to give him a chance to relieve himself and play outside. This ended up not being necessary, but may come back into consideration in a few years.

In spite of the altered schedule, I have been impressed with the anti-stress benefits of having Walter around. I think I laugh even more now that he is constantly hiding in the blankets or trying to lick my face. I definitely walk more since I’m obligated to take him outside once or twice each day for half and hour or so. I’ve been able to listen to more podcasts/books on tape, and find that the time away from work makes me more productive.

Conclusion #2: Having a pet forces you to slow down, and for someone like me, this is a good thing.

Caveat #2: Getting a pet during finals was probably the worst possible time, as I was crazy and there was nothing stress relieving about having to take the dog out when I had an exam due. I’ve figured out his schedule now, but I’d err on the side of a calm time if I had the opportunity to do it again.

Overall, I love having Walter around. There’s nothing like having the dog snuggled on the couch to make a nap even more inviting, and I’m constantly entertained by his antics. Clearly, however, it’s a balance. If I were responsible for all of his care, I’d probably go nuts, and if we had a dog that required 10 hours of walking and intensive playing every day, we’d all be unhappy. But I’m not, and we don’t.

Conclusion #3: It depends.

1 comment:

  1. Hi- Thanks for the pictures of Walt. He is such a sweetie! And you forgot how hard it was when he was first yours, because he cried when you left. I think when you're a busy person, that's a heart breaker and one you have to be ready for.