Se-paw-ration Anxiety: How to Deal with Being Away from Your Pets

I didn’t realize I was homesick or missing my pets until I got a text from my dad with a picture of Dexter, my fluffy gray cat, staring straight into the camera. My dad had ice cream and my cat’s only mission was to get in on the treat. I immediately wished he was with me so I could pet and hold him but spring break still seemed so far away.

When I left my home in New York for college in Boston about a little over a year ago, I left a lot of things behind. I left behind family members, some of my possessions, friends and, probably the worst of all, my pets.

Whenever I go back home for break, I always find myself looking forward to seeing my two cats or my aunt’s dogs the most. I think it might be because I can always communicate with my friends or family while I’m away, but obviously the opportunity for communication with pets is limited.

For all those missing their pets, whether it’s just while you’re away at work for the day or away at college, here are some tips to help manage the pain of separation.

Videos

Luckily, there are no shortage of cute videos online for you to watch. If you’re missing your furry friends, there are probably some cute videos that you can watch that will put a smile on your face. This is great for people who can’t have pets either, because everyone can enjoy a video of a cute animal. Here are some of my favorite animal videos:

Visiting Animals

Sometimes if I’m really missing animals, all it takes is seeing someone walking a dog on the street and I get so much happier. If you’re away from animals for a long period of time, or can’t have your own pet, you can always visit animal shelters or find a friend who has an animal you can visit every once in a while. Some stores like PetSmart have adoptable animals that they keep in the store, so you can always visit the animals there as long as you think the urge to adopt one won’t be too hard for you. Lastly, sometimes sitting on a bench in a public place where people are bound to be walking their dogs is enough. More often than not, the dog will walk past you and approach you, and sometimes, the owners will let you pet the dog for a while. For those who prefer cats, cat cafes are gaining popularity, so you might be lucky to have one near you where you can visit the furry felines.

Get a Job Involving Animals

If brief visits with pets aren’t enough to solve your separation problems, getting a job involving pets might be beneficial. You can volunteer to work at an animal shelter, or get a job as a dog groomer. Especially if you live in a city, there might be a high demand for dog walkers, so you can get exercise for both yourself and the dogs, while spending time with the furry companions. Some stores or businesses have pet hotels and you can volunteer to work at one of those and help attend to the animals. PetSmart also has Doggie Day Care, and you could apply to work there so that playing with dogs becomes your paying job!

Electronics

With technology these days, it’s a lot easier to find alternatives when you miss having an animal around. There are online games and apps, like the ever-popular Neko Atsume app that lets you play with cats and collect them, and if you still have a Nintendo DS laying around, there’s always Nintendogs. There are also Nemuriale Sleep Aids which are stuffed animals that help with anxiety and sleep issues by emitting a small heartbeat. So not only can it help you when you miss cuddling with your pet, but it’s also helpful for stress.

Stay in Touch

If you have a pet at home, try to stay connected with your pet like you would with the rest of your family. Whenever I FaceTime my family I often bug them to bring my cats into the room so I can see them. Most of the text conversations between my dad and me are just pictures of my cats. Whenever I miss them, I can always count on my dad to send a picture of the cats snuggling on the couch or doing something silly in a video.

Here are some photos of pets, courtesy of Emerson students:

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Whenever I get home for a break and my aunt’s dogs, Ollie and Sandy, excitedly run up to me, or my cat, Isabella, purrs as I pet her, it reminds me how great pets are. While it may be hard to be away from your pets, just remember that it makes the reunion that much sweeter. You probably won’t be away from your pet forever, and when you see each other, it will almost be like you never left.

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