Pets are companions, not burdens for some

Despite being full-time college students, some find time to dedicate to pets.

Senior Amanda Havens owns Toby. ( STEVEN REITZ // TTN )
(Above) Senior Amanda Havens owns Toby. (Below) Koopa Troopa is 3L law student Matthew Dempsky’s pet. ( STEVEN REITZ // TTN )
Senior Amanda Havens owns Toby. ( STEVEN REITZ // TTN )
Koopa Troopa is 3L law student Matthew Dempsky’s pet. ( STEVEN REITZ // TTN ) (Above) Senior Amanda Havens owns Toby. (Below) Koopa Troopa is 3L law student Matthew Dempsky’s pet. ( STEVEN REITZ // TTN )

Living with others sometimes means picking up the slack of roommates, generally by cleaning up after them. While some students may see this as an extra burden they don’t need, there are a few who take on the responsibility willingly through a different kind of roommate — a pet. And though it may seem daunting to carry on that responsibility, there are some roomies who manage to make it work.

Amanda Havens is a fifth-year architecture major who owns a pitbull-type dog named Toby, who Havens said is almost 4 years old and gets along with all of her roommates, except one.

“[My roommate is] kind of standoff-ish toward [Toby], and he senses it,” Havens said. “[Toby] specifically chews on her things and he’s been peeing on her stuff and just her stuff, no one else’s. Before she moved in he never had accidents in the house. Even when I got him, he was trained.”

The pup also seems to love his own personal space, Havens said.

“In three of the bedrooms, he develops a man cave and finds a very tiny spot and just lays there until one of us gets home,” Havens said. “He had a man cave in the living room at one point. He finds these really strange, small hiding places.”

Havens said that while she’s OK with it, most of the extra responsibility falls on her since she is the owner.

“He gets a little expensive when it comes to food because he has food allergies, so he has to have a specific type of food,” Havens said. “And as for walking him, [my roommate] helps me out a lot and we have a backyard and grass. We specifically got that house for the dog.”

Havens said she wouldn’t change having a dog, because at the end of a long, stressful day, she comes home and Toby is excited to see her, laying down to bond and always wanting to cuddle.

“No matter what happens, he’s at home waiting for me,” Havens said.

Matthew Dempsky, a 3L law student, owns a Russian tortoise named Koopa Troopa. The turtle may not be as cuddly as a dog, but she seems to receive just as much love as Toby.

“As far as pets go, we really lucked out. We really like her a lot,” Dempsky said. “She’s fairly well-behaved and likes to crawl all over us if we let her.”

Koopa Troopa also likes to eat.

“[We give her] mostly vegetables and leafy greens,” Dempsky said. “She also eats fruit. She recently just started eating green apples.”

Both Dempsky and his roommate agreed to get a pet together.

“We cleared it ahead of time, formulated a plan on how we were going to keep it and feed it,” Dempsky said. “We originally planned to get a water turtle, but we found out that it’s expensive to keep them in a habitat. We decided to get a tortoise instead. They’re easier to take care of, a little bit lower maintenance, but a little bit more expensive to buy.”

Some pets are bought at pet stores and some are adopted from shelters, but Max Cohen, a junior public relations major, got his cat Phillip from the streets.

“He was there when we came home one night,” Cohen said. “He apparently followed my one roommate home and walked with her for blocks. He was being friendly rubbing against her leg and he came in the house. We were like, ‘All right, you’ve earned your keep, you can stay.’”

Cohen and his roommates discovered that Phillip was mute, and had an interesting experience bathing him.

“We had him in the sink and he was meowing up a storm but nothing was coming out so it was just like a silent cat meowing,” Cohen said. “We felt so bad but it made our lives a lot easier. Other than that, he’s really friendly and playful. He’s definitely the friendliest cat I’ve had.”

Cohen lives with five other people, so Phillip is easy to take care of.

“If his food is low, then someone will change it. We don’t really have a system yet,” Cohen said.

“In the neighborhood, there’s so many strays everywhere and most of them are friendly. I think you should always adopt over buying because it means so much to take in the cats,” Cohen said.

Rebecca Zoll can be reached at

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