Pets Provide Companionship for Off-Campus Housers


Serena Runyan

Senior Stefani Paladino always knew she wanted a dog and finally got her part German Shepherd mix, Abby, when she moved off-campus last September. For Paladino, there isn’t really a “hard” part to owning an animal in college.
“When I first got her, there was an adjustment period for both of us, but once we got into a routine, it was pretty easy,” she said.
And Paladino was certainly prepared for the responsibilities of owning a dog.
“I’m really a dog person, so I knew I wanted one, and I did a lot of research on it and looked around at different dogs,” said Paladino. “When I met her she licked my face and I just knew I had to get her.”
The same can be said for junior Evan Griffis, proud owner of a hedgehog named Constantine. However, Griffis didn’t necessarily consider himself a hedgehog person before he bought Constantine.
“It was a little impromptu,” said Griffis. “I was just wanting a pet, a companion. One day I was at home and I was on Craigslist and I stumbled upon this guy selling a hedgehog.”
Griffis was heading up to Walla Walla for the summer, so he quickly had to decide if a hedgehog was right for him.
“I was trying to gauge if this was a pet that could live in a fraternity. So I did a bunch of research, and I decided to get it.”
Griffis ended up going to the owner’s home, a houseboat in Portland, and purchasing his hedgehog from a drugged-up man named Constantine, who became the hedgehog’s namesake.
Of course caring for these two different animals requires different responsibilities from their owners. Paladino needs to be sure to give Abby exercise and attention.
“We go on walks, we go around campus a lot and [to] Bennington Lake. I take her in my car when I go around town,” said Paladino.
Luckily, Paladino’s housemates are excited about having a dog in their home.
“They love her,” said Paladino. “And if I’m having a busy day or something, they’ll let her out.”
Constantine, however, has a bit of a different attitude when it comes to lots of people. Because he is a nocturnal animal, he’s relatively shy around other people.
“That’s what hedgehogs are. They’re pretty solitary and individualistic. There’s a lot of negative preconceptions about hedgehogs because they’re just scared,” said Griffis.
As a result, Griffis gets some good-natured jokes from other Phi Delta Theta students about his choice of pet.
“The guys who live in the house with me think he’s the dumbest pet, like ‘you’re holding a cactus,'” he said.
And there are some drawbacks to having such a reserved pet.
“I had a long time of earning trust. For a long time I’d just hold a little quill ball for like an hour and nothing would happen, and that was a little disappointing,” said Griffis.
What’s more is that Griffis and Constantine only get to interact for a couple hours every night, since he’s asleep the rest of the day.
“Usually I’ll wake him up around 11 [p.m.], play with him for an hour or two … It’s a little sad that I really only interact with him at night,” said Griffis.
Despite these drawbacks, Constantine’s solitary nature makes him a great companion.
“My hedgehog and I are such a good match,” said Griffis. “We don’t need a ton of social interaction. I’ll just read with him, and he’ll just wander up and down my leg.”
This sense of companionship is exactly what Paladino loves most about her dog.
“The best part is when I’ve had a rough day, and I can come home and cuddle with her,” she said.