by Diane Eshelman
Since this is my first blog post, I figured I would focus on something near and dear to my heart: my puppy! I grew up around dogs and therefore when I searched for my first position out of graduate school I did place more emphasis on institutions that were dog-friendly. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to land a position at a small institution that is extremely dog-friendly and by my third month I drove home to Pennsylvania to pick up my brand-new pup, Remy Bear (longhair miniature dachshund; see picture below)! At first my family and mentors were not very supportive of this decision. They were of the belief that having a dog while adjusting to my first professional position with demanding hours would not be a good combination. However, as we (Remy Bear and I) approach our second ‘gotcha-day’, I (as well as my family and mentors) could not be happier with the addition of a pup to my life. All of their fears and concerns turned out to not be true.
I am now a firmer believer that pet parenthood can help young student affairs professionals create and maintain a healthy work-life blend. Having Remy Bear in my life, forces me to leave work at the end of the day. During my busy times such as student leader training and orientation, I carefully carve out time for her or rely on my pup-friendly colleagues and students to help out.
However, being Remy Bear’s parent comes with an added bonus: in July 2014 we became a certified Therapy Dog team through Love on a Leash. Because of this added bonus, I have the opportunity to bring Remy Bear along to student meetings and my office on a somewhat regular basis. We have worked with the nursery school on our campus, but Remy Bear’s favorite work includes hanging out with her students. She gets excited when she can hang out with students either at a program, group meeting, or individually. Specifically, we organize various stress-reliever events throughout the academic year where Remy Bear and her doggie friends are available to students. Remy Bear is also listed as a resource for students who are working with our campus’ sexual assault and violence prevention coordinator. She has become a mini-campus celebrity and frequently is the main attraction at my residential houses’ programs and even served as the mascot (a pink elephant) for one of my residential houses during new student orientation.
Even though Remy Bear has reached campus celebrity status, at the end of the day I know that when things are falling apart on campus or with our students she will always be there to greet me with an excited tail wag, body wiggle, and playful bark.
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