May 31, 2020

Students open up about support animals

Roughly a year ago, two students began to experience college with a furry friend by their side, while another student is beginning her experience this semester. These three individual students have all had different experiences here at Capital and have come forward to talk about it. Although all three students have the same area of accommodation, they have each had different experiences here at Capital University.

When all three were asked about their experience, especially with starting the new school year, each said that they did not feel judged. But each also extended their answers with different perspectives.

Colleen Ruzich is a fifth-year student who has had her mix lab-retriever service dog, Akira, for a year: nine months part-time and four months full-time. Akira has been trained by professionals to prevent an anxiety attack from happening to Ruzich. Akira is so advanced that she has been trained to predict when Ruzich will have an anxiety attack and can even prevent her from driving in these situations.

Ruzich stated that although she does not feel judged here at Capital, she does feel more noticed.

“Capital has been accepting. People always want to meet her,” Ruzich said. “However, it is annoying hearing passive remarks about wanting to pet. Just ask me straight up. But also know there are boundaries. I think some forget that she is here working. There have been times where people will call out her name, and that is distracting. Akira is here to accommodate me.”

Colleen Ruzich & Service dog Akira

For about a year, Allison Hazel, a third-year student majoring in psychology, has had an emotional support guinea pig. This year, she now has two, named Zeke and Tai.

Hazel stated that she finds Capital University’s accommodation program helpful and willing to help out anyone in need, for the most part. Hazel has found CapFam’s response to her guinea pigs positive, with most seeing them and calling them “cute,” and friends asking, “When can I come see them?”

Besides the fact that Hazel grew up with guinea pigs, she finds them very suiting for a busy college lifestyle.

“What is great about having guinea pigs is that they do well alone,” Hazel said. “I feed them twice a day and spend one to two times a day playing with them. This is a big reason why I didn’t get a cat or a dog; they are a lot more of a responsibility.”

Allison Hazel & her emotional support guinea pigs Tai & Zeke

Petyn Scanlan, second-year majoring in psychology, is starting her first year with an emotional support dog named Cooper.

Scanlan, who has had her two-year-old beagle mix for about three-months, lives on campus and found it somewhat difficult on move-in day.

“I had moved in a week prior, so that was not stressful; it was a pretty easy transition with Cooper,” Scanlan said. “However, when my two other roommates moved in, it became somewhat stressful and hard with Cooper, and having furniture all around as well.”

Petyn Scanlan & her emotional support dog Cooper.

Like all students who have pet accommodations, Scanlan has found comfort with her companion.

“At night, I sometimes get lonely,” Scanlan said. “Cooper has helped me deal with that by always being present and loving. He always has to have one paw on you.”

Despite Scanlan being new to this accommodation, she has realized in her first week all of the heavy responsibility; but finds great help within her friends and roommates.

“I have gotten the vibe that people envy the fact that I have a dog. What they don’t realize is that with having an animal comes a lot of responsibilities, the financial side of having a pet,” Scanlan said. “It is hard, especially when you’re in school because you aren’t working as much but still need to pay for food, etc. I think that some do not realize that having Cooper is a necessity, not a want.”


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