This past year I made a big decision to go back to school to pursue a degree in nursing. As I weighed my decision, there were a number of important considerations that I kept top of mind. Beyond big factors like my fiancé and finances, I also debated how the decision would impact our Dalmatian, Ernie.
Now that I’ve been in my program for a year and am headed down the home stretch with graduation set for August (not that I’m counting down or anything!), I’ve got a pretty good handle on life as a full-time student and dog dad. One of the biggest factors I’ve had to consider is scheduling. Between classes and clinicals, working part-time, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I’ve been forced to be even more diligent about ensuring Ernie’s needs are covered. This of course involves careful coordination with my fiancé, Jesse, our friends who we’re fortunate to have help out regularly, as well as our neighborhood dog walkers.
Going back to school definitely requires you to rely on the support system around you. Not only has it been immensely helpful to have cheerleaders encouraging me every step of the way in my program, but I’m incredibly grateful for my fiancé and friends stepping up to help out with Ernie whenever necessary, especially when I’m in a pinch. I’ll never forget the time our dog walker was locked out of our building on a day when I was on campus all day and a friend at work dropped everything to stop by and walk Ernie. There have been countless gestures like this over the last year, and they’ve all meant the world to me. I know Ernie and his bladder appreciate them, too!
Another big concern for anyone going back to school faces is their budget. Tuition and fees aren’t cheap and neither is raising a pup. Despite having saved a chunk of change to cover Ernie’s costs while I was in school, I haven’t had the luxury of sending him to daycare and indulging in some other amenities that I know he’d enjoy. However, one thing I’ve made sure to continue paying for is pet insurance. Having insurance has been a total lifesaver, especially after Ernie had to have simultaneous leg and bladder surgery earlier this year. If you don’t have insurance on your pet, I’d highly recommend looking into it. #RealTalk
Okay, so I know we’ve had some real talk here about careful coordination and scheduling, identifying and heavily relying on your support system, and the importance of budgeting, but I couldn’t imagine not having Ernie in my life during this roller coaster of a school year. He’s a constant means of love, support, and snuggles amidst the grind of studying, and one of the things I look forward to most after a long day away. Pet therapy is REAL, y’all.
If you’re about to return to school or are contemplating whether to take the plunge, I hope this advice provides some helpful insight into what is often a very difficult decision. If you’ve still got questions or need some extra reassurance, give us a holler @zachburrus or @erniespotted or comment below. We’re here for you!