Boston University Terriers live by cardinal rules during the COVID-19 pandemic: Fill out the daily symptom survey on time, never assume there will be a short line outside of the Warren Towers Starbucks and enthusiastically greet every dog you see on the street.
With travel restrictions and no Spring Recess, BU students are also feeling the cost of living without their four-legged friends at home for extended periods of time. Although pets can be spotted on campus, you don’t have to leave your room to see BU-affiliated animals.
Last summer, Afrah Mohammad, a third-year student in the BU School of Medicine, created the Instagram account @pets.of.busm dedicated to fellow BU students’ animals to help her peers connect over a common love for furry friends.
“A couple of my classmates, they have pets and I like getting updates on them, and I realized other people do as well,” she said. “It’s great because then like everyone else could see them too.”
As someone who does not have pets of her own, Mohammad said posting animals has helped her connect with others.
“Sometimes, the first thing that I know about somebody is like, I see on social media that they have a pet,” she said. “That becomes a good talking point and when I meet them it kind of breaks the ice.”
Although the majority of pet pictures that are submitted to the Instagram account consist of dogs or cats, rabbits and a rooster have been featured. Mohammad said the Instagram account could be used as a means for other animal lovers to share their appreciation.
“It’s just fun to see everyone’s pets,” she said. “I feel like people will feel a little more connected to each other.”
Jason Ham, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he lives on campus and seeing pets around never fails to brighten his mood.
“The presence of pets on campus does improve my mood by a good margin,” Ham wrote in a follow-up email. “They’re always very cute and it’s nice to see them interact with their owners or just strangers passing by.”
He said he personally misses spending time with his dog, a terrier mix appropriately named “Happy.”
“It is only temporary, but you know, you kind of miss the little things,” Ham said. “You miss walking him, just petting him, it’s physical contact with your pet you love.”
Anyone who has a pet knows that they become a big part of your life — they are like family, he said. When he talks to his parents on FaceTime, Ham said he often asks if Happy can be on the call too.
“One of the things about having a pet,” he said, “is that you unconditionally love them.”
Ashley Shaw, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business living in Boston, said she adopted a French Bulldog puppy, Quinn, during winter break after struggling during the isolating Fall semester.
Shaw said she adopted the now five-month-old pup because of the massive toll online learning took on her mental health last semester.
“The primary reason I got her, it was because I wasn’t doing well with having online classes,” she said. “I’m someone who’s very social … and being stuck in my small apartment doing classes, not getting to see people very often, was really, really hard for me.”
Shaw said she takes Quinn on walks to the dog park and to the Barn, where she is on BU’s Equestrian Team. As Quinn naps, Shaw will get work done, and at night they “snuggle on the couch and watch Netflix together.”
The best part is, Quinn makes learning during the COVID-19 pandemic more manageable for Shaw’s mental health, she said. When asked how she has adapted to living with her new puppy, Shaw said Quinn “makes a world of difference.”
“I’m never alone anymore,” she said.