Comfort Creatures: Pets Spark Joy for Students Off Campus

By, Adrianne Hutto & Jocelyn Visnov, Asst. Production Editors

With the stress of a new semester and the uncertainty of COVID-19, many students are finding ways to cope. One way they are doing so is adopting pets to live with them and their roommates off campus. This allows students a way to relieve stress through the companionship and comfort of their new furry friends.

The Quadrangle spoke with three students off campus who have either adopted or fostered pets this semester.

Chris Cranson is a senior finance major at Manhattan College. Recently, he rescued his puppy, Thunder, from a dog breeder on Staten Island.

“I always liked the idea of rescuing,” Cranson wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “Because, you know, as they say, he was the one who actually rescued me.”

Thunder, who goes by several nicknames including Thundie, Big T, Thunder buddy, and Notorious D.O.G, is an Australian Shepard and is already finding comfort in their Bronx apartment.

“You know what they say: dogs are man’s best friend,” Cranson wrote. “After getting home from a hard class or test, nothing brings me more joy than seeing my little buddy meet me at the door when I walk in.”

Cranson and his roommates pose for Christmas photos with Thunder in their apartment. CHRIS CRANSON/COURTESY

While there are always some difficulties that come with having your first pet, as Thunder is for Cranson, he is finding a balance between pet care and his school work.

“I think at first it was difficult being a first time dog owner,” Cranson wrote. “But we learned how to take care of each other together and it’s been smooth sailing since.”

Overall, the experience has been rewarding for both Thunder and his new owner, bringing joy into both their lives.

“I think it helps my stress levels a lot because he brings me nothing but happiness,” Cranson wrote. “It definitely affects my self-discipline as I realize that I have a little man relying on me to take care of him… I do miss out on some social things but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Another student, Gabi Panassol, a senior and history major at Manhattan College, has found similar comfort in her 7-month-old kitten, Olive. She and her roommates recognized that they would not have the time to properly care for a dog, so they decided that a cat would be a perfect fit. With the help of one of her former roommates, Panassol was able to adopt Olive.

With Olive growing into adulthood, Panassol and her roommates feel like parents and have dealt with some attitudes.

“It’s interesting because [Olive is] like a teenager now. So sometimes she throws some fits and we all have to learn how to deal with that,” said Panassol. “But she’s just so cute, she’s such a companion to have and she sleeps with us and gets all cozy in our blankets especially because it’s cold now. So it’s been so, so great. And sometimes when you’re feeling down and she’s just laying like in your lap and tries to cuddle it’s so good.”

It’s the little things about having a kitten that sparks joy for Panassol, as she always has a ball of energy running around the apartment.

Panassol’s 7 month old kitten, Olive captured in a picture perfect moment. GABI PANASSOL/COURTESY

“Literally anything like she is the cuddliest cat over you can just be sitting in our living room watching TV and she’ll get up next to you and try to be all nice and sleep for like four hours,” Panassol said. “And then at night, it’s cold, so she’ll just come up next to you and she’ll sleep on like my neck or my head…waking up to that is so nice.”

Victoria Steinhoff, a senior Business Analytics major, has always been an animal lover. After growing up with dogs, she began fostering them when a family friend connected her with an adoption agency in her home state of Delaware. Steinhoff enjoyed the fostering experience so much that she decided to bring the joy of fostering animals to her off-campus apartment here at MC.

Steinhoff has fostered three different pups through an agency called Waldos Rescue Pen. Each pup stays with her for about a month. As a foster parent, Steinhof f has several responsibilities beyond caring for her current four-legged friend. She’s in constant communication with the adoption agency, and screens applications from potential families looking to adopt, making sure the dogs go to a loving FURever home. So far, she has had nothing but positive experiences fostering dogs through Waldos Rescue.

Currently, she cares for a small black dog named Lola, who she’s had for about three weeks now.

“My roommates love animals too, and they were all on board with it,” She said.

Lola is pictured in a stylish beige sweater. VICTORIA STEINHOFF/COURTESY

With four people around, the foster dogs become very well socialized. Steinhoff explained that the schedule of her and her roommates actually aligns very well with having a foster dog.

“I feel like students’ schedules align best with dogs that need to be fostered because like you’re not really away from your apartment for more than like, a couple hours a day,” she said. “It keeps you on more of a routine which is like, sometimes a good thing because… you can’t sleep in super early. Because they have to get up and walk.” Steinhoff said.

In addition, having a dog around often serves as good stress relief in the lives of busy college students.

“[Dogs are] just a great addition to have like in our group, between all the dogs that we foster is just like, so fun to come home and have a dog to look forward to and like it’s kind of like an outlet like if you want to take your dog for a walk or like you want to take them in to play with them in the park or like, play with them in your apartment like it definitely is like a stress reliever and I like it,” Steinhoff said.

If your off campus housing accommodates pets, consider becoming a foster PAW-rent or adopting.Visit for more information.