During the different chapters in my life, animals were always a part of the story. I have sweet memories of running through the sprinkler with Lady, our family’s first golden retriever; the excitement of taking my calico kitten on our family road trip to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone; the comfort of falling asleep with our cats Oliver and Otis warming my feet; and most recently, the fun my husband and I had adopting our adorable (and slightly neurotic) turtles – Biggie and Smalls.
After finishing my undergraduate degree in psychology, I spent two years working at jobs unrelated to the field while I figured out my next steps. Eventually, I decided to pursue graduate school. For me, this meant moving back to my small hometown in Wisconsin to save money, research graduate schools, study for the GRE and then anxiously wait to hear where I would be accepted.
When I returned home, most of my friends had moved on and were gainfully employed, and I felt behind in life. As my family headed off to school and work each day, I also felt really lonely. A few weeks before I moved home, my family adopted a sweet husky and lab mix named Koby. Since Koby and I had the house to ourselves most days, we became fast friends. She loved sitting on my feet as I worked on the computer, snuggling up on my lap while I studied for the GRE, taking walks together in the crisp fall air and cruising through the woods with me on our four wheeler. She was such a joyful companion and an unexpected comfort during that confusing and uncertain season in my life.
Research has shown that pets help our overall health and wellbeing.
“[Pets] can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.”
Pets also aid in increasing our physical well being (physical fitness, improved immunity, allergy prevention, etc.), our emotional and mental wellbeing (lowering stress and anxiety, increasing happiness, decreasing depression, improving discipline, etc.), and even improving our socialization with others, according to Forbes Magazine. The research is clear, our pets really do enhance our lives!
So during this strange and unprecedented time, when you might find yourself out of sorts or struggling, take the time to invest in your relationship with your own pet. Get outside and walk around your neighborhood with your pup, cuddle up with your cat while you study or just relax and take some deep breaths while you watch your fish swim gently back and forth. And for those of you who don’t have a furry study buddy, here are some of the adorable animals in the Biola community.
Campus Pastor Todd Pickett’s Henry is a charming five month old cavapoo. He loves to eat gullet sticks, fetch Bun Bun and go for walks around Balboa Island. Henry has several tricks up his sleeve — sitting, laying down and staying. He also has a knack for chewing on anything and everything he can get his paws on. He provides unconditional affection and he never ever talks back, making Pickett’s life all the better.
Learning Center Director Jen Fanning’s Huxley, or “Hux,” is a super soft and incredibly sweet sixteen month old Great Dane. He was born in Croatia before he made his voyage to California. He is named after Aldous Huxley, an author and philosopher. As a certified therapy dog, Huxley loves to visit hospitals and just make patients smile. Fanning and Huxley love to run together in the mornings, particularly if they can find their way to a beach. Huxley loves giving snuggles and hugs, is obsessed with socks and loves making his family laugh. He is also fond of swiss cheese and can smell it from a mile away. Like his mama, Hux has a loving and kind heart for everyone. He always gives people and dogs the benefit of the doubt and does everything he can to make friends.
Director of Athletics Bethany Miller’s Scottish Fold kitty Sophie-Sox turns two in May 2020. Sophie is an avid spider hunter, provides lots of entertainment for the Miller kids and is their dog's bestie – or his arch nemesis, depending on the day. Sophie enhances her family’s life by providing lots of laughter, creating chores for the kiddos and waking the family up at 5 a.m. with her loud meows as she paces up and down the hallway. Though Sophie is an introverted kitty who needs her alone time, the Millers wouldn’t be the same without her.
Boomer is a playful five month old English Cream Golden Retriever and a member of Associate Athletic Director Eddie Shepard’s family. Boomer’s parents are actually Women’s Volleyball Coach Aaron Seltzer’s dogs, so this puppy still gets time with his mom and dad regularly. Boomer prefers a diet of an organic artisan dehydrated blend of grains and chicken. He is very aware and attentive to all of his people’s feelings, he’s a snuggler and he finds ways to show his family just how much he loves them. He can also play a mean game of fetch and is fond of chewing on absolutely everything.
Daisy is a four and a half year old cutie who is some kind of white scruffy terrier mix. She came to Executive Assistant Emily Anderson’s family as a lost pup. Daisy is quite the ego booster, and Anderson loves having a buddy that thinks she is the greatest and most fun person on the planet. Daisy is also a runner – in another life she was probably a track star. She is very sociable and enjoys strolling around her neighborhood, visiting all her animal friends. She loves family time, barking at everything that moves, frogs and finding dirty places to relax. Daisy will follow her people to the ends of the earth – she's like a really cute shadow.
Mourning doves started nesting in this hanging basket on Student Wellness Dean Lisa Igram’s patio right outside her front door about five years ago, and each year, six or seven sets of baby birds are born. Igram walks by as quietly as she can to not disturb them and peeks at the nest to check and see how they are doing. She can also see them from her kitchen table while eating or working – while they rebuild the nest, or while the male and female switch to take turns on the eggs or bring each other food. When the baby birds are old enough to fly away, she waits expectantly as the nest sits empty for a few days until a mourning dove returns and lays her eggs. During this season, the peace and calm of these mourning doves caring for their babies reminds Lisa that even though we humans are kind of chaotic right now, God continues to care for each of us the way he cares for these mourning doves, and with the same tenderness these mourning doves care for their young. Also, she has resolved to never get a cat.
Campus Safety Chief John Ojeisekhoba’s dog Peach is a darling one year old miniature poodle mix that the Ojeisekhobas adopted from an L.A. animal shelter. She is named after royalty, Princess Peach from the Super Mario Brothers games. She loves eating salmon, hiding treasures in her bed (mainly stolen scrunchies and stinky socks), going on walks through the neighborhood or cruising around in her car. Except for when she is barking for no apparent reason late at night, Peach fills the Ojeisekhobas’ lives and hearts with so much love, fun and joy.
Spyro is a handsome bearded dragon that Vice President André Stephens’ family got as a newly hatched babe 13 years ago. This noble beast was named after the video game character, Spyro the Dragon. During his free time, he loves basking in the sun, and is happiest in his own backyard. He has a very refined palate and enjoys live crickets, fruits, kale and collard greens. Spyro is a great conversation starter, is kind to all and is a low-maintenance guy. While some can be a little intimidated by Spyro, he tries to calm their nerves with his signature trick, giving a little “wave.”