The life of a student can be a lonely one. Sometimes your latest Keg hookup won’t call you back, or you have to barricade yourself in your room to finish a paper (once you check your news feed one more time). In those dark hours, it’s nice to know that someone loves you unconditionally – even if that someone is a lizard. Pet ownership, like all relationships, isn’t always easy, but Northwestern’s animal lovers can’t imagine life without their critter companions.
Thembi the Hedgehog
Thembi, who joined the Northwestern community in July 2010, was profiled on the New York Times website in November, and has 147 fans on Facebook. Thembi’s mom is SESP senior Jennifer Goldberg, who purchased the African Pygmy Hedgehog for her 21st birthday. Her therapist suggested him as an emotional support animal to sooth sadness and anxiety when she returning from studying abroad in South Africa. Thembi is named after the son of Goldberg’s hero, former South African president Nelson Mandela. “Thembi is one of my best friends and I think we make a dynamic duo,” Goldberg says.
Franklyn the Boa Constrictor
Weinberg junior Tyris Jones calls his two bearded dragons, TJ (short for Teddy Jam) and F2, his friends as well. This is Jones’s second attempt to have a pet on campus. The bearded dragons are a less dangerous alternative to the Colombian red-tail boa constrictor he owned for three months during his sophomore year. The football player’s roommates were convinced the snake would kill them all and were not comforted when ‘Franklyn with a y’ was thought to be lost and was eventually found lodged in Jones’ furnace. No one knows how he escaped his box. Recalling a pet dog and bird that ran and flew away, Jones calls the bearded dragons his first real pets.
Jacque the Hamster
Communication sophomore Kenzie Barth’s many attempts at pet ownership have included ducks, chicks, turtles, rabbits, frogs, dogs, hamsters and a snake. Most recently, she purchased Jacque, a hamster, at Thee Fish Bowl pet store in Evanston this past fall. But unfortunately, this love story doesn’t have a happy ending. Barth realized she couldn’t keep the hamster at school after he started biting people and kept her awake running on his wheel. She has yet to pick-up Jacque after returning him to the pet store before winter break. “It’s hard to have a pet at school. It costs quite a bit of money for a pet that doesn’t love you back,” Barth says.
Tron the Bearded Dragon
Recent graduate Stephen Simmons chose a bearded dragon and two iguanas as less expensive alternatives to a dog. His ongoing costs are limited as the pets eat vegetables like lettuce. One day, during fall quarter, he returned home to find his bearded dragon, Tron, deceased. “When I tried to give him food, I realized he had died. I had someone else get rid of him,” he says. He says he misses the way the bearded dragon would run to the side of the cage when he walked in the room.