Alternative pets for comfort in these dark times

Emily Filkin/Staff

There is a cruel irony in the fact that during some of the most stressful parts of our lives, residence hall buildings and many apartment complexes don’t allow the most effective stress relievers: dogs. There is no replacement for man’s best friend, but there are a few alternative options that still don’t come very close to replacing dogs. When you’re navigating the anxiety of finals season, don’t pay some organization on Sproul to pet a dog for five minutes. Instead, try some of these backup pets and you’ll always have a faithful companion waiting for you at home.


This is the typical residence hall pet and one of the few animals UC Berkeley allows in residence halls without special permission. They require very little work, but that also means you’ll receive minimal comfort in return. Walking, petting or cuddling with one is either unadvised or really difficult and their blank stares pale in comparison to a dog’s deep, soulful gaze. The rewards with goldfish are minuscule, but if all you need is something else that’s alive in your vicinity, goldfish will do just fine.


Bringing a pet snail to class won’t generate the same amount of excitement as a pupper, but the point is you can still take them to class. Only the people sitting around you will think you’re weird and even they will soon realize that snails make relatively good company. Snails are easy to find, hard to lose, cheap to look after and you can paint their shells. Additionally, there’s something about a snail’s slow, steady pace that makes you realize everything will be alright.


With the tragic end of Club Penguin comes the rise of another early-2000s online empire. It’s time to hop back on your Windows 98, revisit Neopia, create another neopet and start racking up those neopoints. The digital comfort that comes with playing with and feeding your neopet is in many ways better than the real thing. Only in Neopia can you play beach volleyball and brew potions with your favorite furry friend.

Your Roommate

Imagine your dog was your roommate. That sounds great. Now, imagine your roommate was your dog. That sounds just as good. If you have a roommate, then you already have a living, breathing dog replacement. You can bring them food to make them happy, pet and caress them and even take them on walks. So long as they help relieve your stress and never try discuss their own stressful lives, you can live an entire school year under the illusion that your roommate is, in fact, your pet, and they never even have to know about it.

Whether it’s a dog or a snail, it seems we all need coping mechanisms to get through the semester. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dog, all we ask is that you reserve judgement for the rest of us who have to get a little more creative with our pets.

Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].