My Experience Adopting a Dog in St. Maarten
Written by Shalom Adams, 5th-semester student
When I first moved to St. Maarten to begin medical school, it was a big adjustment for me. It was a new place, with a new culture, and a different environment compared to where I’m from in the States. And it took time for me to really feel at home on the island. But one of the ways I was able to adjust and not feel too homesick was fostering a dog, which led to adopting him as a pet.
There are many different organizations on the island that allows students to foster dogs and cats that are in need of a home, such as SXM Paws and Animal Defenders. The organizations provide everything you’ll need to take care of the animal that you take into your home, including food, toys, a leash, bowls, all the healthcare needed, etc. The staff is always there if you have any questions or need advice about what to do. And what’s great about fostering is that you choose the amount of time you would like to foster (it could be a week to a few months or more).
After I decided I wanted a dog, I asked if I could foster first since I didn’t know what it would be like having a dog as a full-time medical student. The dog I fostered, Goose, was a small terrier mix who sadly had been through five homes so far.
When I first got him, he was very anxious and wouldn’t wag his tail. He was also scared of being left alone and would lick the door for hours when he was by himself. It took time and patience, but eventually, he adjusted to his new home. What I learned was that these little things were his way of expressing himself and his feelings. It’s who he is, and I fell in love with it.
While those were some of the tougher aspects, I noticed the benefits very quickly too. You always come home to a smiling face who’s happy to see you. A pet becomes a new part of you, a part of your life that is away from the daily routine of classes.
I found having a dog has really helped me relax, and it’s been a good outlet for me when I need a break from studying. Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed from school, I stop what I’m doing and go play with Goose or take him for a walk. This time really helps me refresh and feel more prepared for when I go back to studying. We even go to the beach every Saturday together without fail.
I will say there are always times when it is hard to have a dog as a student, as it can be a big commitment on top of your priorities at school. That’s why I always say if you’re really interested in adopting a pet, try fostering first. This way, you can really see for yourself if you can handle having a pet and being a student. In my experience, it was a challenge in the beginning, but it ended up being worth it, since I found my new best friend.