Meet Stella, the new puppy on campus

Stella di Mare--My little starfish

By Samantha Pearsall

She eats a lot. She poops a lot. She drinks a lot. She pees a lot. She cries a lot. She bites a lot. Then the process repeats itself over, and over, and over again all day and night. But she’s just so darn adorable that I forget all these things that should drive me absolutely crazy. No, not a newborn baby. I’m talking about Stella, my brand new black lab puppy that moved in with me at college.

stella3Stella and Sam at the beach.

Since my freshman year my mother has hyped me up for my unconventional graduation present that I’d be getting. Not money, or a big exotic trip. For four years I’ve been trying to wait so patiently for Stella. I have been patient, real patient, but I’m not sure I could have made it until May. I’ve had her name for months now: Stella di Mare, it means starfish in Italian. Luckily, my graduation present came two and a half months early last week when my boyfriend, Mike, surprised me with her at school.

'Twas worth the wait--perfection

She was perfect. Just as I had been picturing her for the past four years. Tiny dark eyes on a teeny black face with a miniature snout. She’s totally black from her gums to her fingernails, except for a few pure white hairs under each petite paw. Oh, and her pink pot belly.

So the fun began that afternoon, and so did all the hard work of being a single mom who’s living on campus and going to school full-time and working part-time. I really don’t know how people do it! Not to mention, half the battle of raising Stella on campus is concealing her stark black body in the fresh white snow when she’s got to go to the bathroom all the time! No pets allowed in dorms. Rules are rules, yet, my four roommates and I have chosen to take the risk. We basically just disregarded the consequences, in fact, we never really even thought about what they might be.

Stella & friends under wraps

I live in an “on campus” house that just happens to be located slightly off campus. It is not exactly a dorm per se, but it’s owned by the school and therefore eligible for random health and safety checks. Since we have had a cat for a few weeks now (also illegally), we’ve been prepping ourselves for how to handle one of these inspections. Kelly runs and grabs her food and water dishes (which are actually Tupperware); Liz sneaks her big bright yellow bag of Purina Kitten Chow down into the basement; Marie dashes to the door to distract the surprise inspectors; Amy grabs the kitty and stealthily carries her out the side door so she can run to the backyard; and I, well, before Stella’s arrival I was supposed to gather all the kitty’s toys that have been scattered around and kick them under the couch. Our jobs have since changed; in fact, our responsibilities have grown more complicated as we now have two small pets to conceal on campus. 

So early Friday morning there was a sharp knocking on the front door. Not the sound of anyone we know, and certainly not at 9 am on a Friday. I knew what this was about. I fearfully peered out the front window to see clipboard-wielding duo: Director of Student Life and my Resident Director. Amy and I were both home, and Mike too. I had not signed him into campus or registered his truck like all guests are required to do when they visit overnight. So not only was there a cat and dog illegally residing with us on campus, so was a boy. Needless to say, my roommates and I had not prepared well enough.

Clipboards at the door


Stella, a contrast in the snow.

After I saw who was on our front step, I gasped, picked up my pup and darted for my bedroom, leaving my boyfriend alone to deal with the inspectors. He peeked out the window and saw both people were very well dressed, he assumed it was Jehovah’s Witness (why? I can’t tell you.) He let them in! The house was an absolute disaster since weekend cleaning had obviously not yet happened, there were two kennels in the living room, 5 dishes of food and water, and pet toys galore scattered about the house. I huddled in my bed with Stella under the covers, allowing her to viciously gnaw (as vicious as a 7 week old puppy can) on my fingers to keep her from making a peep. Just as Mike opened the door, it occurred to him who these people actually were… and it was just in time for the cat to come running down the stairs and right between the two inspectors into the front yard. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

Amy told a little white lie to keep us from getting in trouble. Her cat just had surgery (a month ago) and her mom could not take care of her (even though she had since last August) so she was only here for the weekend (meaning the rest of the semester). They searched the entire house for the usual candles and weapons, except for my room because my door was locked. Amy explained I was sleeping and had been sick… Anther little white lie. But it worked. They didn’t bother to come in. But they already saw it all. Every toy, dish, kennel, bag of pet food and treats, every possible inkling that pets were present—even a picture of Stella sitting on one of the kennels! It was certainly a morning of worst-case scenarios.

Somehow we survived though. And somehow even the gigantic bag of Puppy Chow at the base of the basement stairs did not give Stella away. So both the cat and the puppy are still here, staking out their own territory and learning to get along in this tiny house. We all laughed it off and are now trying to prepare more carefully should a spontaneous inspection happen again. And it will, but we’re having way too much fun to send these guys home.


   Stella and friend take a much needed snooze.

Read Stella Part II here.

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