University of Mississippi education major offers advice to pet owners


Jane DeCleva

Ali Telfer, a University of Mississippi sophomore from Nashville studying elementary education, is often seen on campus with her black dog, Mae Mae, a pet she adopted from the Humane Society of Oxford.

“Mae Mae’s litter was born at Sardis Lake when she and her brother and sisters were found by someone who couldn’t take care of them all,” Telfer said.

Some college students adopt pets from the Humane Society and animal shelters without understanding the commitment owning a cat or dog entails. Telfer’s parents weren’t completely on board with her decision to adopt Mae Mae.

“My mom said she would have my allowance cut in half if I got a dog, so she had to be kept a secret for a while,” she said. “Now that my parents have actually met her, they are so happy for me and love her just as much as I do.”


Telfer said Mae Mae has helped her deal with stress.

“With all the stress that comes along with school, it is so nice to have her by my side,” she said. “My physical well-being, and the creation of a healthy fitness routine, is now established in my life because of her. I have shown my friends and everyone we come in contact with how beneficial this relationship is because of our companionship.”

According to the Humane Society’s website, the shelter houses approximately 4,500 animals annually.

“We have a 187 in-house population as of Monday, Sept. 26, and roughly half this number in foster homes,’ said employee Kayla Russell.

Telfer said Mae Mae has been a healthy addition to her life in many ways. “I have a daily routine now that makes me get up early in the morning because of her to let her go outside,” she said. “I am already up, can leave for campus earlier than I normally would have, and I get more tasks finished. I also care about how much exercise she gets, so I end up getting sunshine and walks in more often as well.”

Telfer said training the dog has taught her a lot about self discipline. “I wouldn’t recommend getting a dog when they are young during the school year, because it is a lot of work,” she said, “but I got that part over with during the summer.”

Telfer watches for signs and takes needed precautions for her pet. “I had her for a week before I started getting worried about her,” she said. “I took her into the vet only to find that she had a tapeworm.”

Mae Mae goes with Ali everywhere, whether it’s to the Grove, Sardis Lake or the Square. Local restaurants with outdoor patios happily bring out dog bowls, sometimes to Telfer’s surprise.

“When people gather to pet her, they start talking, and it brings people around here together,” she said. “She loves Newks. I love to dress her up and bring her to the Square and Grove for people to get a kick out of it.”

Telfer’s top tips on being a dog owner are to regularly walk them, give them treats, make sure they are social and good with people, don’t slack off during crate training, and show them love.




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