We got a dog.
Hi, I’m Algirdas. I come from Lithuania, but have also studied in Sweden, and now I ‘ve come to Regensburg, Germany. I have trained as a molecular microbiologist, and just made a switch to structural biology, hoping to solve the structure of the stressosome complex using cryo-EM.
And me and my girlfriend got a dog.
Dogs are four-legged mammals that are spread throughout the planet, and were among the first, if not the first, species domesticated by humans. That was kind of where my personal experience ended, along side cleaning a hamster cage and renting a house with a semi-autonomous outdoor cat included in the package. So I was completely fresh in this. We also got an adult dog (apparently puppies require a lot of work) from a shelter – and thus Beatka came to our lives.
And woke us up twice during the night for several days. Cleaning was a major event then. Cleaning all kinds of things.
Getting a dog is a moderate lifestyle shift. Everything is a bit more organized, a bit differently organized. And there is a new law involved, X+dog, where X is any social, outdoors, indoors or in between activity you can think of. So there was some anxiety there. Thankfully, this is Germany.
Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Germany. Dogs are everywhere in Germany. Even as I write this, Beatka is lying in our office in the University of Regensburg. Students and staff can be seen bringing dogs to lectures. So yes, we can bring our dog to work. Most restaurants and bars also allow them in. We can take it almost anywhere.
The dog itself was also quick to relieve our fears. Beatka is not a pure bred dog. It seems to be a mix of a couch potato, a cat, and, judging from the ears, some sort of bat thing. It seems most happy on a couch, getting scratched by anyone within arms reach. She was accepted as a colleague in minutes, and accepted everyone in the office in about the same amount of time.
As a PhD student, it feels like mobility is probably one of the most important things you can have. That and flexible working hours, meaning you can flex that Friday night into a microscopy session until 2 in the morning, or for tending to cells that just won‘t grow. There is a certain pride among students in working late. But getting the dog, while troublesome at first, and occasionally later, is worth it. It makes you schedule more. It makes you responsible for your decisions.
And the unrelenting love also helps.