Bella the Great Dane Goes to Med School

IMG_1437.JPG

One of the happiest moments I can recall in my life was holding a 12-pound, 8-week-old ball of fur that would quickly grow into a 100-pound Great Dane with a big heart and a tail seemingly made of solid metal.

I remember my mom saying I would wish I didn’t get a dog when I finally got into medical school one day. My Great Dane Bella spent the next four years of her life growing up alongside me and my family, plus our 10-year old little dog Rocky. 

When I found out last December that I was accepted into medical school at PNWU, I was ecstatic. That excitement was quickly quelled when I began to worry about how Bella’s life would change dramatically. In fact, looking back, I think obsessing over Bella’s feelings actually helped me to cope with the fear and anxiety I felt while anticipating the start of medical school.

I considered all of the options – bring her with me to Yakima, leave her home with my family, find a roommate with a dog, etc. I was so worried that I would make her unhappy and shorten her life in the process, but I knew, through all of the concern and worrying, that I wouldn’t be happy without her.

I had to give it a shot.

Luckily, I have wonderful parents that would be willing to take her home at any point if she didn’t do well living with me in Yakima.

IMG_0609.JPG

We moved to Yakima a few weeks before school began, allowing time to get her acclimated to living in an apartment. It was a rough start, but we quickly made friends (both two-legged and four-legged) and started having doggie playdates. She began going to doggie daycare twice a week when I had especially long days at school and, to my delight, she absolutely loved it.

She comes with me to local breweries and loves to hang out with all of my classmates. In fact, she seems to have adjusted to our new life better than I ever could have imagined, which made my adjustment to life in medical school much smoother all around.

No matter what happens throughout my day, I always come home to unconditional love from Bella.

I think that having my dog in medical school has helped me become a better student. She forces me to take time away from my studies to go for a walk, throw the ball or meet up with friends to have a play date. I am the sole person she relies on every day to take care of her and I take pride in accepting that responsibility.

Prospective medical students and even classmates often ask me if I think they should get a dog while in medical school. I tell them that, even though it is a lot of responsibility, I wouldn’t trade having Bella with me through school for anything.

IMG_0267.JPG

She has supported me more than she will ever know, and I’m so grateful to continue along this journey to becoming a physician with her by my side. 

Megan Charlton

Osteopathic Medical Student - 1st Year (OMS I)

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

Megan Charlton