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Animals on Campus

Felix explains the different animals on Carleton's campus and around Northfield that you can meet!

Felix explains the different animals on Carleton's campus and around Northfield that you can meet!

If you’re coming to college this fall and you’re worried about missing your pets back at home, I’m here to allay your fears: today’s blog is all about the different animals you can say hi to on campus at Carleton!

SWA Dogs

An amazing first thing to start with here, the SWA dogs are often the highlight of my day when I visit them. To explain a bit, Carleton’s Office of Health Promotion has a student department of SWAs, or “student wellness advocates,” who run events and work to connect the student body with resources about mental and physical wellbeing. One of the things that the “SWAffice” coordinates is the SWA dogs: staff and faculty can have their dogs approved, then bring them in to say hi to students! There is usually one SWA dog every day, and the schedule shifts around a bit each term.

Bea the corgi puppy
Bea visiting the SWAffice!


Sometimes, faculty and staff will bring in a new dog and trial them in the SWAffice for a day to see if they would be a good fit as a SWA dog. Last week, I got to meet Bea, who is a 5-month old corgi puppy! She might become an official SWA dog in the future (I really hope so).

Town Animals

Often (like every day), the residents of Northfield will walk their dogs (and sometimes cats!) around campus, the Arb, or downtown Northfield, and they are usually more than happy to let you say hello! My friends and I like to try and meet as many pets as we can around town. There are also a few houses that have outdoor cats who will cross the sidewalk to say hi to you as you walk by!

A pen of llamas standing on a patch of grass
Not dogs or cats, but these llamas visited Northfield during New Student Week in September 2023!

Student Animals

Students typically aren’t allowed to have pets in their dorms (besides fish), but if you get approved to have an emotional support animal or service animal, you can obtain accommodations to keep them with you. When thinking about service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals though, it’s important to keep in mind the differences between them: service animals have been trained to perform specific tasks to assist their owners, whereas emotional support and therapy animals just provide support and companionship. If you’re interested in learning more about service animals (specifically dogs), you can check out my friend Clara’s website and blog, where she talks about her service dog Cassie and their experience together. Additionally, interest houses and townhouses will sometimes have resident cats for their inhabitants to take care of.

A yellow lab sits in the grass, wearing sunglasses.
Cassie, my friend Clara’s service dog, hanging out on the mini-Bald Spot

The Arboretum!!!

An amazing (and in my opinion, under-appreciated) resource where you can find animals is Carleton’s Arboretum! There’s a lot of wildlife that lives out there, so it may not be the best if you’re scared of snakes, frogs, and bugs, but there’s also plenty of rabbits, squirrels, birds, beavers, and deer to watch (and to be honest, there aren’t that many creepy-crawlies anyways). The Arb also has an office on campus that you can visit where there are some cool taxidermied birds and other animals.

A Carleton student poses with a snake in the Arb
My friend CJ with a snake they found on Arb Crew!

My Takeaways

Overall, I know it’s hard to be away from your pets (trust me, I KNOW) but there’s definitely ways you can hang out with animals while you’re at Carleton! Whether it be befriending snakes in the Arb, tracking down dogs in town to pet, stopping by the SWAffice every day, finding a friend on campus who has a pet here, or just calling your family every day to say hello to your pets at home, there are plenty of ways to interact with animals at Carleton.

A gray and white cat lying on a counter
Obviously I had to include a photo of my own cat, Kenny!

Felix (he/him) from Washington, DC is a freshman at Carleton this year interested in geologyenvironmental studies, and art history, and is excited to explore campus and all it has to offer throughout his first year. Felix is an officer of Carleton Birders as well as an editor with the blog this year, and participates in the Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts (CANOE), the Carleton Disability Alliance (CDA), Carls with Artistic Taste (CAT), the Equestrian Club, and the Gender & Sexuality Center (GSC). In his free time, Felix enjoys exploring the outdoors, drawing and painting, and listening to music (currently enjoying Hozier, Car Seat Headrest, The Velvet Underground, TV Girl, and Elliot Smith).