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The College Stowaway

How I Snuck My Dog Into My College Apartment

By Stephanie RosasPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

As a college student, I knew adopting a dog was probably not the best idea. The day I took Mason back to my apartment, I had only a few dollars in my bank account and final exams a week away. Besides financially and mentally struggling, I was also a horrible emotional mess that had just been dumped earlier that month. I had no time, money, or energy, yet I couldn’t stand the idea of him being sent away to a pound. Mason, a 70-pound black mixed bully breed, was sure to meet misfortune if he went to the pound.

“Okay… I’ll take him home until we find him a permanent owner.”

I still laugh every time I think back on how I had actually believed I was only going to momentarily foster Mason. Knowing my apartment didn’t allow pets, I couldn’t imagine actually adopting him. However, I knew that I could probably manage to sneak him in a week or two while I found him his permanent home, but to commit the rest of my lease to hiding this large dog was going to be too difficult. I lived at an off-campus housing that had a strict ‘No Pet’ policy in place. Because the residents were all college students, the complex also had security and cameras to ensure rules were followed. I didn't feel ready to care for a dog long term and I most definitely did not feel up for the challenge of having a stowaway. But as time passed, Mason and I bonded and before I knew it, I didn’t want to say goodbye…

And so, Mason stayed and now I have this story of how Mason remained a stowaway in my apartment for two years (yes, I renewed my lease knowing I wasn’t allowed to have him there).

Mason and I cuddling in the apartment he hid in

Mason wasn’t a small tea cup breed that I could hide under my bed or in my closet. He is pretty large dog and I am what people tend to describe as “fun size”, so next to me Mason only looks bigger. Since hiding him was going to be nearly impossible, I knew I'd have to think creatively if I didn't want to get caught.

Potty Breaks

In order to ensure he wasn't seen by the office staff, I made sure to take Mason out outside of office hours. I was never sure how old Mason was, but I was positive he wasn't a puppy meaning he'd be able to hold his bladder for relatively long periods of time and that there would be no need to potty train. I also knew that the cameras were hardly looked at after hours unless there was a specific reason. Because of this, I scheduled his bathroom breaks before 9 am when the front office would open and after 5 pm when they closed. So, Mondays thru Fridays, we followed this schedule as close as possible. In the occasional event, that Mason needed to go out during office hours, we'd go out during lunch times. After awhile Mason seemed to understand the routine and hardly ever needed to go during the day. We also avoided popular areas and usually snuck out through a back fence to avoid being seen by security.


Like most apartment complexes, the front office had to notify my roommates and I ahead of time if they had a reason to enter our apartment. This always gave me sufficient time to find a momentary hideout for Mason. Mason was extremely friendly, lovable, and obedient so he made friends easily. There were many people that came to love him very much at the University of Central Florida and that would gladly offer to care for him whenever maintenance came by or inspections were done. I would also joke around branding Mason as the "community dog" because whenever any of my friends were stressed because of school or work, I'd let Mason hang out with them. Plenty of my college buddies took Mason on walks, sleepovers, park visits, and even play dates. Mason was loved not just by me, but by a whole group of college students who were willing to risk sneaking him into their apartment as well.

Making Friends

The staff might not have ever realized that the baked goods that I'd periodically gift them had an underlying reason. I needed to find out more information about how the office worked in order to figure out if I could get away with hiding Mason. As it turns out, brownies and cookies are a great conversation starter and apparently enough to open up to strangers. I ended up befriending most of the staff in the front office, so I was always one of the first to know about upcoming changes or inspections. I felt so confident in knowing what was going on in the front office that I just renewed my lease and continued hiding Mason. I briefly had attempted to claim him as a service dog since the apartment complex allowed them, but without a doctor's note they would not agree to it. They were also not suspicious of the random dog questions I'd ask.

Fake It Till You Make It

Because I knew that service animals were allowed in the apartment complex, I purchased a dog vest that looked intimidating and professional. Mason and I practiced plenty of tricks at my apartment that would allow him to pass as a respectable and obedient pet. Most people never asked if Mason was a service dog because he played the role so well they just assumed he was. I would even take Mason on campus because he was just so well behaved that I was never questioned or even raised suspicion that he might not be a service animal.

After two years, we moved on to an apartment that would allow Mason to live there. However, I can't believe that it's been almost seven years since Mason first started living with me as a stowaway. I'd like to believe that he knew what was going on and that he loved the adventure as well.

Mason taking his morning walk before the apartment office opens


About the Creator

Stephanie Rosas

just your average writer writing about stuff.

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