Pets can be wonderful, there’s no doubt about that, but they can also be a handful and wreak havoc on some people’s idea of a simple life. Be sure to consider all the aspects of having a pet and the impact it will have on your simple living. You may find they will fit right in!
It seems to be a common idea among simple living advocates and minimalists that owning a pet is not really conducive to a simple lifestyle. I agree on certain levels. However, I also firmly believe a pet can enhance your simple lifestyle as well. We brought one of our dogs into the family long before simple living became a part of it, and that made it easier to adopt our second dog about a year ago.
If you are thinking about getting a pet, there are some things I would consider before doing so, both the positive and negative aspects it will have on your simple lifestyle. Of course, the type of pet you get will determine which of these will apply to you, but many of them are the same regardless.
Let’s start with the negatives just to get them out of the way.
-More cleaning. Whether we have had fish, dogs or any other pet, there is always more cleaning in our home with a pet. With fish, the tank had to be thoroughly cleaned every couple of weeks, adding 1-2 hours of work on the weekend. With our dogs, I spend time using lint rollers on our bedding and furniture and vacuuming and sweeping more often than I otherwise would. Don’t forget cleaning up waste as well.
-More difficult to travel. Most simple livers like to travel. Having a pet makes it much harder to hop on a plane without first making plans for their care. Kennel reservations for dogs and cats, or finding someone to feed your fish or bird takes some extra planning time.
-Increased expenses. As a responsible pet owner, you will spend money on your pets needs. Basics like food, shots and leashes will all be a regular expense. If you have a dog you may need to add on kenneling and training as well. Pets don’t have to cost a fortune, but they will cost you some money.
-Time. Unless you get a fish or reptile, I can’t think of any other pet you could have that won’t require some time for bonding, playing and interaction. For most people this is one of the positives of having a pet, and it may be for you as well, as long as you plan accordingly. For instance, our dogs are VERY energetic and require a lot of exercise and playing. Be sure to research the amount of time you will need to spend with your pet so it doesn’t become a burden.
Now for the positive aspects of pet ownership in relation to simple living!
-More time outdoors. If your pet is a dog, you may naturally spend more time outdoors taking them on walks or to the park. You may also find that you prefer to travel to areas in nature where you can take your ‘best friend’ instead of kenneling them when you leave town.
-Increased health benefits. It’s no secret that studies have shown several different health benefits people experience that are pet owners. Some of those benefits include decreased cholesterol, blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Check out this article on WebMD to learn about more of them.
-More happiness and calm. Having a pet that you love and care for can bring a lot of enjoyment and compassion into your life. Their presence and companionship after a hard day is also very soothing and calming. These are all high priorities for most simple living and minimalist advocates.
If you’re considering bringing a pet into your family and simplified life, be sure to weight your version of simple living with what the pet will require in terms of care, companionship and cost. Doing so, you can make the best decision based on whether a pet will enhance or detract from your simple life.