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“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France
We love our pets. They’re furry, cute, cuddly, and loyal. We treasure them and love them, and the bond between us grows every day. But with owning pets comes “stuff.” Dog beds, toys, medicine, grooming supplies, clothing, collars, blankets, and everything else in between. We spoil our pets year after year believing their life is somehow better with all the items we provide. But if you sit down and think about it, it’s easy to see that the amount of “things” we buy for our pets is more to please ourselves than it is for them. We buy the overindulgent dog treats, we splurge on the extra squeaky and soft toy, and we decorate our pets in luxurious clothing. And for what?
I once worked in a pet facility, a “pet hotel.” I’ve seen firsthand the over-the-top things owners come in with, the comforts they provide their pets. One owner spoiled her little terrier to an extreme. I knew we were in for fun when she walked in sporting a pink tutu, bedazzled collar, and tiara. She came prepared, bringing us a down filled plush bed and name brand suitcase, packed to the max with toys and costumes, including a swimsuit the owner requested we put on her pup to swim in. When we put it on for her, the pup stood uncomfortably still, occasionally lifting a leg to take an awkward step forward. Truth is – the dog didn’t want it on nor did she need it. Every luxury item this owner brought in was cute, but unnecessary. The majority of the items went completely untouched during the length of the stay. One thing was clear – the items were purchased for the owner, not the dog.
You may think a life of minimalism is not possible with pets, especially after hearing the story above. But it’s actually incredibly simple. There’s one thing you must get in to your head: Pet’s don’t need much. The quickest and simplest way to bring a pet happiness is to show it love. If you go to your local vet and ask them what a pet needs to survive and have a healthy life, you’ll most likely hear some of the following items:
- Medicines (such as heartguard)
- Flea Protection
- Proper Grooming
Simple – right? Being in your home is shelter enough. A water bowl is really all that’s necessary for water. A few grooming tools, such as shampoo and a brush, will take up maybe a small drawer. The medicine and flea protection can be purchased monthly, leaving no extras lying around, but if you do purchase in bulk they hardly take up any space and can easily fit in the drawer with your grooming supplies. Playing fetch in the yard or tug-o-war in the living room leaves you with two toys. If there is one toy in particular your pet adores, you’ve now got three total toys. And finally, perhaps the item that will take up the most space, is food. A small bag can fit in a cabinet in the kitchen or in your pantry. A larger bag may require a larger space. Combined with a food bowl, you’ve now taken up a corner in your home. A collar is not listed above, but is a recommended item for identification purposes. All those items combined, the total space used is a drawer and a corner. Of course, you may find the occasional item you adore and believe your pet will also – such as a scratching post or new plush bed. Before splurging on any purchase, be sure to consider who you’re really buying the item for. Are you purchasing it because it will fill a need or bring happiness to your pet, or are you purchasing it because it’s “cute”?
During your journey minimizing your home, you should also minimize the items you have for your pets. Donate items that rarely get used to local pet shelters. Recycle items that are beat up or cannot be repaired. For the remaining items, such as clothing, decide whether or not they serve a need for your pet or if they were purchased for you. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be able to breathe at the amount of space that opened up. And with plenty of love, your pet will certainly be a happy one.
Minimalism Is Simple prescription: Spoil your pet with lots of love every day. 🙂
For tips on how to begin your decluttering journey, you can Start Here, or snag a copy of the 30 Day Challenge (our Minimalism and Decluttering eBook).