Thursday, September 29, 2011

Small Homes, Small Pets

I have two dogs.  Wait, let me rephrase daughters have two dogs.  One for each girl.  A Chihuahua named Olive and a Miniature Pinscher named Missy.  They are simply darling.  They drive me insane on a daily basis.  And that is putting it mildly.  While I'm typing this, the Min Pin is staring at me as I sit on the couch with my laptop pleading with her eyes for me to allow her on the forbidden furniture.  She thinks I don't know that she gets on the couches when we leave.  I ignore this breach of trust between the two of us as long as she keeps her mouth shut to my daughter about how I shut her in the bedroom when they are gone sometimes.  Its an unspoken agreement.  The Chihuahua is currently licking the same spot on my rag rug with the embroidered roses over and over and over.  Something must have spilled there.  She pauses mid lick to look at me when I hiss at her to cut it out and immediately resumes her licking.

Missy whines when we're gone.  Jumps up and down like an acrobat when its supper time and she's about to be fed, occasionally gets in the trash and chews up discarded cheese wrappers and lunchmeat packages and barks every time someone walks by on the sidewalk outside the big picture window.  Olive is a licker and a barker and a sneezer and a chewer and a couch sitter.  She doesn't even try to hide it like Missy does.  

Crazy.  They drive me crazy.

But we love them.  They are family.  What would we do without our furry friends?  I find that keeping pets in a small home is a common problem and one that is gaining more attention, especially as people downsize or choose to live in more urban areas and occupy duplexes, apartments and smaller homes.

I dedicate this post to animals well suited for small home living.  Pros and cons.  I'll try not to outnumber the pros with the cons as I'm highly irritated at my dogs right now.  Missy got in the bathroom trash today.  She's grounded.

I am not a fan of reptiles.  Not turtles, lizards, or dare I say it...snakes!  Eeek!  However many people love them and they are ideally suited for small home dwellers.  Their habitat is nice and confined aaaaand they don't bark or shed.  However, they need a lot of attention in the form of cleanliness in their environment.  Let's face it...they stink if not properly cared for and we all know every smell is accentuated in a small home.  They don't cuddle, though.  And you can't walk one around the neighborhood on a leash.  Well, I suppose you could...

Gerbils, hamsters and mice are also ideal for small spaces.  They need only a wheel to run around and around and around (and around) on with fresh food and water.  Again, their cages need to be cleaned so frequently that it is almost a daily chore.  My daughter had a white mouse named Elephant when she was around five years old and it would kick its little wood shavings out of its cage so often that I just stored the Dustbuster in a drawer under the table that its cage sat on.  Also it creeped me out with its beady little eyes. 

I love birds!  Love them!  I think they are beautiful and I love listening to them sing.  They also are messy and honestly, birds can require as much attention as a dog or cat in the form of petting and being spoken too.  Cockatiels can be especially sensitive and molt if neglected.  And some live for up to 40 years!  We had two parakeets named Lucy and Ethel years ago and I adored them.  They would come out of their cage and fly around the living room in the evenings sometimes.  Once when we came home from a short road trip we let them out and as we were carrying in our luggage, they flew right out the back door.  I choose to think of them in a nest in the trees in our backyard and I like to think they pay us the occasional visit now and again. 

Hermit crabs!  Not cuddly, but extremely low maintenance and you can decorate their shells with non-toxic paint!  Just ask your vet or the pet store before you decorate.  No harsh dyes or glitters, though! 

Did you know you can train your pet rabbit to use a litter box?  Its true!  I have a fried whose daughter got a bunny five Easters ago in her Easter basket and it uses the litter box and sleeps in a dog bed in her room.  She dresses it in little doll dresses and pushes it around in a baby doll stroller.  But it chews constantly.  They have to give it special snacks and toys to keep its teeth from growing.  It chewed my friends Manolo Blahnik shoes and now they have a love/hate relationship. 

Goldfish.  Who gets tired of these sunny fellows?  I'm not a fan of cleaning the bowl and you can't hold it in your lap and it doesn't look happy to see you when you come home from a long day at work, but they are fun to watch!

The same for salt water aquariums although the maintenance is much higher!

I love kitty cats and they are ideally suited for small homes.  They require little in the form of backyard square footage and once trained to use a litter box they are extremely low maintenance.  Most cats shed on furniture, though.  Some more than others. 
Man's best friend.  Just look at that face!  There are so many articles and columns written about dogs kept inside the house.  Click here for a great article about dogs suited for apartment dwellers.  The key to choosing a dog for a small home is to evaluate your needs versus the dogs needs.  How much exercise and attention can you give a dog?  Each dog is different and some breeds are much more needy than others.  When choosing a dog for your small home, I hope everyone does their research.  There is nothing sadder to me than a pet that needs to be found a new home once it is discovered that its family didn't fit its lifestyle.  Or vice versa.

Whatever your pet of choice, I know that animals enhance my life and I hope that if you love animals you do not let a small home impede your decision to have a pet!



  1. I had a dog growing up , but when I got my own house I said NO pets inside. Funny...we have two dogs and fish and turtles, INSIDE.
    My daughter has a Chihuahua/MinPin mix, so I know what you mean! ;)

  2. I have Westies and a cat. We are downsizing some time next year, when my husband is settled in his new job. I am so thankful our dogs are small so that when we sell this huge house and buy a smaller one, they will still "fit."

    I am still praying for Genevieve, and her own small house:

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011
    A Prayer for a Little House
    It has been almost three years to the day since my husband lost his job. He has no immediate prospects. My family is now on the verge of losing our home. In the moments when this knowledge pushes its way to the surface, I can't breathe and the room spins. Was there really a time I obsessed about a larger house and looked down on this little place? Now I would do almost anything to keep it.

  3. ...amber this has been the most fun post!...what is it exactly that calls us to have that extra heartbeat around the house...pets are such a joy..the greatest compliment i ever received about my home came from a seven year old...sitting on my sofa with a cat hanging on her shoulder...a dog sleeping on her feett...and the sound of 4 little boys running up and down the stairs behind her...she laughed and said..."you better not come to laney's house if you don't like animals and little children!"...twenty years later...just thinking of that moment makes me cry...

  4. Hey there, I'm a new follower and I wanted to introduce myself. I had to laugh as I began reading your post about dogs. I can totally relate. We hava a Shi tzhu, (probalby spelled that wrong)and she is like a person. Love her to pieces but sometimes....

    Hope the rest of your weekend is great.

  5. I am the lucky person who got to be your 100th follower! I found your blog through Pinterest, and I can already tell you're going on my daily blog read roll! I'll see you often.

    Mary @ Redo 101

  6. I have a small dog living with me. I am a dog person more than a cat person.

  7. I love dogs and I hope to have a Beagle someday!