I recently saw a comment on a blog post that made me stop in my tracks. The blog post was (of course) about minimalism. The comment was from a person who was also aspiring to a minimalist lifestyle.
Now I truly can’t remember which blog post this was, or exactly what the comment said. But I remember part of the comment, and that part was this… (not word for word)
‘I still have some things to get rid of, such as X, Y, Z and my dog.’
Now I don’t remember the other items. But I remember that poor dog.
As a minimalist myself, and a long time pet owner I have been in this position. I have been decluttering my home and my life, stumbling upon chewed up dog toys along the way. But never did I consider that in order to clear out the excess I would actually have to get rid of my pooch!
Of course, there are often plenty of good reasons why you may no longer be able to care for your pet. But I don’t think minimalism is one of them. If you find yourself unable to provide your pet with the things it needs – toys, food, shelter, exercise and attention, then I can completely understand.
But I don’t believe you need to be pet-free in order to be a minimalist.
Sure, pets have things. My dog has food and water bowls, a whole cupboard dedicated to his food, treats, leashes, collars and brushes. Toys, blankets and a bed of his own. Yes it can get frustrating when my clean and clear floor spends half the day littered in the toys he’s pulled out to play with, but that’s part of having a pet. My pooch brings me lots of joy, and adds lots of value to my life. Without him I wouldn’t get outdoors each day (whatever the weather) to breathe the fresh air and stretch my legs. I wouldn’t have met and started conversations with countless neighbours who have four legged friends of their own. I wouldn’t have a toasty companion to curl up at my feet and watch a film with while J works away. I wouldn’t have my ferocious little alarm telling me that the post has arrived.
My pet adds value and brings joy to my life in many ways. And yes he has things that I don’t need, but I need my dog. And I see my dog as a living, breathing creature with feelings and needs.
As they say, a dog is for life, not for Christmas.
No one will convince me that I need to kick him out in order to fit into a minimalist shaped mould.
He isn’t a holey pair of socks or a spare pair of scissors. He isn’t outdated paperwork or our 5th set of playing cards.
He’s a part of our family, and the idea of getting rid of him to help declutter my home is as bizarre as suggesting I’d have to get rid of my partner in order to declutter some more.
Perhaps the person that commented has other reasons, perhaps they have realised they don’t value their pet as they should, perhaps they plan on travelling the world with their backpack. Perhaps I have got them all wrong.
But this isn’t an attack on that person, and this isn’t a declaration that you must keep your pet no matter what.
It’s simply a post to say that minimalism comes in many shapes and sizes, and don’t ever feel pressured to ascribe to a checklist in order to fit in.
I can keep my dog, and you can keep your college sweater.
If it adds value, of course.