During end of April this year, we made a decision not to allow our pet dogs in the insides our home (eg living room, bedroom and kitchen). It was the first time in my life where I do this as I have lived with pets my entire life.
What triggered the decision
I grew up with pets in my home. Often, I would visit homes of friends who have no pets and wondered why their homes are so clean and span.
With dogs allowed in my home, our home gets dirty quickly as my dogs shed lots of fur. Few times, there were tick outbreaks which was overwhelming to overcome. I find to my horror that there are HUNDREDS of ticks hiding behind my door curtain.
After that, I made sure I gave my dogs tick medicine the moment I see ticks appearing (I try not to give so often as I am sure if the medicine could kill ticks in large quantities, it must be to a certain extend harmful to my pets). I bathed them as often as I could…. but with my schedule, I could only manage about once a week.
When friends wanted to come over to visit, I had to spend a lot of time wiping, vacumming, sweeping and mopping the floors. This is on top of the daily sweeping and mopping that I have to do. It gets overwhelming that I often asks if we can visit them instead.
Which most of them do not mind because no matter how hard I tried to clean, a number of the visitors still developed mild allergies like running nose and itchiness when they are in my home. One honest auntie who offered constructive feedback told me that the house has allergens and smells…. if you have stayed in the home with pets for a long time, you would be immuned to the smell but visitors would be able to smell dog scents (even though you may bathe your dog everyday) and the smell is unpleasant to many.
My mom also had gotten quite attached to the dogs and they were even allowed in her bedroom….one under the bed and another sleeping at the side.
Her friends warned that with my mom’s health condition, having pets may be harmful as they may carry allergens and bacteria that may worsen her health as her immune system is not like how it used to be. It is especially so if there is someone in the family with asthma where it is not advisable to have pets in the home (in most cases, they would not even keep pets).
Also both my pet dogs are male dogs…. with one of them being an alpha male. They sometimes fought and it gets quite violent and hard to separate them. It would be dangerous if the fight happened in the home and my mom harmed herself when trying to separate them (either get bitten or suffer a fall).
As we happened to have overseas visitors staying over, we decided at the same time to implement the difficult decision of not allowing the pets in the home permanently.
Disclaimer: This post unfortunately would not be applicable if you are staying in an apartment or condominium where there is no compound to put your pet to.
Here are the implementations we did:
1. We ensured they have sufficient shade and protection from the elements. We have a corner house with a verandah and the back part with a roof extension.
2. We had a separating gate constructed at the side to separate the dogs from fights. However before the gate was up, I placed a barrier using flower pots, bricks and containers.
3. My dogs have different temperaments. One of them had to sleep under something hence I constructed a make shift tent by pinning blankets with cloth pegs. After a while, the doggie loved to go under the tent.
4. Another (the alpha male) even though he is a bully, he is very scared of thunder/lightning and fireworks. He literally shakes in terror. In my multiracial neighborhood, there are often firework crackers being played almost all year round to celebrate major and minor festivals. Not to mention the thunderstorms during the rainy seasons. During the initial period, I actually went out to accompany him …..I would be reading or just sitting and relaxing and he would be okay.
5. I ensured their areas are frequently cleaned- swept and washed with disinfectant.
6. When eating, I fed them together…. because even though they seemed to fight a lot, somehow it is strange that they don’t eat much if they are not fed together. Probably due to competition or companionship. I would chain the alpha male dog and let the docile dog out and feed them at the same area.
What happened after we do not allow our pets in our home
1. Dealing with resistance
During the beginning, it is terrible. My mom (who is forgetful) often throw tantrums. She would get up in the middle of the night to try to let the dogs in….. and my dogs pulled at her heartstrings by whining each time they sensed her presence. After about a month, she stopped the tantrums as she got used to the pets outside.
My pets whined a lot but it slowed down after about 3 weeks as they got used to the outside environment.
2. My house go so so much cleaner.
It was a huge difference between letting your pets in and out of the home. My house is now so much cleaner….. in the past I had to sweep twice a day and mop at least once a day. Each day it has to be done without fail or else my feet would get black from walking within my own home.
Now, the house can go a day or two without any sweeping. I probably only mop my house twice a week at most and I no longer need to wear slippers while walking in my own home. I have some back pain and it helps when I did not need to do the mandatory cleaning each day.
Even the table surfaces are not dusty quickly- my TV table used to have dog hair on them which appears the next day after wiping. Now the house is no longer that dusty.
3. My dogs lost weight
Both my dogs lost weight and looked healthier. They are moving around more often at the garden and going around. Previously when in the home, they used to lodge around without much movement.
Some animal lovers may condemn me for not letting my pets in the home. However, as far as I know, those staying in my neighborhood who kept medium size and large dogs also do not allow their dogs in their home. Except if theirs are small miniature dogs like poodles.
I consider myself a moderate animal lover (as I always prepare a container of dog biscuits to feed the strays) but I never realized how much of work and stress I was adding on to my life when my pets were allowed to roam free in my house.
Now with them in the compound, a lot of the frequent thorough cleaning to make the interior of my home hospitable were removed. I have more time and freedom in my hands to concentrate on more important tasks and priorities instead of having to get stuck in the rut of compulsory cleaning that I need to do each day.
One of the main reasons why there are many strays in the road and animal shelters are because people acquired cute little puppies to keep them but later grow overwhelmed with the additional cleaning and grooming to maintain them. The pet becomes a burden and an inconvenience once they outgrow their cuteness.
It would be possible to keep the pets if we try to reduce the workload to prevent ourselves from feeling too overwhelmed. I definitely love my pet dogs and I want to be taking after them for as long as they live. However, I also need to have time for other priorities and tasks in my life.