July 19, 2007

Childfree and Pet-Free

When people ask if we have pets I respond: "Heck no, I can can barely keep a plant alive!"

It’s true. If plants could talk, Home Depot would be at my door demanding I relinquish custody of their neglected fern. My lucky bamboo is lucky indeed, having survived months in stale, stagnant water.

We are childfree and pet-free, in part, because we could never figure out how we could manage to take responsibility for dependent beings, given our crazy lifestyle.

When I married my husband, he was working in international sales and I was a fashion sales agent. There were many times when we wouldn’t see each other for three weeks at a stretch. Our work, and our vacation travel, has taken us hundreds and thousands of miles away from home.

Even now, our luggage is stored in the laundry room so we can unpack, wash, and repack. I suspect there are some pairs of my husband’s socks that have never seen the inside of a drawer.

So when the assignment editor at Unscripted e-zine, a web-based publication focused on childfree living, was looking for someone to write a feature on pet-free CF folks, I volunteered to do some research and report back.

The resulting article No Kids and No Pets exposes the common rationales for pet-free living. I was surprised how many dog lovers I encountered amongst the pet-free. They expressed sentiments similar to mine: my husband and I both like dogs, but we like them too much to leave them for weeks at a time with a pet-sitter or parked at a kennel.

We don’t have pets for many of the same reasons we don’t have kids. I feel guilty enough about the plant; at least I won’t ever have to worry about the animal protection folks or social services at my door.

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AlphaGirl said...

Hi Laura-
Great post! I'm in the process of taking my part-time petsitting business to full-time. I cannot tell you the number of calls I receive from people who want sitting services for weeks at a time. I just don't understand the rationale of them having a pet if someone else(me) is going to care for it. I got a call from a couple wanting 6 weeks' worth of dog care!

I can understand the 2-3 week jaunt once or twice a year, but it boggles my mind that number of my colleagues who spend more time with their clients pets than the clients themselves. There are also lots of "designer" or "trendy" pets in our area. The owners neglect to understand the actual effort that needs to be invested in another living being. I really wish more people thought as carefully as you have regarding pet ownership..

I have two kitties. I have managed to raise them to the ripe old ages of 17 and 14. Don't ask me how...my plants, on the other hand, well....uh....

Lynn said...

Great post, Laura!

Much as I love flowers and plants, I've had numerous ferns, ficus and yucca plants die lonely deaths at my neglectful hands. "sigh"
My admittedly pathetic excuse is that I forget to water them. But I'm determined not to give up. I think I read somewhere that you can get self-watering thingummies. . .

Teri said...

LauraS -- You are so "free to move about the country", not to mention the world. I am tied down with two cats, four chickens, and now that we have a yard, perhaps a couple of dogs are in our future. I'd really like a mini donkey too. We have room to grow and a great pet-sitter locally. She is purple too!

I am particularly challenged by keeping all the plants (indoor and outdoors) alive in our new home. I enjoy trying. Next year, I am hoping to experiment with no till compost gardening. Gotta do something with all the chicken litter material.

Elise said...

I'm great with the outdoor flora. Not as good with indoor (although having taken up bonsai seems to have kicked it up a notch, since I get to prune, which I love! I have a couple of bonsai trees which, so far, have proven hardy).

I am both a dog and a cat person, but for this busy time in my life, career-wise, it's just cats for me. Yes, as a high school teacher I do get summers off, but as a private school high school teacher (at a boarding school, no less), I'm often at work in the evenings and sometimes on weekends, too. Not fair for pups.

Anonymous said...

Am childfree but "sitting on the fence" re pets! Hubby and I may or may not get a cat in the future as we both love animals, especially cats.
However we travel up to three times a year and I'm wondering whether that would be an issue - how easy would it be to find good care?
Thought about a dog but decided no, we both love dogs but they are a lot of work.
I found out just a week or two ago hubby used to have a pet hedgehog and turtle when he was young - isn't that CUTE?!
Anyway, childfree forever, pet-free for now maybe forever. We'll see (re the pets.)

Anonymous said...

P.S. The other thing is the money. I KNOW I would be (will be?) a bit of a "yuppy" cat mummy and spend a lot of the kitty cos that's just me. If it was a dog I'd send it to doggy day camp to treat it some times and so on.
So there's the financial side too.
Right now we live in a top floor flat, shared with our cat-hating landlord and we have no garden (although there is a park nearby) so pets are out for now.
When we get our own home, we'll see.
Even without the splurgings if animals get sick it can sometimes cost several thousand to get the neccessary treatment. So that's a consideration too.
Still, it does cost a LOT less than kids do and I believe pets would give me SO much more pleasure!!
I had a "furry sister" in our family cat who lived for 18 years, and brought me so much joy whereas my human brother brought me mainly pain!
Still, we'll see. For now, pet-free.

Teri said...

Athena -- Nice to hear from you! Thank you for signing your name at the bottom. Blogger.com does make it easy to leave a comment, but Anonymous comments are less fun from a publisher/reader standpoint.

I have a sick and aged cat right now who I abosolutely adore. You can see his photo under the post "Favorite Cat" on my personal blog. I cannot and will not spend thousands of dollars on a pet. That's when you have to make the call to put them down and out of their misery. Right now he is experiencing enough quality of life to hold off on that decision, but I know it looms in the near future. I have to watch him so carefully to read his moods.

If he doesn't get up to great me when I walk in the door, I know he is really not doing well. Such a great cat.

I have the good fortune to have a wonderful pet-sitter. She does my cats and my chickens when we leave town. We usually go on short trips and we do it often. You can find one in you area through you vet's office or by going to the International Pet Sitters website!

Now that we are in a home, we want those dogs we've always talked about, so our menagerie will grow. I am confident knowing we have found the right help we need when it's time for the next trip.