Saturday, December 01, 2012

Downsizing Man's Best Friend

This is one of those "WTF is wrong with people?" posts.

I was reading the New York Times today and saw an article about a family in North Carolina who downsized their home from a 3,200 square foot home to a much more manageable 1,300 square foot house.

Always attracted to stories about people who manage to simplify their lives, I read the article with interest. Ever since we bought our cabin in the woods in the southeastern Adirondacks, which is basically one big room with a bathroom and a sleeping alcove plus a sun porch that can double as a guest bedroom, I have realized that our larger home in New Jersey is really more than we need.

The article started off in a heart-warming way, explaining how the family realized that the only reason they used one of their bathrooms was to wash the family dog, Toby, and that they spent most of their time as a family in one section of the house, in the back where their family room was.
"'The eat-in kitchen and the family room in the back of the house,' Mr. Kelly says. 'If we looked at where we lived as a family, it was the back of the house. When I thought about it, I realized we never spent any time in the bedrooms, except to sleep. The boys did their homework in the kitchen. The house was a waste.'"
So the family sold their big house for $675,000 and instead bought a 1,300-square-foot ranch house for just $245,000, leaving lots of money to play with ($300,000 was spent on renovations). So they added a large deck (15' by 45'), redid the kitchen/dining room/living room area, and installed built-in storage space in their new home.
"Another big-ticket item was the built-in storage. Made by Bo Taylor Custom Woodworking, a local company, it cost the Kellys $52,000. But it includes an entrance closet where the boys can drop their book bags, and cabinetry throughout the house. It’s so extensive, in fact, that none of the bedrooms have a dresser."
The article goes on to describe their wonderful new situation. The gas/electric bills have fallen from $300 a month to $100 a month, their property taxes went down by about half, and they now keep things simple by digitizing their paperwork so they don't have stuff all over the house.

So what's the problem with this story? The last paragraph, the kicker:
"There has been one sad downside to the downsizing, though. The new house, the Kellys realized, was too small for a dog the size of Toby. So he has gone to live with a family that has a bigger house, as well as another collie to keep him company."
So, back to my first line. WTF??? You downsized your house but now decide it's "too small" for your DOG? Are you KIDDING me? First of all, the dog couldn't care less how much room he had. He just wanted to be with you. (Our two dogs are each sitting next to us on our respective couches here at the aforementioned cabin that is basically one big room. There is plenty of room.)

This house this family bought is a 3-bedroom house. People lived in houses this size for years back in my childhood (and still do) - along with dogs, cats, and hamsters and children - and there was room for everyone.

No, there was plenty of room for Toby in the house - but apparently not in their hearts. If they had a third child they wouldn't have gotten rid of the child just because they moved to a smaller house. So why is it OK to give away the dog? And what kind of example is that for their children in terms of teaching them a sense of responsibility?

Yes, I know this is not the most egregious example of uncaring dog owners. I know that there are worse dog owners, dog owners who turn their 15-year-old dog in to a high kill shelter because they don't feel like taking care of him, or turn their dog in because they're "moving to where dogs aren't allowed" or because "they had a new baby" or "don't have time." Yes, those people are much, much worse. At least these folks found a good home for the dog. But I don't think they should be having feature articles written about them in the Times. They don't deserve the attention.

Toby, you are probably the lucky one in this story. Hopefully your new family will value you more than your old one did.