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.


KGMom said...

Oh, Mimi--you are right. This is just so wrong on many levels.
I much prefer the story of a week ago where people risked (and then lost) their lives to save their dog.
My dog is an extension of us. We promise her food, shelter, care and to be with her at the end, whenever that is.

Kathi G. said...

Yep, people are morons. I would never go somewhere where I couldn't take my cats. WTF indeed!

Fran said...

They sounded insufferable before getting the downsized dog... once I read that, it was really all over for me.


Kulkuri said...

The only problem Charlie (the snowbird dog) had in our small place of about 700 sq ft was getting traction on the wood floors to get back up on his paws. Of the 700 sq ft less than 500 were available to Charlie as he never went up in the loft. Charlie is a black lab mix which is a good sized dog. The only problem was having to step over him as he would pick places to lie where he created a roadblock.

You're right, the people are idiots.

Nan said...

WTF is right. Some people should not have pets.

Mauigirl said...

KGMom, I agree - sad though that story was, it showed how much the family cared about their dog.

Kathi, agree - I would never go anywhere I couldn't take my pets.

Fran, I agree about the people - they did sound rather insufferable even the end. I find quite a few of the people the Times features in their articles tend to be a bit insufferable, LOL!

Kulkuri, in the case of one of our dogs, it doesn't matter how big or small the area is - she manages to find a spot, usually near your feet, where you have to step over her no matter what. She especially loves to lie down in the kitchen in front of the stove when I am cooking so that I can't stand in front of the stove to do anything, or open the oven door!

Nan, my husband said these people should go on a list so that if they ever try to get another dog they will not be allowed!

Mauigirl said...

Oops, I meant "even BEFORE the end."

Liz Hinds said...

Yeah, George, we're going to have to get rid of you because you make the house smell. Not to mention the hairs you leave all over the place that block up the hoover. Sorry but we're realised that you're just too much of a dog for us.

Sherry Peyton said...

Actually they continue to live a really upscale life it seems to me, and so I don't buy the downsizing so much either. They just wanted to distribute their wealth in a different way--closet space. They never cared much for the dog in the first place. That is kinda obvious.

Christopher said...


People are garbage.

One of the RNs Jim works with told him her neighbor has a chocolate Lab, 11 years old. He's healthy but has developed arthritis.

The dog's owner said she can't be bothered giving the poor dog the arthritis meds each morning so she plans to take the dog to a shelter.

She's had the dog since he was a puppy. You can't make this shit up.

If you aren't prepared for a life time commitment to your dog, then don't get the dog in the first place.

Mauigirl said...

Horrible. People like that shouldn't be allowed to ever own a pet again. It happens way too often - and do these people seriously think it will be easy to find a new home for an 11-year-old dog with arthritis? Luckily there are a few generous souls who do adopt older dogs (and cats) but I'm sure a lot never make it out of the shelter.

Mauigirl said...

Liz, I suspect that was rather the real reason they didn't want the dog - obviously he was used to lying on couches and they probably decided their new pristine house shouldn't have dog hair and dogginess in it.

Sherry, I agree - their lifestyle is definitely still very upscale since they felt the need to put $300k into this "downsized" ranch they bought. Sheesh. What killed me was their effort to seem humble when they said they weren't the type of people who would hire someone to clean for them. Now THAT's what I think it would be worth the money to do!

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Good essay about obnoxious people. :)
How mean to that poor dog!