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What Have You Given Up for Your Dogs?

Sacrifice is an inherent part of having animals in your life. Here's what I've given up.

Kezia Willingham  |  Dec 29th 2014


We make many sacrifices when bringing animals into our homes. They are a major responsibility, just like children. When I think about the pervasive loneliness I felt before adding animals to my life, I am thankful for the companionship they’ve brought to my children and myself. Some people don’t have large, extended, loving families. But we can create that sense of belonging with an animal family.

The more involved I get in animal rescue, the more I realize that sacrifice is an inherent part of having animals. Here are the top five things I sacrifice in order to provide for my cats and dogs.

1. We don’t take vacations

I’ve wanted to take my kids to Disneyland for a few years now. At this point in my career, I probably could afford to if I didn’t spend so much money on my animals. But I love my animals and enjoy spending time with them every day, whereas a vacation is a temporary event. So even though I’ve prioritized my animals over a vacation, it’s not a decision I regret.

Walking in the snow with your loved ones is kind of like a mini-vacation, right? (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

Walking in the snow with your loved ones is kind of like a mini-vacation, right? (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

2. We don’t have nice furniture

I bought my first house about six years ago. Part of living in a nice house is having decent furniture. I also bought my first couch and first bedroom set. Well, within months of purchasing the new bed frame, my dogs chewed on it. They still do once in a while.

My dogs are very comfortable on the couch. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

My dogs are very comfortable on the couch. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

My leather couch, on the other hand, has had the entire bottom ripped apart by the cats. In fact, somehow the cats lounge inside the underneath of it. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But they do. When I first brought my dog, Daisy, home as a foster, she peed and pooped on my $2,000 couch because she didn’t know how to go to the bathroom like a normal dog. She would walk around, and it would just fall out of her. Fortunately, Daisy now mostly uses potty pads and goes outside. She never uses my couch as a bathroom anymore. The thing about things is: They are temporary. They are not living beings. I do not ban my pets from my furniture because the furniture is not my priority. My relationship with my animals is.

3. We don’t have a lot of spare time

I am never lonely, even if I am "alone." (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

I am never lonely, even if I am “alone.” (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

I don’t like to be away from my house more than I have to because I miss my animals when I’m gone. On the days when I have a lot of errands to run, I feel slightly guilty for the time spent out and about. Fortunately, there is almost always someone at home, so the animals are not left without human company for extended periods. For this I feel blessed. I enjoy spending time with my animals. They bring a sense of peace and comfort to my life. The time I spend with my animals is an investment in their well-being, as well as mine.

4. We don’t see friends and family often enough

Ruby hates house guests, especially my ex. But she loves us! (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

Ruby hates house guests, especially my ex. But she loves us! (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

My husband of five years left me about six months after I adopted my first foster cat, a black kitty our son named Starry. Most people would consider that a pretty significant sacrifice. And while it was initially a difficult transition, I’ve managed just fine. In fact, I now consider it a blessing. As far as other people go, I’m naturally an introvert and prefer to spend a lot of time alone. I’m even less likely to invite people over because my Chihuahuas are not super social, either, and like to guard their property. But, again, this is probably more of a personal preference than a sacrifice. I do have a few good friends who have allergies to cats and cannot come over anymore. I miss being able to invite them over like I used to.

5. Our house isn’t spotless — but so what?

There is no way you can maintain a perfectly spotless house when you provide a home to multiple children and animals and have a full-time career. I do my best, but it’s far from perfect. I’m trying to teach my children responsibility by having them care for our animals, but this is definitely a process. And let’s face it, I’m definitely going to need to replace my carpets sooner than later.

I woke up to this one morning. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

I woke up to this one morning. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

Our animals enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs. They are happy to see us when we come home. There is always someone who wants to curl up in my lap. They provide a sense of purpose. They inspire us to work hard to become better caretakers. And even though there are some sacrifices involved, there are many things we gain in the process. And for that I feel blessed.

What have you given up for your dogs? Let us know in the comments!

Read more by Kezia:

About Kezia Willingham: Kezia lives in Seattle with her children and pack of rescued cats and dogs.  She is regular contributor to Catster and Dogster and has an essay in the soon to be released anthology Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience by Samantha Waltz: https://www.facebook.com/BlendedStories