Multiple Pet Mania and some recent comments on my posts inspired me to write about this…what is the right number of pets? Obviously the answer is different for everyone, so I will just share my experience and point of view. Since three of our four pets are seniors, it’s something I can’t help thinking about a lot.
Other than times (many years ago) when we had kittens in the house, the most pets we have had is 8, four dogs and four cats. It was never anything we planned. We had two cats, and one was getting older so we wanted to be sure the younger one wasn’t left alone. We went to choose a kitten from a litter, and came home with two. Not long after that, the same thing happened with dogs. When our Lab mix Maggie died, Kobi was devastated and couldn’t be left alone. We found another beagle as quickly as we could, but I wanted a big dog too. We had already chosen our golden retriever puppy (we wanted the largest female), but when visiting them one time, we ended up deciding to get two.
It wasn’t too long after that when our older cat died, and we were a 7 pet household for quite a few years. People thought we were crazy but at the time it worked for us. However, it’s not something I would choose to do again. It’s not the vet bills, the expense of food, or the challenges of housecleaning, grooming, and training. For me it’s just the fact that I never felt like I had enough time for each individual pet. They have all still had good lives with us, but I just always wished I could give each one more attention.
Through more losses over the years, we are now only a 4 pet household, 3 dogs and 1 cat. Where do we go from here? I don’t think we could have too many cats…I find cats easy to care for, but again I feel like with so many dogs in the house, poor Samantha doesn’t get as much attention as she should. For that reason, we’ve decided for right now not to get any more cats. Sam is a loner, and likes the dogs fine, so we don’t feel that she is longing for feline companionship. I have to say though that it seems odd only having one cat, and I’m not sure how I will feel about having none. Hopefully I won’t have to know for a long while, but Sam does have her health issues.
The dogs are another story, and it’s much more difficult to figure out what the right number would be. If I wanted another dog right now, my hubby would say yes immediately. I have to keep telling him we don’t need another. When we lost our golden Moses, I was content with three dogs, but with our beagle Kobi aging it did turn out to be the right decision to adopt Luke. But there are difficulties with the odd number of three. I’ll break down my thoughts on different numbers from 1 – 4 (if you have more than four, bless you, I could just never do it).
- Our first two dogs were single dogs. They can get all the attention and all the love and they can easily go places with you. The two biggest cons I see are a) Leaving them home alone while you work or go other places; and b) the devastating emptiness of your house when they pass on. When we lost our first dog Shelby, I was not a person who could get another dog immediately, but the house was so different without a dog. She was my very first dog ever, and I was hooked after having her. But I needed time before getting another.
- We got Maggie after about 6 months, and she was a single dog for her first year. When the opportunity came up to adopt Kobi, we thought it would be a great idea for her to have company. Having two dogs was great…it’s still not too many to take everywhere with you. We camped, hiked, and boated and those were some of the best times I can remember. But when you have two dogs, and lose one, it can be devastating to the one left behind. When Maggie died in a tragic accident, we had to get help with Kobi until we could get another dog. We could not leave him home alone.
- Three is a pretty good number. If you lose one, the others won’t be left alone. The biggest downfall I see is that I can’t take two dogs to do something together without feeling guilty about leaving the third home alone. It’s OK if my hubby is home, but he has told me that often that dog is not very happy while I’m gone with the other two. I know plenty of people do it, but for me handling three out and about can be a bit too much. There is also the issue that one dog often gets left out of playing. When Luke was a puppy, he and Cricket played all the time, and Sheba was left out. Once he got bigger, he and Cricket played less and less together and he and Sheba play more. I always feel bad for the one that is left out.
- Four is good in that now you can take two and leave two, which seems a little better. But taking all four was nearly impossible for me, so when we had four we mostly stayed home. We stopped camping, hiking, and boating. There were other reasons we stopped those things too but it was mostly because of four dogs. Since three of those dogs were puppies at the same time (no, I would never do that again either), there wasn’t a lot of training going on. It was far easier to play with them at home than to try to get four dogs out and about for exercise, even individually. I always walked Kobi because he didn’t play fetch, but the others rarely got walked. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to walk them all individually.
I miss the days of taking dogs everywhere with me, and that’s why I sometimes consider going back to only two (not that I want to think about that day coming). I’d like to get back into hiking and maybe even camping (most campgrounds won’t allow more than two dogs, which was one of the reasons we stopped camping). We stick close to home now because I don’t want to travel away from the pets. My hubby is happy staying home with our whole crew, so he’d be happy to get more.
I think a lot of the reasons for having whatever number of dogs or cats you have all depends on at what you are looking to do with them, what point you are at in your life, or the needs of your current pets. There is no doubt about it, we love having multiple pets, and I doubt that only having one will ever be a choice we would make. One thing is for sure…I may think I have the answer figured out, and next thing you know I’m visiting a litter of puppies or kittens, and two might come home instead of one!
Have you found the right number of pets that works for you?
All of this month is Multiple Pet Mania! Be sure to enter this week’s giveaway of treats from Merrick Pet Care (click here to enter). For all the details on the happenings for the month – blog hop, reviews, giveaways, and photo contest ($150 in prizes available!), click here. Also, please be sure to fill out our Life with Multiple Pets Survey.