When my older son was getting ready to go to college, I decided I needed a distraction for my 9 year old who would be left alone (suuuure it was for him wink-wink). My husband was dead-set against getting a pet because he knew he’d end up being the one to take care of it (he can’t help but spoil – in a good way- anyone he loves). But it was 3 to 1, so I went with the kids to look at dogs in pet stores just so we knew what breed we wanted. It had to not shed and be very small (my older son was attacked by a dog when he was younger and is skittish, plus ewww, big poops to pick up).
We were planning to go on pet finder to look around the state in shelters for the breed-mixes we wanted after looking around. But then we met Lucy in the pet store. She was the only puppy that day who just snuggled into our arms and licked our faces. SOLD. There was no way we were leaving without her. It was the best decision ever, and Lucy has filled a little part of what her big brother left behind.
5 years later (last year) I got a divorce. My husband moved out and my younger son was obsessed with a friend’s cat. I had a cat when I met my ex and he hated the shedding and freaked anytime I mentioned getting a cat, but my husband was gone, I wanted him to stay gone, and we wanted a cat! Out with my husband, in with Sgt. Pepper, the most awesome tuxedo cat. BEST TRADE EVER. (But honestly, Pepper is a traitor, because he and my ex love each other anyway.)
Pets can be a great new thing to focus on when you are losing such a huge part of your life, like a family member moving away. But having an empty nest or a divorce also means you won’t have the help training and caring for the animal. You won’t be able to take off and visit the kids on a whim because you have animals to take care of. And pets cost almost as much as kids. You are taking on another 10-20 year commitment when this is the time to go out and LIVE.
And if you decide to replace those college-aged kids with pets, don’t try window shopping at pet stores! Adopt, don’t shop. You won’t be able to walk away.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of Empty Nest Pets:
- Something to take care of.
- Someone loyal and loving to greet you at the door.
- Someone to talk to.
- They can get you out of the house more, walking them, going to the vet.
- They will change your routines.
- Unconditional love.
- Constant companionship.
- Can offer protection.
- Pets are expensive.
- Pets are messy.
- Pets need a lot of attention.
- Training a puppy is harder than you’ll ever imagine.
- You can’t be spontaneous and decide to just go away overnight or even for a whole day.
- Pets are a long-term commitment.
If you really miss the bickering siblings, adopt a cat and a dog like I did!
Whatever decision you make, do your research. Decide if you want big or small, cat or dog, puppy or trained. Then search the shelters for what you want before you even go.
I’m sure I will be at the shelters in another 3 years when my last baby leaves home!
What do you think, when you’ve finally gotten rid of the kids, is this a time for furry ones? Let me know below!