If you’ve been following my previous posts, you know that my two dogs, known as the Messrs on social media, are my sun and moon. Although I live sans home-mate by choice, it’s also a little out of necessity because the Messrs would most likely be considered canes non gratae by potential home-mates. But that’s my case. What if you find yourself finding the perfect home with a very like-able home-mate and there are pets who are thrown into the mix?
Let’s assume, all the must-haves are there ranging from shared interests to the practical elements and responsibilities of sharing a home. You have animals and the potential housemate likes animals. Sounds ideal, right? It could be, your housemate might love the benefits of being around an cat or dog but not being fully responsible. However you do need to be mindful and remember to ask about pets when finding a good housemate.
Boundaries and Pets
Does this potential housemate respect your boundaries in caring for your pet? In my last shared home experience, my home-mate never respected the boundaries I set for the dogs. For example, I needed to constantly remind him that he was not to feed them from the table while he was eating dinner or give them treats that included ice cream and other sweets that could be potentially dangerous to their health. Not only was he crossing a boundary with me, he was also undoing my hard work in teaching the Messrs manners and maybe endangering their health.
And then there’s the dogs’ boundaries to consider. I dated a man who thought it was funny to tickle the dog, it was more like poking, while he slept. Of course, when the dog bit him and drew blood, it was no longer funny. Dogs, like humans, don’t want to be pestered while they’re napping. Humans might yell after you disturb them, but dogs are startled if they’re woken from a deep slumber and may bite in self-defense. The rule of thumb (if you want to keep that thumb) is to leave the dog alone while he sleeps.
Treat with Kindness and Respect
If you intend to share a home with someone with animals, the logical step is to meet the animal(s) and decide if it’s a good fit. You should ask about routines and discipline. If you are hoping your new housemate will feed your cat if you go away for a weekend, you should ask upfront if that’s an option. If you are both bringing pets to the household consider carefully how you will introduce them to each other. (There is a chapter on Pets in Sharing Housing, A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates.) Your pets are always going to be your responsibility. From home-mates you can make one special request: to treat your pets with kindness and respect, after all they are the sun and the moon.
Read more about living with housemate pets: Sharing Housing with Pets and finding compatible housemates and building a good shared home: Trust Your Gut When Interviewing A Housemate , Are the Golden Girls Home-Mates?