Pets of the Millennial
Part 1: Managing transportation and living spaces
If you, like me, were born between 1981–1996 (or a few years here and there, as per some sources), you are a millennial. You’re probably described as a unique species of humans with (as the stereotype goes) a simultaneous lack of earnings and love for avocados and pets. Whether or not you agree on the avocado bit, it is abundantly clear that millennials dote on their pets. In a world that’s so fickle and often unkind, pets offer us some stability. For a millennial, the traditional method of ‘settling down’ (like our parents’ generation) is not always feasible, nor is it affordable.
Raising a dog in such a situation can be quite a task, especially since dogs love routine. I, like most millennials, don’t have a car, a house or a fixed source of income (I freelance but do not seem to be morphing into a good fit for the corporate world, so it seems unlikely in the future too). Here are a few ways in which I’ve navigated the lack/ absence of resources — mode of transportation, own house, and steady flow of money — to avoid cutting corners in my dogs’ care:
I’ve raised and taken care of dogs over the past four years while living by myself without a car. Here are some options I know and some that I’ve used:
- Pet taxis:
With more people choosing to become pet parents, pet taxis are, thankfully, becoming common. These are a good choice for those who do not have a car/ don’t drive but require air conditioning and a closed vehicle for their dogs. This is also a good option for dogs that cannot fit comfortably in an auto/e-rickshaw. You can try your luck with a cab service provider, but the ball is entirely in the driver’s court. If the driver says no, that’s it.
Pet taxis allow you to travel comfortably with your dog without worrying about whether or not your request for travelling with a pet will be entertained. They do, however, cost more than your regular cab, require scheduling in advance, and aren’t available everywhere.
While I have used some pet taxi services, I figured this wasn’t the best option for me. Instead, I use the following option
- Fix an auto and a couple of backups:
Both in Noida and Bangalore, I have relied on autos for the majority of my travel with my dog(s). It takes a bit of exploration but your chances of finding an auto/ e-rickshaw that will take your pet without hesitation are much higher, even in cities where pet taxis aren’t available.
If an auto/e-rickshaw (or cab) driver agrees to transport your dog, ask them if they will be open to doing so again. If so, you can request their number. They may charge you a bit more than the regular fare, but who doesn’t? Any service transporting pets charges a cleaning amount and usually has higher fares. Collect a few numbers so that you have a backup.
A little consideration goes a long way in building a relationship with the person ferrying you. If you’re travelling with a sick dog or one that cannot hold their bladder, carry absorbent pads to spread over the seat and always carry a bed sheet so that their hair doesn’t go everywhere. Don’t haggle over fares, and be polite to your auto/ cab driver (I mean, this is common courtesy even without a dog).
- Car rentals:
I have not used this option for vet visits but have used it once for a trip I took with my dogs and some friends. These companies are very particular about dog hair and will fine you for it, so you may have to invest in a vacuum cleaner when you rent a car.
- Friends and family:
As a last resort, I reach out to friends and family. If you cannot arrange a go-to auto/cab driver, let someone among your car-owning friends and family know that you’ll reach out to them for emergencies. It is also good if you have a neighbour you can rely on, especially for emergencies, since seeking help will be quicker. Never take this option for granted. Remember to send them a thank you treat or present.
Of course, don’t forget to carry sheets and ensure you do not make a mess in the car. If you use a car often (rented/ friend’s/cab), invest in a car hammock for your dog.
- Other options:
If none of the above options is feasible (maybe you’ve moved to a new city with no friends or family locally), keep a few home-visiting vets’ numbers handy, and find out which ones can come home for emergency care. See if any vets in the city provide paid non-emergency transportation, and find the nearest vet who has an ambulance/ emergency service.
If you absolutely cannot find any of these, revisit the idea of bringing home a dog/ moving.
Managing Living Spaces:
With property rates increasing + the hassle of managing a property not being everyone’s cup of tea, many millennials are deterred from buying a house, at least one where they will live permanently. Even if you’ve purchased a place, work may take you to another city, where you may have to rent. For a short while (say, you’re travelling or moving), you can board your dog with friends/family or at a dog boarding. However, if you don’t own a house, renting is the only long-term option. Here are a few tips if you plan to live with your dog in rented accommodation:
- Check, double-check and triple-check with the house owner AND the society RWA before finalising a house. I cannot stress enough on this. You may have to be a pain in someone’s ass for a few days, clarifying the same things repeatedly, but you need to do this. Ensure you get their approval via DM/ email, so you have proof of it, in case things go sideways later.
Side note: ALWAYS choose your dog over the apartment. If you’re moving, you continue to take responsibility for your dog while making alternate arrangements. Dogs are abandoned so frequently because the parents are moving (often locally). Don’t be that jerk.
- You may think that the lessor will be okay with non-vegetarian food being cooked in the house if they’re okay with dogs living there, but this may not always be true. Clarify this before putting down a deposit. Don’t try to be sneaky and go behind their back. It’s one thing to order non-vegetarian takeout, but have you seen the kind of species-appropriate stuff available out there? It’s all great for your dog, but if it’s not packed like contraband, it looks evidently non-vegetarian. Sometimes, word can get back to the lessor, leading to issues for you. While, like me, you too may not see the point of asking for only vegetarian tenants, save yourself the hassle of sneaking around by clarifying this at the beginning.
- Acquaint yourself with Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) guidelines for apartments/societies/RWAs regarding pet dogs and local policies, rules and laws for pet parents. In a fix, you should have these on hand for reference. These guidelines list out what RWAs can and cannot do with respect to pet and street dogs and provide guidelines for responsible pet ownership for pet parents living in apartment complexes/ housing societies.
- Find out the society/ neighbourhood’s rules about dogs, especially for poop and pee, and using common areas and lifts (banning the use of lifts is against AWBI guidelines, but this can be difficult to fight, especially as a tenant). You may have a dog that might not be able to hold their bladder for too long or one that poops at the most random of places. While it is common courtesy to pick up after your dog, it’s good to know where you can dispose of the poop and if your dog is not allowed in certain areas. Some societies make it mandatory for dog owners to carry a water bottle and splash some water over their dog’s pee.
- If you have the option, find a society/ area that has spaces catering to pets. This can be a dog area in a gated society or a park in a neighbourhood (some places allow dogs inside on specific days of the week). Ensure you keep your dog leashed; your walks will become easier.
- When looking for a new place, talk to the security staff, neighbours, and people in the area (especially if the prospective house is not in a gated community), and find out how ‘tolerant’ or ‘welcoming’ the neighbourhood is of dogs.
I live in a lovely apartment which is pet-friendly, but I walk my dog on the road since the society is not large enough for a dog-specific area. Unfortunately, someone influential in this area has an issue with dog parents and their dogs, so walks are short and filled with anxiety. If we move, it will primarily be because of this.
- Use renter-friendly equipment for your dogs. From hooks to baby gates/partitions, you can find an assortment of renter-friendly products that will help you avoid drilling or constructing things in your house. Be mindful of damage to any furniture/appliance that belongs to your home-owner, especially if your dog is teething or is not toilet-trained.
- Dogs bark. It’s a fact that even the quietest ones bark, and it is a natural and typical behaviour. Establish a reasonable expectation among your neighbours regarding this, so that you do not stress out when your dog starts barking. Excessive barking can be a sign of an issue — physical, mental or behavioural — and should be worked upon (it is STILL not the dog’s fault, though). While you should be mindful of your dog’s barking, especially at night, remember that your society/ housing complex cannot ban pet dogs by stating barking as a reason.
These tips are from a personal perspective and may not be applicable to all dog parents. If you have your own tips and tricks that you’d like to share, please comment with them! We’ll cover managing and saving money for your dogs in part two of this topic.