Greyhound rainbow bridge

How we Turned a Huge Loss into a Gain

There’s something about certain breeds of pets that hook people. Some people want playful Labs, some want needy lap dogs, others want rough-n-tough Sheppards or Rottweilers, and some people are cat people. I initially fell into the first group of wanting a Lab. Chocolate to be exact. And then one day my mother in law told us about adopting retired racing greyhounds.

Drooling Greyhound
No, honest, we’re cute dogs too!

We researched the breed and former racers, and I have to admit, at first sight I thought they were pretty ugly dogs with Flintstone-like feet. But the more I learned about them the more intrigued I became, and soon enough we adopted OHow She Shines (Shine), a four year old brindle female that ran 90+ races.

Several years later, in October 2012, we had to put our 12 year old hound down. As any dog owner can tell you, it’s one of the worst days of your life. The days that followed were sad, but eventually the pain wore off. We entertained the idea of getting another hound but opted not to. Having a dog does tie you down, somewhat. You need to be home by X o’clock to feed/let them out. And while our greyhound, Shine, was a Therapy Dog and we were legally allowed to bring her anywhere, that’s not always feasible or accepted.

Greyhound in the spotlight
The sun shining on our greyhound, Shine.

We decided to focus on turning our loss into a gain

So after our years of dog ownership, we decided to do a bit more traveling. Panama beckoned, so did some weekends away; a Florida trip, a border hop to Buffalo, a few nights in cottage country.

But what really happened is it kick-started a minimalist movement in us. I’ll admit it, we fell into the same trap others do. You buy a big house and fill it with…STUFF! Or you buy a bunch of stuff that’s supposed to make you happy (but will probably land you in debt). And sure, for a short while it probably does make you happy. Perhaps you go on a trip somewhere and come back with trinkets and chochkies and stuff you don’t need.

We had a raised bungalow back in Canada for the two of us. The basement was finished and while we used it for working out and watching TV, we didn’t really need the entire basement. We easily could have fit everything we NEEDED on the first floor, and even that was a lot of space.

Our selling adventure started with a yard sale, selling things we realized we just didn’t use, hence, we didn’t NEED.
My dartboard that got little to no use…SOLD
Tools I bought because I needed them once…SOLD
7 foot Christmas tree that we didn’t even have enough decorations for…DONATED TO FAMILY

The funniest part was as we started selling stuff we wanted to sell MORE stuff! Our house had too much stuff. We had too much stuff. So we sold it all.

After all our selling was done we made $10,000. This allowed us to live in Panama for an entire year. Our love for pets allowed us to become house/pet sitters, which allowed us to save money on accommodation. And yet another thing it allowed us to do; travel and experience more. As you can see, that’s a lot of allowing.

With the loss of our pet’s life, we ourselves gained more life.

We may someday find ourselves attached to another greyhound, but we won’t find ourselves attached to more stuff.

Now go sell all your stuff!



31 thoughts on “How we Turned a Huge Loss into a Gain”

  1. A sad time but also good realizations to have in terms of freeing yourself up to travel and experience more. Don’t know what I will do when our giant Doberman (who we travel with) passes. It is def more difficult traveling with a dog, but we have found airbnb to be a great place to find pet friendly places. We have stayed in several different places with him and has been smooth sailing.

    1. Aaron, that’s awesome you travel with your Dobie, such a nice breed! Our hound was a terrible traveler, I guess she was a home-body. Airbnb definitely helps, as does house sitting. And now that we too are house sitters we get to enjoy pets once again!

  2. It is so sad losing a pet. They bring so much to our lives. But like you, we haven’t taken on another dog. And this year (nothing to do with losing the dog) we have packed up our house, which included selling, donating and giving away much of our stuff and we have moved to Cambodia for a year. We have a fully furnished apartment and we have not accumulated much more than the two bags we arrived with in the six months we have been here. We don’t really miss the stuff. But we have gained so much from being here.

  3. You had me at Greyhounds! I adore this breed,so gentle and so incredibly lazy. My friend who has owned them for years calls them, ‘Pooks’, because of their long noses. I am so glad it was the catalyst for you to go and change everything. They say that to attract new things into your life, you need to declutter and get rid of everything. That’s me told…

  4. Way to turn around an unfortunate circumstance into a productive one! I definitely need to get rid of a lot of stuff in my house, but going about selling it often seems overwhelming. Great post, you’ve inspired me.

    1. Glad we were able to provide you with some inspiration. If you subscribe to our newsletter we will provide you with free worksheets and checklists to help you with your minimalist journey. And our Sell All Your Stuff…books have a few chapters on how to go about easily selling all your stuff!

  5. We’re in the same boat in terms of not wanting pets to tie us down. But, we decided that we always want pets in our life. So our solution is to have super tiny dogs. We have a little chihuahua (as in, little even for a chihuahua) and a downright tiny min pin (the smallest one we’ve ever seen), both rescues, and they can travel everywhere with us. They get smuggled into hotels, they come on long road trips, and we expect they’ll be able to snuggle with us in our small travel trailer when we eventually hit the road. And my dad, who lives nearby, loves watching them when we need to go somewhere by air. This is the solution that works for us. But I can see why you’d want to be dogless to be able to do extended international travel. Maybe one day we’ll be there, but for now we love our little guys. 🙂

    1. “They get smuggled into hotels”, haha, good for you! We used to do this with our dogs when I was a child. It’s nice to have someone that will look after your dogs too. House/pet sitting does allow us to enjoy other people’s pets too though 🙂

  6. It is very hard to lose a pet. We had 3 boxers prior to having kids. Our last boxer baby passed when our youngest was about 8 months old. We were devastated. However, we are not yet ready for a new animal as it would slow down our travel abilities. We don’t have to worry about a pet sitter (although you would probably be a great choice!)

    We’re with you, someday maybe – but not now.

  7. I admire people who just sell everything and move, we have friends like this here in Australia. They sell all and just move to another area every year or so it seems. Not for me i am not like that. We love our pet rabbit and guinea pig.

  8. And perhaps finding a new small friend to travel with you is an option. There’s some research: what breeds travel best! …but that would indeed limit house sitting options…

    1. We have thought about a small friend, but like you say it does limit house sitting options, thought some people do sit with their pets. For now we are fine to love our temporary friends.

  9. Selling stuff IS completely addictive. I first caught the bug when we were a military family. Since embracing the nomadic life as civilians we’ve sold everything twice.

  10. I understand very well both the loss of the pet and the sense of renewal and liberation when you manage to have a new start and get rid of things. I have never done a clearing out as extensive as yours but periodically go through phases of selling things and it’s totally addictive! Now when my husband can’t find something the first question asked it: you haven’t sold it…. or have you??

  11. When we left England last year, we had to give up our dog max, a border collie mix 🙁 but he is now happy with another family, good friends of ours. Now that we are on the move a lot, we definitely don’t want to get another dog (for now) but it’s always tempting as all four of us love having a pet! Selling the stuff part was not too bad, we had mostly hand me down second hand furniture, clothes, etc. I do find it hard to part with my books!

    1. Books were super hard for me too! Sorry you had to leave Max behind, friends of ours have to do the same with their beloved dog. If you haven’t tried house sitting yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to enjoy pets again.

  12. That was quite hard but am glad you moved on and that too, so well! Yes, turning a loss into a gain is what most of us have to learn.

  13. I’m so glad to finally read how you got your start with the pet sitting and such. Very sad about your pet, that is what keeps me from traveling all the time, my love for being with our dog. Sweet that you saved a life and that Shine brought so much joy to your life. I am a sap for pets, love them all, so that is what brought me (us) to Amigos de Animales in Panama, plus I have my “dog away from home” neighbors dogs that visit frequently. Blessing my friends, keep on enjoying life and seeing the world.

    1. It’s always nice to understand someone’s back story. Awesome, that you work with Amigos de Animales, I worked with the Animal Advocates in Pedasi. I really enjoyed volunteering at the clinics and helping to raise awareness of the benefits of spay/neutering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *