DEAR HELOISE: My husband always said we'd move into a local retirement community when our home becomes too much for us. Well, that time has come, but there is a problem. We have four small dogs, whom we love very much. They are spayed and neutered, and all have their shots.
We had one child who died in his childhood and were never able to have another, so our little dogs are a valuable part of our lives. Could we part with them? No. Sadly, most retirement communities don't allow pets, or if they do -- and that's rare -- they only allow two.
I will not part with any of my dogs. When one of them dies, I cry like a baby. Our dogs usually live a long time -- and our four dogs are fairly young (the offspring of our former dogs) -- so I imagine they'll be with us for years to come.
We've considered one of these tiny houses we hear so much about, but that still leaves us with yard work. Plus, most tiny houses are a bit too tiny for us and our dogs.
Retirement communities ask us to give up so much, and I would willingly part with much of what I own, but never my sweet dogs. We're at a crossroads in our lives, but whatever we end up doing, we're keeping our dogs.
-- Joe and Jean,
DEAR JOE & JEAN: Don't give up -- keep looking! There are retirement communities that are changing their rules all the time.
There are also tiny house communities in many states now, and more and more people are flocking to these areas. Tiny houses can be anywhere from 250 square feet to a little over 600 square feet. Some only have one level, so there's no ladder to climb up to get to your bedroom.
DEAR READERS: Are you downsizing, getting rid of clutter or planning to move somewhere else? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you're going through your rooms:
Do I really need this item, or is it just collecting dust?
Is it useful, or am I just sentimental about it?
Why am I keeping so many T-shirts, pairs of socks, shoes, collectibles, jeans, sets of dishes, holiday ornaments, books, etc.?
What do I use daily, and what gets used once a year, if ever?
Is there someone else in the family who would like to have this item and can use it more often?
Can I live without this thing? Does it make me happy?
Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email