Time to Downsize? How to Live in a Tiny Home With Fido

Posted by Billy Francis

Tiny homes have revolutionized the way people live. With rising prices and a growing need to escape the constraints of traditional housing, buyers have increasingly found that less is more when it comes to their places of residence. Some of these miniature constructions are smaller than 400 square feet, but they contain everything needed to live comfortably ... even when Fido is part of the family!

We spoke to Tina Orlando, owner of Backcountry Tiny Homes, about her tiny house that she shares with her partner, Luke, and their four dogs: Minnie, Sequoia, Whisper and Cedar. Over the years, the couple has fostered and housed more than 30 dogs, and their doors are always open for more.

Members of the tiny home pack.Photo by Patrick Treadway Photography

Dogs of All Shapes and Sizes

“Living tiny with dogs isn't impossible, but it does take intentional action and an understanding of what your pets need,” said Tina.

“We have had everything from miniature breeds to giant breeds; disabled to able-bodied pups; dogs with behavioral problems to those who are well socialized; puppies to seniors, and everything else in between! I also build tiny homes that cater to pets, and our (four) dogs come to our build shop with us every single day. Heck, they even help us build tiny homes by retrieving tools and hardware for us during construction.”

Cheap and Cheerful

Although they now live in a tiny foundation home while they build their next dream tiny house, their first foray into the tiny world was located in Mt. Hood, Oregon on a 40-acre farm complete with hiking trails for their dogs to enjoy. The home was fully off grid and utilized solar, composting, propane and rainwater harvesting. The costs aren’t as astronomical as you might expect. In fact, they’re quite the opposite.

“In total, we spent $22,000 to build our home, which included a rather large solar system and rainwater collection unit,” said Tina.

“At the end of the day, filters, taxes and land rental costs $250 per month. We still paid off the home in just 24 months.”

A Dog-Friendly Design

One of the beauties of moving into a tiny home is the customizing. You don’t have to be a millionaire to design your home exactly to your desired specifications. Tina and Luke ranked their pups’ needs highest on the agenda while planning their mini mansion.

“The dogs were and have always been our biggest priorities. We made extra-wide turning spaces for the bigger dogs, a wheelchair storage area for Maya, a walk-in shower for easy dog showers, fold-down dog dishes, hidden toy storage, custom crate spaces that provided safe areas for each dog, and more. Most importantly, we made sure that our pups didn't lose space just because we were choosing to live smaller,” said Tina.

“Don’t cramp our style.”Photo by Facebook.com/BackcountryTinyHomes

Cramped or Cuddly?

While Tina admits that the living space can be cramped at times, she feels the positives outweigh the negatives.

“The [dogs] don't spread out just because there is more square footage. So, making the home smaller didn't really make it more cramped for us. We consciously made the decision to rent farm land to ensure we had enough outdoor space and give them proper exercise so that once we are inside, they are looking to relax and grab a power nap on the couch.”

The tiny home interior.Photo by Patrick Treadway Photography

Tina is the owner of Backcountry Tiny Homes. Based in Vancouver, WA, Backcountry designs and builds tiny homes on wheels, specializing in pet-friendly and off-grid designs. For more information, you can reach her at tina@backcountrytinyhomes.com.

Before you adopt this lifestyle, get a taste for it with a stay at one of these tiny pet-friendly vacation rentals.

Fireside Resort

Wilson, WY
Whatever the weather, living tiny is better. Photo by Facebook.com/FiresideResort

The Fireside Resort in Wilson is a fine place to start your tour of tiny homes. The cabins are beautifully designed, featuring large windows and doors that allow light to flood in during the day. Nearby Jackson, WY is also worth exploring with your pup. The city’s colorful Town Square features arches made of shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge, where dogs are allowed on the main refuge road. From mid-December through early April, you and your pooch can also view a herd of local elk grazing in their winter habitat.

Caravan, The Tiny House Hotel

Portland, OR
Mi tiny casa es su tiny casa. Photo by Tiny House Hotel

No city could lay claim to the moniker of Tiny Home Mecca as much as Portland, OR. One of the most unique properties in the city is Caravan, the Tiny House Hotel. This vacation rental allows travelers and their dogs to experience life in a custom-made tiny home on wheels. The miniature rentals are cute and comfortable, equipped with beds, small bathrooms and a seating area. Caravan is located in Portland’s funky Alberta Arts District and is just a few blocks away from the pet-friendly Tin Shed Garden Cafe.

Blue Moon Rising

McHenry, MD
“At least my tea’s not tiny!” Photo by Facebook.com/visitdeepcreeklake

Located near Deep Creek Lake, Blue Moon Rising is home to 14 pet-friendly cabins that were built using primarily reclaimed materials. Founder Lisa M. Jan wanted to offer vacation rentals that promote the preservation of the planet, showing how we can all tread more lightly and leave smaller footprints. Outside, Fido can leave his pawprints on the many trails throughout the 116-acre plot of land. The tiny retreat is also close to the pet-friendly Black Bear Tavern and Restaurant, which serves up bitesized burgers to canine customers.

Sand Pebble Cottage

Dennis Port, MA
Flying the flag for tiny homes everywhere! Photo by Sand Pebble Cottage

Patriotic beach bums will love Sand Pebble Cottage near the Massachusetts shoreline. The owner, Aruna, will provide you with an insider’s guide to the area to make the most of your trip. Bring Fido on a walk to the beach and village just half a mile away, and enjoy the fresh catch from Swan River Seafood, which offers beautiful views from the balcony.

What do you think of tiny house living? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Backcountry Tiny Homes.