October 30, 2012

How Much is That Doggy (or Cat) in the Window?

Many of you who know me personally have by now had a chance to meet Lucy. My wife and I could not be happier with our miniature dachshund we rescued a little over a year ago and the joy she has brought to our home. At times she is childlike, at times she is a full-fledged friend, at times she is a loyal companion, and she’s always a mess…

There was the time when she ate a Plink as I was rearranging things under the sink, and she started belching up lemon-scented bubbles. That was hilarious only after I had her treated at the emergency vet and convinced my wife not to kill me. For the record, Lucy had great puppy breath for almost a month.

There was also the time that Lucy learned what an ant hill was as she chased some sort of beetle in the grass straight into the mother of all anthills. She owes me a lot of itching and a tube of ointment, but I didn’t think twice about rescuing her from the divisions of ants that were none too pleased by her intrusion. I’d do it again if I had to!

There was also that time when Lucy jumped off the ground onto the sofa and then onto the coffee table because she undoubtedly wanted a glass of eggnog. Little did she know that she would get several glasses and a pitcher’s worth in the process as she slid off the slick table. I was irate as I cleaned things up. Everything looked pristine, and I was finally headed towards my milky, nutmeg-covered pup when she looked me dead in the eye and decided to shake her coat clean herself. I couldn’t help but laugh as I was back at step one of the cleanup process.

Why do I tell you all these stories? Two reasons, really. One, I love Lucy and all the fun she provides. Two, owning a pet can be expensive, and I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how you can experience the joys of owning a pet without crying cats and dogs!
  • Consider adopting a pet. Adoption fees are often much less than what you would pay a breeder.
  • Consider the pet’s size. Most small animals eat less food than their larger counterparts. Less food means less expense. Enough said!
  • Don’t go treat or toy crazy. Sure it’s fun to hold out a piece of pig ear, a cheese and bacon flavored ice cream, or a squeaky toy that resembles your rival team’s mascot and see your pet’s excitement, but treats are an additional expense and most of the time are not the healthiest thing in the world for your pet. Remember that undivided attention, back-scratching, and head-patting can get you a long way with your pet (and maybe even your husband come to think of it), and they are free!
  • Think about your upcoming trips. It doesn’t take many nights of boarding a pet before your 5-star hotel will need to become a 3-star hotel in order to make ends meet. If you have a pet, think about day trips, or trips you can take your pet on with you, to avoid this expense. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to find a trustworthy friend or relative who will periodically be happy to pet-sit for you.
  • Do not try to skimp on health care. Get your pets their vaccinations, buy them quality food, and get them the medicine they need when they are sick. A few dollars saved every month on less than desirable care can go up in smoke quickly with a serious illness or infection.
  • Consider passing on pet insurance. I know people who swear by pet insurance and people who swear at pet insurance. All I will say is consider the premiums, consider the deductibles, and read the details about what sicknesses and conditions are covered before you reach a conclusion. If you make me choose, I say pass on pet insurance if you have saved up a decent-sized rainy day fund because you are somewhat self-insured. This strategy allows you to decide what is in your pet’s best interest and your financial interest when you actually have to, as opposed to throwing a little into the pet insurance pot every month wondering if you or your pet will ever need it. To be honest with you, when I look at Lucy’s unexpected medical costs versus the pet insurance premiums I would have paid, it looks about even so far.

I hope this gives you some things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a pet owner or even if you already have a dog or a cat of your own. I’d like to write more, but I just heard a crash and a bark. There is simply no telling…


1 comment:

  1. Another benefit to small pets is that you can groom (bathe, nails, teeth, etc.) them yourself. Those things can run up a bill, too! But, I must say, we do love our lab as much as our doxie no matter what the cost!