By: Revanche

Dog Deprivation

December 12, 2010

Frugal Scholar’s rather pragmatic look at Pet Costs triggered my usual, utterly emotional, I want a dog now! reaction.

I really miss my dog back home. I haven’t talked myself into bring her up north because there’s just no room for her to lounge.  She is, after all, accustomed to a certain way of life. And let’s face it, momma’s girl or not, if momma isn’t home, what’s the point of making her live in a relatively cramped inside space?

She’s really not built for living indoors – she gets squirrelly and waits by the door to be let out with ever increasing impatience whenever she’s done visiting inside.  Even though she was raised as an indoor dog, she up and decided quite early on that she was moving into the garage. Up here we’ve got zero yard, and very little outdoor space. It’s hard to imagine her being happy with us in the Bay Area.

In an entirely selfish and practical sense, if we weren’t just thinking about what might make her happy, it still seems like the most sensible thing to do is to bring her up here rather than adding to the family. And that would have the additional benefit of easing my little-spoken-of responsibility of finding my parents a new home as they couldn’t really have moved in to any sort of assisted care facility with a big dog (or two, since idiot sibling is still around with his dog).

That’s another thing for another day.  

The thing is, after owning dogs for 17 years now and having worked with animals for a good part of my twenties, it’s a cold fact that they’re expensive when anything happens. And I never want to be in the position of asking myself: can I afford this medical procedure?  Those decisions should be made based on whether it’s right for my pet, not whether it’ll put us in a poorhouse.  So while it’s enough that I maintain a medical fund for her now, if I ever wanted to adopt another dog, I would seriously consider getting a second job in animal health care for the discount because it’s so freaking expensive.

That or I honestly need to be making quite a lot more money than I do now to afford another pet.

When did I turn into my parents?  I’m almost positive they used this line of reasoning with me when I was seven and it all sounded like gibberish and insanity twenty years ago. 

5 Responses to “Dog Deprivation”

  1. Shelley says:

    I miss not having a dog, too. I’ve not had one for nearly 20 years now. Even though we probably have space and are retired (Bill has 60 work hours to go!), because we don’t know about taking a dog between the UK & the US and we both love travel, it just wouldn’t seem fair to the animal. I think a dog’s life should be heaven and if I can’t make it that, I dont’t want to feel guilty that I’m not.

    That said, in my family we loved our dogs and mourned them when they were gone, but we didn’t have a lot of money and the expenditures that might go to keep a human alive wouldn’t be considered in the case of a dog. No doubt that idea will upset a lot of people, but it was the reality of our life and I would have to think long and hard about my boundaries now before getting a pet. Doesn’t being responsible make life more complicated? (Actually, it makes it simpler, but in a different way).

  2. Sorrrryyyy to make you long for a doggie.

  3. Awww.

    It’s sure true, a dog can cost an arm and a leg. But you know, the big costs are in puppyhood and old age. If you got one that was, say, about three years old, it would be around five years before it started to rack up the bills. By then you’d be earning more money.

    Shelley makes a good point about the traveling: you’ve been en route a lot lately. It’s really a hassle to find someone to care for a dog while you’re out of town — vets and boarding kennels are expensive and then when you get home you have the added expense of having to get them over whatever bug they picked up there.

    However…in The Year of Penury, I stumbled upon something of interest. The way to keep bills down is to STAY AWAY FROM THE VET.

    Minimize the number of immunizations — do some careful research (stay away from crackpot websites for this!) and find out how often your dog really needs to be inoculated and what inoculations it really doesn’t need in your part of the country. If your area has no mosquito problem, don’t give heartworm meds. The fewer trips you make to the vet, as it develops, the fewer things seem to go wrong with the dog. Don’t take the dog in for care unless the dog has symptoms.

    Along those lines…greyhounds are surprisingly healthy (a few have allergies but it’s easy to figure out how to avoid allergens — corn and fish are the biggest offenders). Greys live forever, and they are dedicated couch potatoes.

  4. Revanche says:

    @Shelley: *sigh* I do wonder about the travel aspect because we’d like to travel a bit more and I certainly don’t think we can afford to board the dog. Back home, we always had someone at home or someone nearby who could feed and let the dog out during the trips but our social circle here isn’t wide enough and doesn’t contain enough dogowners for us to trade dogsitting credits.

    @frugalscholar: It’s ok, I was yearning after a dog at least once a week already anyway.

    @Funny: It is true that over the long run, you can get away with not spending a truckload. After a certain age, and depending on exposure to other animals and environment, you can certainly opt out of most of the vaccines out there, etc. It’s just the long term or catastrophic I was thinking of.

    I had one dog who suffered from a heart murmur during my college years and I guarantee I couldn’t have afforded to keep him alive the last two years without that job at the vet. I would have paid well above ten thousand dollars, I think.

  5. Try looking up breed fanciers’ groups. Around here, greyhound lovers band together to offer something like co-op dogsitting. People volunteer to take care of a member’s dog, expecting someone in the group to return the favor when they need it.

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