By: Stella Katsipoutis
When I think of my childhood, I don’t necessarily think of myself as being an annoying kid. But, from the very day I began to talk, there was one thing I used to do that I’m sure bugged my parents at least a little: I would constantly beg for a family dog. I cried, I pleaded, I bargained—but nothing worked. There was that one time I thought I finally had my parents convinced: We were in the supermarket, and I was tugging at my dad’s shirt, loudly running off a list of reasons why I deserved a puppy. He looked at me in exasperation and said, “Okay, I’ll get you a dog.” As soon as we got home, I used a crayon and a sheet of construction paper to draft up a “contract” binding my father to his word. He, of course, refused to sign it, because deep down we both knew he only said yes so I could be quiet and let him shop in peace. At that moment, I vowed that the first thing I would buy when I moved out of my parents’ house—even before I bought furniture—would be a dog. And that’s almost exactly what happened. (Turns out I had to buy a couch and some chairs first, and I had to convince my husband to get a dog, too.)
What my young eyes couldn’t see was that my father worked almost 15 hours a day just so our family could get by, and getting a dog that required a lot of time and money wasn’t exactly an ideal setup for our family. I didn’t understand my parents’ reasoning back then. But now that I’m an adult with a job, a house and two Shiba Inus of my own, it all makes sense. I had no clue what the real cost of owning a dog was, and nowhere did it factor into my desire to have a pet. The truth is that dogs—and any pets, for that matter—are expensive to raise. And, like me, many people tend to overlook the finances and dive into the world of pet ownership without giving it a second thought.
You see, the cost of having a dog doesn’t end with the small adoption fee or the hefty breeder price tag. It goes way beyond that. While I probably sound just like my parents when I say this, it still rings true: As cute and irresistible as puppies are, they are a huge financial commitment. And if you don’t have the finances to keep up with that commitment for about 15 years, but decide to make it anyway, then you’re only doing a disservice to yourself and your dog.
So how much money are we talking here? If you’ve got that itch to buy a new puppy but are unsure if you can afford it, here are some numbers to chew on, courtesy of PetFinder:
As you can see, the dollar signs pile up rather quickly, so it’s definitely in your best interests to take a long, hard look at your budget before you make any big decisions.
Don’t get me wrong; while my dogs can be pricey to take care of, I don’t for one second regret bringing them into my family. They are my best friends, and being a dog owner is every bit as fulfilling as I imagined it would be. The point here is that—just as you would do before you, say, have a baby—it’s important to weigh all the factors that are involved in your decision to buy a pet, including the financial ones.
If you’re like me and your heart is set on taking a fur-baby home, no matter what the cost, there are plenty of ways you can save money and lessen the sting of pet-related expenses. Here are some tricks I use to keep my puppy budget on track:
Now it’s your turn to share with us: If you’re thinking of buying a dog, what do you think is the most surprising expense associated with being a pet owner? If you already have a dog, what are some tricks you use to save money? Drop us a line in the comments section below!
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