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Having A Dog & The Financial Responsibility

Back in April 2021, my fiance (Paulo) and I decided to get a puppy. Neither one of us ever had a puppy. Paulo grew up in the Philippines where dogs are everywhere on the islands, but getting a puppy is a whole other ball game. Just like human babies, they are adorable and everywhere you go everyone goes "awww," but deep down they are little monsters that eat up your time and money. This is not to say that I don't love my dog (Molly). I would do anything to keep her healthy, safe, and loved, but those first few months of having her I was tired, burnt out, and cried...A LOT. Here are the things that nobody tells you when you want to get a puppy:

  1. They are expensive as hell! On average per month, we spend about $500 on our dog. Of course, you have the normal expenses - food, treats, flea medication, and toys, but then you have training classes, vet bills, and doggy daycare.

  2. Just like children they need socialization. I cannot express this enough. Do not get a puppy if you are not going to socialize with other dogs or people. In many cases, this breeds anxiety and stress. As they get older they can become people and/or dog reactive if they have not been exposed to many different experiences. On average, training classes can run about $120 to $200 for a 6-week program, but you can receive discounted rates if you buy passes in bulk. These classes not only expose your dog to different people and dogs, but provides structure, discipline, and growth opportunities.

  3. Doggie Daycare is a god-sent! Doggie daycare can be very pricey too. On average we spend $620 every 2-months for a class pass. We bring our puppy 3x per week for socialization and if we didn't she would be locked in a crate for 5-hour blocks throughout the day. This isn't fair for the dog or your sanity after you come home from work. A Shepard Puppy (which is Molly's breed) will bounce off the walls for hours if they have had limited stimulation and interaction all day. For all those people who think pets are not your children, do not get a dog as they are a forever 2-year-old.

  4. Prepare for unexpected illnesses. The first month we had molly we had to visit the vet to complete various vaccines and a general wellness check so we could establish her vet relationship and complete her pet insurance submission request. After having her for a month she was getting green eye boogies and constantly congested. I chalked it up to being a doggie cold that would improve, but it got excessively worse after 3-days. So, I brought her down to the vet to be evaluated. After her $200 vet visit, they told me she had allergies and a light case of conjunctivitis. They gave me antibiotics and eye meds to complete over 1-week and like magic she was all better. Now, we give her an immunity boost vitamin daily. That vitamin costs about $50 every 2-months, but it helps with her regular allergies that we discovered.

  5. Get pet insurance! Many people will tell you that you do not need it and that it is a waste of money. If it was a few years ago, I would have probably said the same thing. After starting to work for an animal welfare organization I got a front-row seat to anything and everything that can go wrong with your dog. A friend of mine had gotten a puppy about 3-months before I got Molly. He ate something that he shouldn't of, became lethargic within 24-hours, and needed emergency surgery with a specialist due to the item being stuck in his intestines. $12,000 later the puppy is alive, happy, and doing well. Could she afford a $12,000 bill? Nope. Is she still paying it still? Yup. If she tried to get pet insurance now, he would a pre-existing condition that would not be covered under the insurance. If she got it before, she wouldn't have had to pay a $12,000 medical bill. You can get pet insurance for catastrophic types of events emergency surgery, cancer, hip issues...etc. Just like human insurance the problems you have when you get on new insurance the higher the cost and less likelihood it will cover any pre-existing conditions you haven't without insane premiums. If you get it while they are a puppy with no issues. You are paying in small $40 to $50 per month to ensure you are covered financially if anything crazy happens.

  6. Have an emergency fund for your pet - If you are totally against pet insurance be sure to start an emergency fund for your dog. Save about $10,000 to cover something catastrophic as you never know what could happen. Even if you do have pet insurance this is a good thing to have in case you have to cover an immediate vet visit or you need to go out of town for an emergency and you need to board them.

The lesson here is we were not ready for a puppy when we got her. She was at the center of a lot of our arguments. Between the alligator puppy biting, endless energy, and waking up at 3 AM or 4 AM after going to bed was a nightmare. Now, she is 6-months, she sleeps through the night, doesn't wake up until we do, is potty trained, does not jump on the stove while cooking (but still whines when she knows it isn't for her), and will respond to a large number of commands. Things we are still working on, recall (will sometimes listen), not chewing on everything that can go in our mouth (but we are getting better), and not scratching the wood floors. Needless to say, it is a never-ending amount of work and training days as well as money that seems to fly out the door. Do your research and understand the time, money, and commitment that will come with the territory of having this wonderful animal in your life.

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