Ten long years — that’s the amount of time my two youngest kids had been begging for a puppy. Even though we love dogs, my husband and I had always said “no way” would we bring a four-legged creature into our already busy lives.
For starters, my hubby Earl and I travel a lot, both for work and leisure; having a dog wouldn’t be conducive to our lifestyle, we reasoned. Besides, a dog would require a lot of work. We’d have to clean up after it all the time, potty train it and take it outside for frequent walks.
Click to read more about splurging on a new pet for the family.
Then there was the money issue. Buying or adopting a dog would incur its own expense, not to mention vet bills, pet insurance and the costs of replacing whatever the dog tore up or ate up. Ka-ching. We could already hear the cash register ringing as “doggie dollars” went out the door.
But, every year, the kids would persist with their requests to add a furry little member to our household. So, what did we do? My spouse and I did what nearly all loving (and browbeaten) parents do in these circumstances. On Christmas Day 2016, we surprised the kids and told them that, as a Christmas gift, they could get a dog the following month.
To say that the kids were ecstatic would be an understatement. My son, who was then 17, was literally hyperventilating with joy; meanwhile, my 12-year-old daughter couldn’t stop beaming and asking, “Really? Really? Really?”
In January 2017, after visiting multiple adoption centers, rescue shelters and pet stores, we finally chose a 3-½-month-old purebred beagle, whom we named Astro. As expected, adding Astro to our family was a huge upheaval, especially when it came to sleeping — or, shall I say, lack thereof. Having to get up with him several times in the middle of the night reminded us of what if felt like to have a newborn baby all over again.
So, no one was more surprised than us when, exactly one year later, my husband and I did something we never thought we’d do — we got another dog. This new puppy was, coincidentally, also a 3-1/2-month-old purebred beagle. We named her Comet.
Our dogs from left to right, Comet (female) at 7 months, Astro (male), 1 year and 7 months.
The second time around, we truly had our eyes wide open. We understood the costs, which is why we called Comet our “$45,000 dog.” Here’s a breakdown of the expenses for her alone, and how we arrived at that huge figure.
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Though we looked at shelters and rescue centers, we ultimately obtained Comet from a pet store, at the cost of $1,000.
Right away, we stocked up on puppy food, a new crate for dog training, leash essentials and a couple of items to get Comet happily acclimated into our New Jersey home. We also took Comet to the veterinarian for a checkup and needed shots.
• Initial Vet Exam/Vaccinations: Dog: $90
• Dog Crate: $40
• Dog Food: $25
• Puppy Sofa/Cushion: $20
• Dog Leash and Collar or Leash: $15
• Dog Toys: $10
Further, our on-the-go lifestyle means that our ongoing annual cost of pet ownership will be higher than average. For instance, my husband’s birthday is in January, and we typically set off to a warm-weather destination to celebrate. This year, it was the Riviera Maya in Mexico. During our trip, we boarded Comet in a kennel run by our veterinarian. The eight days of boarding cost $160 — and that’s with our vet giving us a discounted boarding rate of $20 a day.
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In mid-February, we spent a week in Paris to celebrate Valentine’s Day. That was another $160 per dog for boarding, plus $100 “doggy playtime” each ($520 total). It was also time for Comet to get more shots ($200) and spayed ($250). Total vet bill: $970.
This summer, we’re planning another trip to Europe (as I said, we travel a lot). While we’re overseas in Italy and Switzerland, we’ll rack up another large boarding bill with the vet.
Additionally, there are numerous miscellaneous costs that add up, like floor cleaning and sanitizing products for our home; the cost of repairing or replacing furniture and household items Comet destroys and, unfortunately, all of our shoes that our furry little rascal somehow sneakily seizes and chews to bits.
Average Annual Cost
• Vet Visits/Shots/Medicines: $450
• Dog Food: $300
• Toys and Treats: $120
• Dog Grooming: $100
• License/Microchip: $30
• Pet Insurance: $250
• Miscellaneous: $750
• Boarding Fees: $1,000
Bottom line: Comet costs us $3,000 a year, or a whopping $250 a month. If you multiply that $3,000 annual expense by Comet’s expected lifetime of 15 years, it equals $45,000 — and that’s why we call Comet our “$45,000 dog.”
Frankly, Earl and I recognize that we could do other things with that money. Maybe sock it away in our retirement account or further fund our 12-year-old daughter’s 529 college savings plan. But, overall, we’re both really glad that we decided to add Comet to our family life. Yes, she can be a pain when she gets whiny. And she is hands-down the greediest dog we’ve ever seen. Still, Comet’s boundless energy and loving nature bring us pure, unadulterated happiness.
The way I see it, the smiles that she puts on all of our faces make her priceless.
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