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What A Dog Actually Costs: An Update

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A while back, I wrote a post on the costs involved with adopting my precious Mona, which at the time totaled around 1200 dollars. That post remains true, and I still hold that the adoption/setup process was less expensive than I thought it would be. In fact, the whole experience was a pretty pleasant surprise in terms of “this seems like a really adult, put-together thing to do” and “I turned out to be capable of doing it.” Now that I am a Dog Mom In Her 20s, I feel part of a demographic that once seemed intimidating and now seems totally normal and manageable. If you feel that you want a pup but are uncertain about the responsibility, I am here to say that — at least in my experience — you really do rise to the occasion. Now, I can’t imagine a life without my little Mo.

That being said, the expenses that have cropped up since then have been a stark reminder that, no matter how simply anything starts off, you must always plan for the unexpected. First and foremost, being that Mona is a lil’ gal in a big ol’ city filled with male dogs, getting her spayed is of the essence. We haven’t done it yet (she just turned six months old), so it’s something we’re going to take care of in the coming weeks. Technically, we could get it done for super cheap when the SPCA truck rolls around, but that’s at odd hours and only in certain locations. We’re going to do it through our vet, and it’s gonna be between five and six hundred dollars. So there’s that.

And despite her being, overall, a totally healthy pup, we had a small health scare the other day that led to her in a vet’s office hooked up to an IV drip. (I have my suspicions that they saw me come in all nervous and realized they could get money out of me, but still.) The point is, I went in because she was refusing to eat, lying on the floor, and vomiting repeatedly. She got said IV drip, some pills, a little canister to test her poop for stuff, and firm orders to eat chicken and rice for the next few days. Today, she seems back to full form, and we are 300 dollars poorer. Oh, well. That’s what it means to love your dog!

The point is, with pet ownership comes an emergency fund specifically for the pet, on top of all your other emergency funds and savings. Yes, insurance is an option, but our research seems to indicate that, between many vets not accepting it and the high deductibles, it’s often not worth it. But even healthy pups can unexpectedly eat something sharp, or fall and break a bone, or just start randomly vomiting. It happens! And for some reason, when you first get your little ball of furry love, the idea that it might fall ill never really crosses your mind. It just seems so full of life and resilient, and it’s hard to picture what they might look like gazing up at you from the grip of two nurses administering a shot. (They look sad.)

Aside from the normal monthly bills — food, treats, pee pads, poop bags, etc — planning for incidentals is a must. I’ll be traveling with pup this summer, and that’s cost and constraint to consider as well. I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting a dog (if you have the time to commit to it, or the considerable resources to pay for constant dog-sitting). But remember that they are living, breathing things who demand responsibility in attention and time, but also in money that you may have wanted to be spending on other things. This year, in total, we’ll have spent a few grand on little Mona. And while I wouldn’t change her for the world, and her wagging cotton ball tail is the best part of my day, she is an expensive little shit. And you should probably know that before you get your own Mona some day.

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