She was our “free” Doberman pinscher. A sweet dog with big brown eyes and a gentle disposition, she was kicked out of a truck and abandoned on the side of the road. Witnessing the tragedy, I stopped and brought her home. Little did I know how much that “free” dog would ultimately cost my family.
When I brought her home, the first order of business was to find a good vet. We were fortunate enough to find one who would let us make payments, a true gift since that first office exam cost more than $200.00 dollars. She had an exam, a full round of shots and was treated for worms. The cost was a little painful, especially for someone who wasn’t familiar with the high cost of vet visits, but we were already falling in love with her. A few months later, she cost another $500.00 dollars with the local vet, because we had to have several of her teeth pulled.
The Clothes and Accessories
The dog we named Gypsy shivered in the Indiana cold. The obvious solution was to buy the poor girl sweaters to keep her warm in the snow. She seemed to appreciate the warmth outside, but she would chew them right off her body if we didn’t take them off fast enough when she came back in. We spent more than $50.00 dollars on clothes before we decided they weren’t worth it. Fortunately, we realized quickly that she had no interest in toys, so there was no expense for them, but she also had a nervous habit of chewing her bedding. This was discovered after spending more than $50.00 dollars on plush dog beds.
The Shock and the Solution
We loved and adored our Doberman, so there was never a discussion of getting rid of Gypsy. She had already been through too much for another set of humans to abandon her, and she was a wonderful dog with excellent manners. However, the realization that we spent more than $800.00 dollars on our free dog in six months was shocking. We did keep her, but we found ways to budget for her expenses.
- An ounce of prevention is cheaper than vet bills. We learned how to brush her teeth, eliminating the high price of having any more teeth pulled.
- Second-hand bedding is the best choice for pets. Plush dog beds won’t impress your pooch, but soft quilts from the local thrift will work great. They’re easier to wash, and Gypsy loved shifting hers around to create the perfect shape. When she chewed too many holes in the five dollar bed, we just threw it out and bought another one.
- Accessories are nice, within reason. Our dogs love us and want our attention and affection. Cool collars and leashes are attractive, but Gypsy didn’t care about any of that. She was happy as long as we were giving her the love she so richly deserved. She got new collars and accessories once in a while, but it was more of a treat for us than her.
Learning how to budget pet-related expenses will make owning a pet more enjoyable. Vet bills can’t be eliminated, but they can be minimized with regular care. Your pet will be just as happy with an old quilt as an expensive dog bed. Finally, the toys and accessories aren’t what makes your dog happy. Just like Gypsy, all any dog really wants is to be loved and cared for, and that won’t cost any money at all.
Doris Sanchez is a freelance blogger and is writing on behalf of debtmanagement.org.uk.