I've also lived with several roommates and helped care for their dogs; there was Achilles, the Doberman; Louie and Niko, the English Bulldogs; Roxie, the Rottweiler and Nasta and Sierra, the boxers. Throughout my whole life the dogs I've cared for were never my financial responsibility. I loved them, fed them, played with them, walked them, help train them, discipline them, but never had to worry about how to pay for them. However, today I'm all grown up with two girls of my own: Zero, a Border Collie/ Dalmatian mix and Izabelle, a Cattle Dog/Keshound mix. So, today we're going to discuss the financial responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Even though I'll be discussing dogs, most of the advice could be applied to any pet.
I previously mentioned that prior to the passing of my parent's Belgian Shepard, Mercedes, they adopted Maggie, the Boxer. Maggie was supposed to be my dog. I was supposed to adopt her from friends who's Boxer's just had a litter. However, I was already living with a friend who had a dog, I already had to find a new home for my ferret, I was not financially stable or personally stable enough to care for her. Enter my parents and their aging, ill dog. I was fortunate that my parents were ready and willing to adopt Maggie because I knew that I was neither ready nor prepared. I was 28 then, and 10 years later my fiance and I decided to adopt a puppy. Why did I wait so long? Why did we wait so long? Because, pets are a HUGE responsibility. They take time, effort, dedication, and money to take care of properly. Don't get me wrong, I've wanted a dog of my own for as long as I can remember, but I knew I had to be honest and realistic with myself. Not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of my future dog.
The ASPCA website offers these great questions to ask yourself before you even consider adopting a new pet:
- Why do you want to adopt a pet?
- Are you ready to make a long-term commitment? Because some cats can live for 20 years, birds and reptiles even longer.
- Do you know what kind of pet is right for you?
- Can you afford to care for the pet's health and safety?
- Will you be able to spend quality time with your pet?
- Are you prepared to deal with the animals health challenges?
- Are you willing to train your animal companion?
- Are you prepared to pet proof your home?
- Is your living space adequate for an animal companion?
- Is your family ready for a pet?
I did tons of research into the proper diet for puppies and dogs and knew we'd be spending more on dog food than some people may anticipate. We both decided we'd rather spend more on dog food than on vet bills, so we were okay with this decision. Time wasn't going to be an issue for care or training, because when we adopted Zero, I was between jobs. Therefore, I had plenty of time to dedicate to her necessary training and care. Time was a huge factor in our decision making process, mainly because puppies take a ton of time. You can't leave them alone and unattended, ever. If you are crate training them, they can only be in their crates an hour longer than their age.
For example, if your puppy is only two months old, they should only be left in their crate for three hours at a stretch. I'm not certain we would have adopted a puppy if we had both been working full time. We also went through puppy training classes, because not only do puppies need to learn how to not potty in the house, they need to be properly socialized with other puppies and dogs, and with other humans, too.
We currently don't have a very big fenced in yard for our girls to run around in and they are both high energy working breed dogs. So, I make it a point to take them on long walks every day. Because high energy dogs (especially working breed dogs) when left to their own devices with little to no exercise or stimulation, will start to become naughty dogs - mostly out of boredom. When we moved to Gillette last March we needed to find an apartment that would allow pets. All of this was part of our decision making process.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? That's okay, you should be.
Being a responsible pet owner can be overwhelming, but it's also rewarding. I have found no greater joy than watching my girls run and play with one another. They comfort me when I'm sad and lonely. They continue to be an endless source of love and entertainment. Our lives may be easier with out them, but they would certainly be emptier and less fulfilling.
At the end of the day, if you've answered the above questions honestly and sincerely, you'll know what to do. In case you need some more information, this info-graphic lays out the money side of pet ownership.
What about you? How did you make the choice to be a responsible pet owner?