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The cost of a puppy

Last March, our beloved, elderly lab mix suddenly developed catastrophic liver cancer and I took him in for a check-up because he had been acting weird and left with an urn. The kids asked if we could get a puppy. I said no. They asked again. I said maybe. They asked again, because apparently they know I’m a pushover, and in August, we got Luna.

We wanted to go through a shelter but the kids specifically wanted a puppy, and the demand at the shelter for puppies was insane. I realized that if I had to show up half an hour before the shelter opened and frantically line up references so that I could get my application in before they hit their “we are only accepting 12 applications” limit that I wasn’t “rescuing” a puppy from a fate worse than death (er…a fate that was death). I looked on Craigslist for puppies that I thought would probably end up at the shelter if nobody took them (I don’t feel great about this, I think it’s not best practices to get a puppy from Craigslist, but we kept hitting walls with rescues and shelters, so that’s the route we took). I found Luna.

Luna is, in many ways, exactly the dog for us. She’s a lab mixed with blue heeler, so she’s hard-working, friendly, neurotic, and a nutjob, just like everybody in our house. I thought I wanted a bigger dog, but she’s about 40 pounds, which turns out to be just the right size to not quite be able to barrel over children (except Amelia, who kind of likes to get barreled over).

Luna is mostly potty trained, but she hates putting people out, so sometimes, rather than asking for help opening the door, she’ll pee on the floor, which I get at a molecular level. She thinks all strangers are psychotic murderers until she has met them for 5 minutes, and then she would lay down her life for them (hello, it’s me). She runs in terror from the vacuum cleaner, which is obviously the only sane thing to do when it comes to cleaning supplies.

Luna is terrible for our FI journey.

There was a rehoming fee of $200, which I agree with, because when you give puppies away for free they end up in bad situations.

Spaying her and shots cost something like $350 altogether.

The flea infestation that she brought to my house cost about $300 and PROBABLY FIFTY YEARS OFF MY LIFE.

We kept having to buy bottles of Nature’s Miracle because it turns out puppies pee everywhere. Probably $75 on that.

We bought three (or was it four?) of these portable fences. We have a huge back yard that would cost at least five years of retirement money to fence in, but sometimes (all the time), I just want to let the dog out to pee without having to put my own shoes on. This allowed us to make a little enclosed area that has also been useful for when people come over and Luna is acting like a nutjob. When she was even more crazy, I used to put her outside every time I would come home, before the kids would come inside, because she’s just so goddamned happy to see kids come in the house that she would become a ball of destruction and the kids’ shrieking would break my brain into bits. The fences cost about $150.

I bought a crate from Amazon. I should have found a used one but I did that before and it was broken, and I didn’t have any luck finding one on short notice. I tried to crate train Luna, and failed, then I asked the vet for advice and she said, “it’s like when you let your kids cry it out” and then my mind flashed to our sleeping arrangements, which consist of me, an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old, crammed into a full-size bed, and should have realized then and there that the crate training wasn’t going to work. So that was a waste of fifty bucks.

Her food is about $40 a month, but I also spend maybe $15 a month on Pupperoni because that gets her to follow directions and that, it turns out, is non-negotiable. I also bought bully sticks in bulk because if she’s chewing on a bully stick she’s not chewing on iPhone cords, so that costs us about $30 a month but saves us like…well, all of our earthly possessions. So, $85 a month.

I bought some Kong fetch toys, some chew toys, some ropes, and a heavy duty Frisbee, probably another $50, that have been worth their weight in gold.

Oh yeah, every time we go out of town, the babysitter costs $30 a night. Ask me how many times I’ve paid for a babysitter for my kids? Zero times. But you can’t take a dog to an overnight gymnastics meet. That’s cost us about $300.

So in 6 months, we’ve lost something like $1985.

But that’s not all. I forgot how much time a puppy takes. Especially a nutjob neurotic fits-just-right puppy. To keep her from destroying every inch of our home, and to get her to sort of listen sometimes, and to bring the nutjob percentage down by about 5%, I take her for a 2.5 mile run every single day (except that one day when people were literally dying from the cold, but only because I was afraid that I would die in the polar vortex and people would shame me postmortemly). That’s half an hour in the morning, plus all the time it takes to strap my old-lady hefty bosoms down. I always play Frisbee with her in the afternoon, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for 30. Average, I probably spend an average of an hour each day trying to minimize her destructive tendencies.

If I were not trying to go for FI, that would probably be okay, but I am. We’re trying to attack our debt through freelancing, and the Luna time is taking up my freelance time. If I make about $40 per hour on average, that’s $1200 a month I am losing on this puppy. And my instinct when people say that is to say “yeah, but you wouldn’t have spent that time doing freelancing,” but in this case, I would. The only space I have in my schedule (once I do my full time job, keep the house from falling in on itself, take my dependents to a billion doctors and 400,000 activities, and somehow get food on the table (er, couch)) is during prime freelance time. Blergh.

It’s not forever, I imagine that we’ll be able to scale back on the exercise when she’s between 2 and 3. She’s a snugglebug. We love her. We are meeting her needs. I am getting exercise. But jeeeeeeeeez I did not calculate this correctly.

It’s a good thing for her that her face is perfect.

Look at that dumb perfect face.

10 thoughts on “The cost of a puppy”

  1. This puppy is a new member of the family. Do you perform the same financial analysis when contemplating bringing in a new baby boy or girl into the world? Seriously!

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    1. I mean…probably people should? I’m of the mind that you should know what you are getting into before getting into it. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong about talking about how much things cost. Maybe even the opposite – knowing the cost of something and choosing it anyway underscores the value you think it brings to your life.

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  2. I love the last line, “Look at that dumb perfect face.”

    You summed it up quite hilariously and I loved this post. Nothing wrong with looking at the cost of getting pets. The do cost money and that is something to consider. I would still have gotten my cat (she also has a dumb, perfect face. Lol), but does help to plan.

    I feel your pain on the fleas. We are fighting them now (she is an indoor cat and been with us for years) and it’s definitely taken years off my life as well. LOL.

    Thank you for writing. 🙂

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