The Hidden Costs of Dog Ownership by Jayne Ormerod

As any faithful followers of this blog know, we adopted two mutts last year. Having had many fur-babies over the many, many years of marriage, we went in with eyes wide open with regards to expected costs. We knew that a vet visit will set you back a pretty penny; heart-worm pills and flea and tick treatment were pricey, but not optional; and food and poop bags are included in the cost of being loved. But this time around there were some hidden costs that snuck up on us. And they are adding up quickly.

1. We have two “chewers”. It doesn’t seem to be a phase, but more of honing a life skill. First it was mulch, which was fine (and cheap!) But when we filled the toy box with lots of cute toys, the price of entertainment rose exponentially. Each double-digit priced toy gave about 15 minutes of entertainment before we needed to haul out the Jaws of Life and perform an emergency “squeaker extraction”. (We caught all but 2, which thankfully passed without incident!) It hurts my head to think about how much we “invested” in a few moments of fun for them. I have learned and now resist the urge to purchase the cute stuff. Instead I head over to the boring, unimaginative aisle for “Serious Chewers”. Himilayan Dog Chews (made of Yak Milk) run us about $30 per week. They also like various and sundry Nylabones and natural stick products, which last longer (but apparently don’t taste as yummy).

The chewing, however, expanded beyond suitable toys. If you come I my house you might think termites have run amok. My pups have chewed on the wood patio furniture, the wood trim on the house, the wood baseboards throughout the house, the edges of the wood stairs, the wood knobs on the bedroom dresser, the wood Captain’s chest in the bedroom (plus the rope handles), and the piano legs and bench! If it’s wood, they will chew.  It hurts my head to think about the repair bills…once they outgrow this stage.

2.  Again, we expected chewing and the loss of an occasional shoe. Heck, I even HOPED he would chew up my old shoes so I could, with a clear conscious, buy new ones! But my dogs have good taste, and only went for the new expensive shoes. Ones that I absolutely LOVED!

And yes, well-meaning readers, we did spray Bitter Apple everywhere. There were times I treated it like perfume and doused myself in it (because they liked to chew on shoes even when my feet were in them.) Do you know those crazy pooches even chewed the bottle? It leaked all over the table. It had to have tasted badly…and yet, they chewed.

3.  What I did NOT expect was that while I snuck out to get the mail, that they would sneak into my bedroom and devour every thing on my nightstand. Apparently, my little jewelry dish held some yummy items. They ate many earrings, and the ones on posts had to hurt! But the one I was most distressed over was my very favorite sea-glass earring. Notice that was singular…they only ate one…I still have the un-chewn one. I did not monitor the “output” for the missing one. I have shopped for something similar, but alas, nothing yet.

(It has just occurred to me the upside to this is my having to shop for replacement items! Maybe I need to rub some steak juice on some other things that are still perfectly serviceable but that I would love to replace! Brilliant, yes?)

4.  All the dogs we’ve ever had were issued one leash each, which lasted a lifetime and was only retired once the dog was no longer with us. One leash per dog was in the budget. But, again with the chewing thing. One evening my husband came home carrying little Tiller. In his hand he held the leash, which had been chewed into 7 pieces while husband had stood talking to a neighbor, with not one segment long enough to lead the dog home. (Yes, it must have been a long conversation…) So Tiller got a new one. Which he again chewed during a neighborly jaw-wobble. We are on leash #5 now, but who’s counting?

  1. But all of the above items are peanuts compared to the bed. No, they didn’t chew that. My husband cracked one night and lifted the 12-pound puppy on the bed to sleep. Fine when he was 12 pounds, but not so much when he grew to over 80 pounds, and liked to stretch out while he sleeps. The little one snuggles with us, too. I know, sleep with the dogs…wake up with fleas. Some people absolutely abhor the idea of dogs in sharing the beds. But I know for a fact I am not the only crazy dog-momma to do this! But I digress. To get back on point, the morning I woke having been pushed so far to the edge that my head rested on my nightstand (sans pillow), I said, “That’s it. I’m buying a king-sized bed.” Son talked us into a new hybrid-style mattress (which I will admit is super comfortable but it ain’t cheap). The bigger mattress required a bigger bed frame, bigger sheets, bigger comforter, and apparently bigger pillows! You do the math. But I’m happy to report we are all sleeping much better.

Despite the above, we still have the pups and enjoy every minute with them. It has been a bigger financial pill that we’d intended to swallow, but it’s repaid daily in puppy kisses and welcoming tail wags. I guess what I’m saying is, no matter how hard you try, you can’t put a price on puppy love.

ABOUT JAYNE:

Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck, as well as a doze other short stories and novellas. Her most recent releases are Goin’ Coastal and To Fetch a Thief.

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