Re: Questions about adopting a dog
posted at 3/29/2012 10:34 AM EDT
Siena, there's something else about having a dog. They can get hurt and sick and often do. The stats vary by breed, but the fact is that if YOUR dog gets hurt or sick those stats don't mean anything. Before you get a dog, decide how much you'd be willing to spend on emergencies, congenital problems that become apparent 6 months - years after you get them, etc. For an example, we thought that regular vet visits, food, and toys would be about it for Gracie. This is what happened on top of these things:
6 months, torn ear on random barbed wire in woods. In her first year, she got 3 ear infections and needed vet visits and prescription ear drops. We started buying tea tree oil ear cleaner (not cheap) that stopped the infections. Also in her first year, I took her to Petco to get nails clipped and she split a nail in half the next day. Needed vet visit and antibiotics. (I learned to clip her nails myself.)
Year 2 she tore her knee and needed surgery (which my parents Cocker Spanial needed at the same time of Gracie's surgery and he just tore the OTHER KNEE recently and is going through it all, again). During recovery, she jumped and fell so we needed extra x-rays. We bought a memory foam chip bed for specifically for surgery recovery, a Comfycone (which I recommend preemptively owning you WILL need it at some point), and new toys to keep her occupied while she was recovering. Also, we started her on supplements to support her healing, vet approved, of course. We drove 2 hours each way to the hospital 3 times. Then, she caught a toenail on the door and ripped it off. She broke a tooth on the patio grabbing at a stick and needed an extraction.
Oh, and trips. Safe and clean kennels that are responsible and give the dogs appropriate exercise and play time are expensive.
Puppy kindergarten was a big help since I'd never trained a dog.
So, on top of her purchase price, regular vet visits, food, treats, and toys, we've spent an additional $5000 - $6000 in under 3 years.
Not everyone has to go through this, thankfully, but it can happen. Our neighbors have a 6 month old rescue lab mix, and they just discovered (or she just developed, I don't know) she has a hip problem that needs expensive surgery (~$4000). They cannot afford this. Period. So, their active breed dog is tied up on a rope in the yard all day and not allowed to play. It's just under a year old, and they are very distraught over the situation.
When Gracie tore her knee you can't believe all the "Oh, that happened to me or someone I know," stories I heard.
These expenses are not so rare that it's ridiculous to consider these things and how you'd handle them were they to happen to your dog.