Tue. Feb 7th, 2023

How much is that dog by the window… so goes an old song. It is easy to fall in love with the dog at the pet store or at the shelter. But buying it – or even adopting one — is not the same as buying on a whim a nice pair of shoes or a cool shirt. The shoes and the shirt you can simply put in the closet or get rid of after the initial fancy or cool is gone. At issue is how much of a dog lover are we?

It is easy to overlook the cost part when you think of the benefits. Or when you are simply infatuated by the dog or the idea of having one. How cool is it to carry around a live toy-dog like Tinkerbell of Paris Hilton fame. Or have an energetic windhound or a lovely labrador to walk or run with. Or a hunter dog to hunt with. Or bring home a dog playmate and a pleasant distraction for the kids. Psychologists tell us, pets and pet dogs teach young kids such positive traits as kindness, caring, love and loyalty.

Various studies on the health benefits of having pets also show that pets make owners healthier by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, prevent heart diseases and help fight depression. The positive effects of pet ownership even lower health care costs for people who, as a result, make fewer doctor visits for non-serious medical conditions.

The initial price of acquiring a pet dog may or may not be easy on the pocket depending on how much the household budget is. At the San Francisco SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) for example, the cost of dog adoption ranges from $80-$300 depending on the age of the dog, plus $20 for dog license fee. Recently, it adopted a policy of variable adoption fees, the price being based on whether a certain dog or breed is in high demand, as a means to raise funds for the other animals in need in the shelter.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) places the average cost of buying a dog at $364, based on a 2011-2012 National Pet Owners survey where pet owners were asked on the amount spent on pets in the past 12 months. The higher cost is attributed to the increasing cost of pure breed dogs. https://askandythedog.com/best-flea-and-tick-shampoo-for-dogs/

This is just the beginning. In the same survey, it is estimated that basic expenses for dog owners is at $1,542 a year which consisted of surgical vet visits, $407; routine vet, $248; food, $254; kennel boarding, $274; vitamins, $95; travel expenses, $78; grooming/grooming aids, $73; food treats, $70; and toys, $43. If surgical visits and kennel boarding were not factored in, granted that the dog is healthy for most of its life and the owner has a family to leave the dog with when they travel, a safe bet for expenses is over $800 a year.

In rare cases you may escape the initial cost of buying or adopting the dog you want. If you find a stray and decide to keep it if no one would claim it – after reporting to the local animal control agency or the shelter you pick. Examples are the stories on two adopted dogs I have met on the trail. A rescue cleverly named Ruscoe by the human who found him, is a brown brindle with uncertain mix-breed who was found sick and abandoned near a stream. Another is Winnie, a chihuahua, who was found barking and roaming around confused on a busy street. When they were found, they could have easily made it as poster dogs of owner irresponsibility and animal cruelty. There is no escaping the succeeding expenses for these new parents: dog license of $12 -$21, and vet costs for immunization and treatment, cost undisclosed.

This is not to discourage dog ownership. This is opening our eyes to the reality of dog ownership. Costly maybe, but the rewards priceless. To many of us, the cost may even be the least of the factors at issue. Commitment is. If you decide you are up to the task and are committed to taking good care of a dog for the long haul, then another dog may just have found a new human friend and a new home for keeps.

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