Thank you for your patience with me, readers of this blog. In part because of my new job, in part because of my 40th birthday, in part because of my family from Chile visiting, I have taken a sabbatical of sorts this summer, and have not been posting as often. I hope to get back to a more regular writing schedule soon. I appreciate you reading!
Just about one year ago, on August 6th, 2018, we brought Lucy the dog home from the Amish farm.
Lucy is our labradoodle who we bought from an Amish breeder at a farm just an hour away from our house in Davidson, North Carolina.
I resisted getting a dog for years, and with good reason: a dog is a ton of work. Taking care of Lucy has felt like taking care of another child, in a lot of ways. We had to potty train her (housebreak her), sleep train her (crate train her), set up playdates (dog park outings), and find babysitters when we go out of town (pet sitters).
There has been no small amount of expense related to my furry white daughter, as Mr. ThreeYear calls her (as opposed to my hairless Latino sons, I suppose?).
And although I am very firm in my decision that she is the last family pet that we shall have (stating it on the internet makes it official), she has brought a lot of joy to our lives.
In this post, I’m going to outline allll the costs involved in taking care of Lucy for the last year. I will include all the direct costs, like vet visits, food, and toys. I won’t include all the indirect costs, like the cost of replacing my favorite pen that she chewed up, or replacing my sister-in-law’s slippers, etc. We’ll just call those bonus expenses.
I actually have no idea what the total is going to be, so this should be fun (and make me all the more certain that she is our last family pet).
Rehoming Fee: $450
Lucy is a first generation Labradoodle, meaning she is the product of a lab mom and poodle dad. She looks a lot like a Labrador Retriever with curly hair. For this reason, she cost a little bit less than a second or third generation Labradoodle with a more-Poodle like face. But, she’s been super healthy so we’re happy with our choice.
I’ve actually never bought a dog before; she is the first. Normally we rescue a dog at the Humane Society. But, for some reason, we decided to purchase a specific breed. I think Mr. ThreeYear wanted to ensure the dog would be good with the boys.
Food & water bowls, toys, treats, and leash #1: $30.58.
I went to Dollar General on the day we were bringing her home (August 8th), and stocked up on some basics. Dollar General had great deals on pet supplies, but I made the mistake of buying a small retractable leash, which she quickly ate through.
Pet food, Leash #2, more toys, a bone: $56.58
Carpet Fresh Carpet Powder, Amazon: $10.85
I think this expense speaks for itself.
Lakecross Vet: $71.28.
One of the things I learned this year is that it’s important to price-compare. When we first brought Lucy home, I called all the local vets and priced out spays. Most vets quoted $450+ for a spay, plus the cost of her vaccinations.
Luckily, a friend came to visit and suggested we call the ASPCA, and see if they had low-cost operations. Low and behold, our local “Stand for Animals” clinic had a new puppy package where Lucy could get all her vaccinations plus a spay for $150, saving us hundreds of dollars.
Chew toys, bones, and another heavy-duty leash: $61.40
Total spent in Month 1: $680.69
Okay, so far, we spent a lot in Lucy’s first month with us. But a lot of that was the rehoming fee. How’d we fare in the next phase, Settling In?
During months 2-4 of having Lucy, we continued to spend a fair amount on our furry daughter.
In September, October, and November, we spent roughly $176.92 on food. We decided to buy her really good quality food (Call of the Wild) from a local pet store. Each bag, which lasts approximately a month, costs about $50, tax included, which is a little more expensive than if I bought it online. But you get the 10th bag of food for free and also earn rewards points (once you spend $500 in the store you get $60 back, etc.) so with those combined discounts, I decided to shop locally.
We spent $255 on Lucy’s vet costs. We bought a New Puppy Package from our local “Stand for Animals” clinic at $150, plus an extra $20 for extra anesthesia because she’s a large dog. We spent $75 on heartworm meds.
I enrolled in a Puppy Obedience Class at Petco for $127.57. In hindsight, I’m really glad I did, because she’s much better behaved and I am a better owner now that we’ve both been trained. We could actually enroll in another class because we’ve both forgotten a lot from the class.
We spent $8.52 on water bowls and $58.38 on treats and rawhide bones (which I’ve now stopped giving her in favor of real, uncooked bones I buy at the supermarket).
We bought a used crate for our house for $40.
We bought a new leash that attaches around her middle for $32.16. That is the best leash we bought, because when we walk her, it moves her legs when we tug the leash, so there’s no pulling.
We spent $60 on a weekend of pet-setting.
And we bought a crate for the beach house, for $87.19 at Petco. While the crate has served us well, because it’s lived at the beach, I hated to spend that much when I knew we could get a used crate for so much less.
Total for months 2-4: $1,144.16
By the time December rolled around, Lucy was in high puppy form. She required twice-daily walks, chewed everything she could find, dug, and otherwise made us regret getting her, except when she curled up on our feet at night or snuck into the bedroom in the morning and licked Mr. ThreeYear good morning, or when Little ThreeYear wrapped his arms around her and gave her kisses.
This was definitely the height of us threatening to take her back to the Amish farm, however.
I think she must have eaten about 20 socks during this period (which she always threw back up afterwards-fun).
But how much did it cost?
Well, things definitely calmed down cost-wise, even if they weren’t calming down with our dog.
We spent a total of $131.37 on food during December through February.
We spent $51.80 on treats and toys. I’m not exactly sure what treats and toys we bought, but we learned early on that some toys last a day or two, while the more expensive ones last indefinitely.
During Christmas, my dad paid for us to board her, which cost $280.
In total, not including the boarding, we spent $183.17 during her Frisky Phase.
Lucy got spayed in February, and after that, she calmed down considerably. It took a little while, but gradually, she stopped chewing everything. Once we wised up and bought a shock collar, she stopped eating our socks and jumping on our cabinets and eating everything, which was a very annoying habit. The thing about the shock collar is that everyone in the family tested it on ourselves before we put it on Lucy. We only had to shock her twice before we could just push the vibration button or push the warning button (which beeps) and she’d stop the bad behavior. But it worked really well and maybe saved her life, because of all those non-food items she was eating (when she was spayed, they found a quarter, a paperclip, and a rubber band she’s swallowed).
This period, which we’re still in, went from March through the end of this month, July. How’d we fare?
In the last five months, we spent $153.88 on food.
The next bag of food we get is free.
We spent $55 on her collar, a nail trim, and some meds for post-surgery.
We spent $26.39 on hearworm meds.
We spent $41.56 on treats, including her birthday treats (she turned 1 on May 31st).
Finally, we spent $250 to board her last week when we went to the beach. We try to avoid boarding her whenever possible, but last week we had my sisters-in-law visiting and lots of other family at the beach as well, so we thought it would be too crazy to have her.
That’s a total of $526.83 for the last five months.
That means that in the last year, we’ve spent a grand total of…
$2534.85 on our dog Lucy in Year 1 of her life.
Going forward, I expect that the largest costs we’ll incur are food and yearly vet checkups. Our plan is to keep her as healthy as possible through good food and exercise so she won’t need to go to the vet so often.
You can spend lots of money on treats and toys, but those are generally bad for your dog. I think the best course of action is to get one or two high-quality toys, like a Kong, and buy uncooked bones from the grocery store or inexpensive crunchy dog treats and stick with that.
I am glad we brought Lucy home, because we all love her, and she’s turned into a loyal and sweet dog who follows us around all the time and makes us laugh.
What do you think about pets? How do your pet expenses compare to ours?