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Making the Difference

Meet Tinka.

She’s a Carolina-Catahoula mix that we adopted last February. She became a welcome addition to our family in a very short amount of time.

Tinka was born in a puppy mill. When we adopted her she was heartworm positive. Unfortunately, the recovery track that the rescuers put her on did not work and a year later she is still heartworm positive. I am juggling our budget to do the shot therapy that the vet says will take them out without fail…$300 hurts the old savings account some.

Regardless of whether your buy from a breeder or rescue from a shelter, dogs are expensive. They are worth every penny, please don’t misunderstand me, but the joy of dog companionship should not be taken lightly.

In addition to the heartworm issue, Tinka suffers from separation anxiety and is on a low dose of Prozac. The separation anxiety drives her to chew…she ate 5 pairs of my work shoes in less than 2 weeks (one pair I had just taken from the closet and placed on the bed to go blow dry my hair…less than 5 minutes later they were toast). She has eaten numerous books–some for my husband’s schooling, some “for fun” books. (This was all prior to us determining her separation anxiety…expensive lesson learned.)

Dollars and cents are not the most important part of this relationship, though, as I said, they can’t be ignored. Care and feeding of dogs (or any other pet, for that matter) who are part of your family must be listed as a line item on your budget and fall in the NEED category. Food, veterinary care, heartworm preventative medicine, annual shots…all have to be accounted for. Since these costs fall into the “Periodic” category of expenses, add up what you spent last year, divide by 12 and then save that amount every single month to go towards this year’s costs.

If your pet is new to you, call your vet and find out what the annual check-up and shots will cost, check 2 or 3 different stores for the best deal on dog food, and then add about $350 for incidentals like toys, dog shampoo–yes, they need regular baths–, nail trimmers (or a trip to get them cut) and an extra trip to the vet in case something comes up. If you decide that bathing and brushing the dog isn’t for you, you’ll need to add regular trips to the groomer’s as well. (I suggest trading chores…in our house, I clean the fish tank and my husband bathes the dog. WIN-WIN!! And so much cheaper than taking the dog to a professional.)

We live in Georgia. Normally it’s quite warm here. This month, however, we’ve had some very, very cold temperatures–at least cold for Tinka who is a Southern dog through and through…hence the sweatshirt. Absolutely, I could’ve headed to the store and bought a cute dog sweatshirt…but Tinka is a 50 lb. dog and my son never wears this size 7-8 sweatshirt. Voila, Tinka looks great in black and green!

Tinka, truly, is one of my children. She doesn’t get home-cooked food, she’s a Purina dog, but she does get couch privileges. She watches for the bus every day so that when “her boy” comes home he can walk her. She stays warm, watered, fed, medicated, and exercised.

Always remember that your dog is meant to be active. Walking the dog is free exercise…for you and for them. I strongly encourage you to set a time or distance goal and hold to it every day. Not only will this familiarize you with your dog’s peeing and pooping habits (which in some cases can help you determine if they are sick and/or need a trip to the vet), but it will give you additional bonding time with your pet. Man or woman, dog is truly a great best friend!

I suggest rescuing through a shelter. Sometimes the costs can be comparable with buying from some breeders
(to adopt Tinka it cost us $275)–but you’re saving a life, and that…regardless of the other costs associated with your new family member…is priceless!