I was thinking about dogs this morning.
We Americans are dog lovers. According to the Humane Society there are about 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States. Thirty nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog.
We spoil our pets and spend a lot of money making them comfortable, and our vets richer.
We go to pet stores and buy them treats, soft cushions, special soaps and shampoos and toys of all kinds.
And clothes too.
For a while my daughter had this thing about buying clothes for her two pampered dogs.
She dressed them in sweaters in winter and dog outfits on special occasions.
All pet stores have sections that have dog clothes for sale. Walmart does too.
There are sundresses, blue jeans and matching denim jackets, frilly skirts, pants. There are raincoats, sweatshirts, tees, pajamas, boots and bandanas, bows and all kinds of holiday costumes. You can turn your dog into a snow princess, a monkey, a sailor boy or girl, a witch, a sheriff dog, or a bat dog or chef or skeleton dog.
Just about anything one would want in the doggy fashion world can be found in pet departments or online.
My daughter gave one of her dog's outgrown sweaters to my son's dog, Boss.
Now Boss is a man dog and he doesn't like foreign objects on his body.
I don't need a sweater was his reaction.
He tried his level best to rip that sweater from his body by doing back flips, jumps, rollovers and running in circles. And he wouldn't stop howling until the said sweater was removed. Only then did he assume his dog role of sleeping in his favorite recliner or dozing in front of the oscillating fan. He doesn't require fancy foods or treats either.
He thrives on Fred's canine dog food or Walmart's Ole Roy. He doesn't need beef that's packaged in individual servings or multicolored treats flavored in beef, chicken, and fish. He's content with the basics and a chew bone now and then.
But owning a dog isn't cheap, especially if they live a long time.
The first year is the most expensive.
There's the purchase price, if you buy a purebred from a respectable breeder or dealer.
The long term cost is, of course, determined by the breed, size, and health of the pet. A rural midwest dog versus a metropolitan area would also be a deciding factor.
Other than the purchase price there are other costs including food, vaccines, spay/neuter, bed, treats, collars and leashes, grooming tools, deworming, vitamins, fences, a crate or kennel and veterinarian bills.. On average the cost is about $500 a year. If you had the dog for 12 years or more the cost could vary from $4,000 up to $39,000.
I figure that my family dog, Chip, was on the low end of the scale since he was rarely sick and vet bills were almost nonexistent. I did take him for puppy shots and his yearly rabies shot but often that was given at the local fire station for $5.
Chip was a gift to my young daughter when he was just five weeks old, a fat puppy with white wavy hair. He was a mix between a French poodle and a fox terrier. and he lived to be almost 17 years old. Whatever the financial cost in those many years was cancelled by the love, devotion, companionship and pure fun he gave to our family.
My son and daughter loved playing hide and seek with Chip or running through the hallway trying to elude him. He liked to snuggle against family members on the couch and often he would dare my son to take a pillow away from him at bedtime. He would snarl and growl if anyone tried to remove his favorite pillow, but he didn't bite. He loved to go camping with the family and once he took a cross country airplane trip with us in a four-seater Cessna. His favorite treat was a vanilla wafer on command; he would do all kinds of tricks for a wafer. He could sit, roll over, dance in a circle on his hind legs, or crawl.
Yes, having a dog requires time, responsibility and caretaking. They are confining because they require a lot of attention. The cost in time and money should be considered. Getting a dog on a whim is not wise, because all families are not dog friendly. That's one of the reasons unwanted pets are often found in animal shelters awaiting adoption or, worse, left abandoned.
They are man's best friend, loyal and true.
They will tug at your heart long after they are gone.
And they love unconditionally.