Who here has seen those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of an Angel” song playing with b-roll of sad, lonely, abused, neglected animals? Ughhh, I literally cry every time I watch one. I literally want to #savealltheanimals
I’ve been an animal lover ever since I can remember. One of my earliest memories that I can remember is carrying around my dad’s 20+ pound cat, Lucky (okay, more like dragging him around) everywhere I went when I was just 2 years old. I was always surrounded by pets growing up – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, my sister’s lizard, turtle, fish – that was normal life to me. Mostly everyone I knew had a pet of some kind – I actually remember thinking that people were kind of weird if they DIDN’T have a pet!
Fast forward a couple decades, and here I am in my late twenties and petless. Gulp. How did this happen?! It literally pains me to write this post today because I am such an animal lover and want a dog soo badly. Seriously, if you could see my Instagram feed you’d realize it. Some of my favorites are @cutepetclub, @dachshundappreciation, and @thethreedachies – cuteness overload every single day. Who doesn’t want unconditional love from a pup?!
Should I get a dog? Even though I dream of having my very own doxie and could hypothetically do it, I’m not going to for a little while longer, and I want to share my perspective on pet ownership today so that it might help others who are debating the same question.
The 2 Reasons Why I’m Waiting To Get a Dog
As someone who is aggressively paying off student loan debt from my undergrad and masters degrees, cost is my first reason that I’m holding off on getting a pup. Right now, I’m paying about one and half times the total of my student loan payment each month to pay down my student loan debt as fast as possible. With that in mind, I’ve actually asked a few of my friends and family members who have dogs approximately how much money they spend each month for their dogs, and it’s more than I had predicted. Pups need more than just a bag of food – we’re talking monthly nutritional supplements, pet insurance, flea + tick control serums, treats, dental/chew toys, grooming, boarding anytime you go out of town, as well as yearly costs for vet checkups, a leash, collar, bed, crate, emergency vetcare, and more.
While doing my own research, I found this Petfinder article that outlines first year and each following year costs for owning a dog. The first year of owning a dog (starting from scratch) can range anywhere from $750 to $10,000! Following years can range from $500 to $9,000. Whoaaa, that’s a lot of money.
Because I work in NYC and have about an hour and 15 minute commute each way to and from work, I’m away from home for at least 11 hours at a time. Eleven hours! My boyfriend has a slightly easier commute but still is gone for about the same amount of time. Add to that the 7-8 hours of sleep that I get every day, and that’s about 19 hours where I’m preoccupied, which leaves only 5 hours of time (split between my mornings and evenings) when I am home or could be home. At least 3 nights a week I work out at 8pm for one hour, so those nights I’m hardly home before going to bed. Other nights, I may have industry events and may not get home until after 10pm (and I go straight to bed).
Not only would it be not fair for a furbaby to have so little time with me, but I would also have to hire a dog walker to come and walk my pup each day because I’m gone so long each workday, and guess what? Dog walkers here are EXPENSIVE, like $400/month ($20/half hour walk x 5 days a week x 4 weeks). Even if Cesar and I split the cost of a dog walker, $200 is a lot to spend each month just on dog walks (in addition to all the other monthly expenses mentioned above).
I know most of us are busy and tons of people still have dogs, I just personally think it would be selfish of me to get a dog and then only spend maybe a couple hours a day with it.
Don’t let me fool you, there are days where I feel THIS CLOSE to just caving in and saving f*** it, let’s get a dog! Cesar and I kind of do it to each other, too, because we feel the same way about it. However, there’s an even bigger lesson that I’ve taught myself through this internal conflict of wanting a dog but not having the financial health + time for one, and that’s this: this isn’t the right season of my life to have a dog. I have some hustling to do. I have some selfish tendencies that I’m not ready to give up quite yet like staying out late after work sometimes, and that’s okay. I’m much happier realizing this now without a dog than figuring it out the hard way after getting one.
My goal is to pay off my student loan debt in the next 3 years. I’ve told myself that once I’m debt free, I can use the money I spend on student loans on a dog walker. I’m excited to know that someday in the future, I’ll wake up with the same questions about my financial health and having the time for a dog, and the answer will be yes, I can do it, I can commit, and what a great day that’ll be.
For now, though, how do I get my dog fix while dogless, you might be wondering? Oh, that’s easy. Cesar and I watch my neighbor’s dachshund, Chico, fairly often and also other friends ask us to watch their dogs, too, when they travel. Most of our friends in the city aren’t from here, so they travel semi-regularly and need to board their dogs. Watching our friends’ dogs has been a fun way to test out which dog breeds we like/love/can’t stand. For example, I like corgis, pitbulls, greyhounds, + king charles spaniels; love dachshunds, and can’t stand pugs (there’s a backstory to the reason why, but I won’t go into details on here)!
What about you? Are you in the same boat as me or do you already have a dog? Would love to hear your two cents, either way. Comment below.