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Why We Don’t Have a Dog (yet)


Derek's dog Lucy after her first haircut. 🙂

I grew up with a golden retriever that passed when I was 15. My family then got two border collies that are now 9 years old. The personalities my dogs have bring me so much joy when I get to see them while visiting my parents. Most of our friends are in their 20’s and we know of at least 6 couples that got a puppy over the past year (including Derek & Mrs. LAMF!). Every time I see a friend’s puppy I turn to Dave and say “We NEED to get one.” I would really REALLY  love to have a puppy, but it’s just not in the cards for us (yet) for a few reasons…

Our work and living situation

Dave and I are both working full time and we live in a one-bedroom apartment. It breaks my heart that my parents work 10-12 hour days and the dogs sit in their kennel all day until one of my parents gets home.  I recently met a fellow dietitian who works in a nursing home setting and she had her dog trained to be a therapy dog. She brings him to work every day! While I would love for this to be my situation, it’s not very likely.

Travel frequency

Another reason we aren’t getting a dog yet is because we’re gone too much. From June 2011 to June 2012 we went to 8 weddings, spent a week in Nashville, and at least every other month we were visiting Dave’s family on the West side of Michigan or mine in Southeast Michigan. We attended a wedding this past weekend and my friend’s husband wasn’t able to come because they got a new puppy and they didn’t want to leave it home alone since it wasn’t potty trained yet! I’d hate to miss out because one of us had to stay home with the pup. Heck, I’d hate having to leave early from an event just because our little friend needs to be let out.

Financial costs

There are quite a few financial reasons why we don’t have a dog (yet). After talking with friends, I found that it can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per year. In my naïve mind I only think of buying the dog and food… that’s all there is to it, right? There is the initial $100-$1,000 purchase, but add to that:

Spay/neuter costs
Doggy bed
Vet visits
Treats/chew bones
Training/training aids
Heartworm meds
Grooming/grooming tools/shampoo
Dental care

Depending on the type/breed, the total cost of a dog who lives to be 14 years old can range from $5,000 to $40,000 from the factors listed above and more. On top of that, who says my dog won’t have hip dysplasia, food allergies, or behavior problems?

Baby time…maybe

There is the possibility of starting our own family within the next year or so. While I love the thought of having a child and a puppy, I’m not too fond of the idea of having to take care of both at the same time. I’ll be staying home instead of working (hopefully bringing in a few bucks through Budget for Health!) so once Baby is a little older then I think it would work out better for us and the pup since we’d travel less often and I’d be home.

Our financial goals

I know the joy I’d receive from owning a dog would be worth the financial cost, but it will have to wait a couple years because the work/living/traveling factors outweigh the financial cost at this point. We do have some big financial goals we’d like to accomplish – one being saving up for a house. If we continue saving like we currently are, we should be able to buy a house next June instead of renewing our lease once again. I hate the thought of throwing our money away on an apartment instead of putting it toward a home, so for now a dog can wait.

What are your thoughts on getting a dog/pet?

This has been a guest post from Jessica. She is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness, and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget For Health.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. It ssems to me that a lot of the issues you listed would be lessened if you adopted an adult dog from a local shelter instead of buying a puppy.

    • That option was considered for a month or so, but I’d still feel bad leaving it at home all day and trying to figure out dog-sitting/boarding arrangements every time we went out of town, which is sometimes a last minute plan!

      • The secret that I’ve discovered is that pets spend much of the time in which you aren’t paying attention to them asleep. Either that or getting into something they shouldn’t! My old roommate had a dog and when I came home from work, I’d usually find him asleep on the stairwell.

        In terms of travel arrangements, the strategy we have is having a go-to person for pet-watching. When we travel, my wife’s friend, who lives three doors down, will check in on our Trident before she leaves for work and when she comes home, along with getting our mail and watering the lawn.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. Dogs cost a ton of money and severely limit your ability to go on spontaneous trips. We got our puppy from a shelter and love her but turns out she has food allergies and has to have more expensive food. Totally worth it though. Good luck making a decision!

  3. Some friends of mine had the same issue with the food allergies. I thought regular dog food was already expensive but not compared to the stuff they get!

  4. Good for you for doing all that research! We’d gotten our dogs as puppies from breeders and paid out the nose for them. English Mastiffs…during their life span(s), I’m sure we spent close to $40,000 on the two of them. And it was tough for me to know they were home while we were at work. But then we had a baby and I became a sahm, the dogs LOVED it! We lost both dogs over a year ago…and just 2 months ago rescued a young adult/older puppy from a shelter. I have a 3 year old a 1 year old and a 8 month old puppy and my days are awesome 🙂

  5. I got side-tracked from my point…sorry – but we used our dogs as guinea pigs and “starter babies” but because they were our babies, we spent $$$$ boarding them at only the most fabulous kennels when we left town on a whim. Now that we have real kids, there are no more whims. Kids and puppy go where we go.

  6. English Mastiffs are huge dogs aren’t they?? I’ve heard that dogs do make great “starter babies.” It would definitely bring my selfishness into the light 😉

  7. I’ve been putting off a puppy for some similar reasons. I really feel we need a yard, even for a small dog, and we don’t have one yet. We’re definitely home enough (Mr. LH works from home), but we need the space before we can get one. Maybe sooner than later, though! On a side note, cats are really easy to care for – we have 3 of them. 😉

  8. Good point- the hubs & I aren’t sure if we want to buy a condo or a house down the road, so our yard size may vary (we want a bigger dog like a retriever). As for cats- I love my sister’s cat & Dave’s parents’ 2 cats, but I just need some puppy love 🙂

  9. My fiance and I have been desperately wanting a dog but have to hold back because our favorite breeds are so high maintenance. My favorite breed is the beagle which have tons of energy and would not be great for our small city apartment. His favorite is french bulldogs which can be left for hours since they’re so mellow, but they are known to have a lot of health problems. We’ve decided to probably start volunteering at the local SPCA so we can get our dog fix while giving back to the community and making sure we don’t get a dog until we know we can take care of one properly.

  10. I know what you mean- we recently got our dog fix when we got to watch a friend’s weiner dog for 4 days at our apartment! I don’t think I’d ever get one myself, but I enjoyed her energy and cuteness.

  11. Dear Jessica,
    You are right to think carefully before jumping into dog ownership. When my kids were small we would often see black lab puppies at the shelter and each time I had to fight back the urge to get one. Fortunately, a good friend told me that I didn’t need a puppy… too much training, too much time, etc. He suggested we get an older dog… and that is what we did. Grover came to us at the age of 3. He was a “rescue” and really, he rescued us. He was an amazingly calm dog and very grateful to have been adopted. He lived for 11 more years and was a wonderful part of our family. BTW, one way we saved money was to trade dogwatching duties with friends. It worked out great. I wish you the best of luck… and do take your time. It is a huge commitment.

  12. Thanks Karen, I think trading dog watching duties is a great idea. Dave and I would love to “rescue” a dog someday (or let one rescue us!) Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. Rescue dogs are worth it! If you get a smaller dog, there are many hotels that will allow you to have them, and if you cratetrain them well, I have even hear of people leaving them in the hotel room while they do the tourist thing.

    It’s definitely a committement that needs to be realized before you under take it.

  14. Good to know! that is an advantage of having a smaller dog. I managed to sneak the weiner dog we were taking care of into an outdoor concert that didn’t allow dogs 🙂

  15. I didn’t grow up with dogs only fish. Actually, I have never owned a pet, but my sister n law has and we have always live next door to each other and shared her dogs. It’s the best was to have a pet. All the fun without all the expense.

  16. A pet has a big responsibility. It entails time, money and love.

    • You are right! I just got my dog around Christmas and she constantly needs to be watched so she doesn’t have an accident in the house! She sure is fun though.

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