The echo of my parents’ voices with their constant chanting ate away at me the day I made the decision to keep Ace. He was only a month when we adopted him.
"Son don’t get a dog, it’s a big responsibility", they said. “Big responsibility, huh!”
Playing with a puppy, feeding him and taking him for a walk or two didn’t seem like a very big responsibility to me.
My desire to own a dog – and a big breed – far surpassed everything my parents said and now I’ve found the second love of my life – my four-legged son, Ace.
Looking after Ace was great during his first week with us. We did a lot of research about what owning a dog involved and what having one meant for our lifestyle and our wallets.
Keeping Ace certainly meant going beyond the basics of running with him in the park – the simple thoughts that had stayed with me right through my childhood were about to be shattered.
While it’s been an amazing nine months since I’ve had Ace, it hasn’t been that great for my bank balance. Having a dog can cost as much as Rs. 15,000- Rs 20,000 each month and a one-time expense of another Rs. 30,000 – Rs 40,000. Here are some tips I want to share based on my experiences that will help you make a decision.
#1. Deciding which breed to adopt or buy:
Deciding which breed you would like to adopt or buy requires a fair amount of research. Dogs with good lineage are more in demand due to their alpha characteristics. Factors like these are taken into consideration when a puppy is being priced – usually somewhere between Rs. 5000 to Rs. 2.5 Lakh.
Always consider a registered breeder to avoid illegal breeding or malpractices. If breed isn’t a deal-breaker, you can always approach NGOs and Government aided organizations who give up rescued dogs for adoption.
Bottom Line: Don’t compromise on price if you’re into the lineage.
Budget: Varies from Rs. 5000 – Rs. 2,50,000 one time
Financial Tip: Start saving as soon as you decide to get a dog. This will help you avoid a last minute financial crunch and prevent your budget from going out of whack.
Within a few weeks of adopting Ace, our yellow Labrador Retriever, we made sure he got regularly checked-up. There was of course, a long line up of injections that he needed to take, each costing approximately Rs. 700, and over a short period of six months.
Since the vet came over each time, he charged us too. Then there are yearly rabies shots and compulsory check-ups after he turns five.
Bottom Line: Keep a good bank balance as this initial period hits you hard.
Budget: First six months in Total Rs. 5000 and Rs. 1000 each year thereon
#3. Supplies, Accessories, and toys:
Our first trip to the pet store was very fascinating, the number of options for toys, leashes, treats and food equaled what they sold in a jewelry store. We went crazy and spent Rs.10,000 at one go. Only later did it dawn on us that this was going to be a monthly affair.
We bought all sorts of treats and toys for Ace including car seat covers and belts, which being of the imported variety, cost a bomb! But I love my ‘son’ so much that I deliberately chose to let go of the fact that my bank balance was near empty.
Bottom Line: A happy dog requires a generous owner.
Budget: Rs.5000 - Rs. 10,000 per month for a big dog, lesser for smaller breeds
Financial Tip: This is going to be a significant and regular expense so be sure to account for it when planning your expenses.
Ace needed a well-balanced diet during his critical months of growth. We were told to feed him kibble from Royal Canine which costs a whole lot more than its counterparts.
He needed calcium and vitamin supplements which aided in his growth along with a daily meal of chicken stew. We had to compromise on our non-vegetarian habits to satiate his.
Bottom line: Giving your pooch the best you can, is totally worth it.
Budget: Approximately Rs. 5000 per month
Financial Tip: Don’t forget to add these costs to your budget
#5. Home sweet home:
We were set up in a fairly large 3 BHK in the middle of an under-developed community in northern Bengaluru.
Even though there was ample space in the house for a puppy to run around, Ace was growing rapidly and taking him for walks was becoming more and more of a problem because of the horrid state of the roads and the two gangs of stray dogs on either side of our apartment.
With the fear of Ace being bitten, getting ticks or even worse – we decided to move. Fortunately for us, we found a lovely apartment complex in a gated setup with 3 separate pet areas and a 1.5 km walkway where Ace could roam freely without having to worry about other strays. Our rent is unusually high, but we really don’t mind as Ace’s safety is top priority for us.
Bottom line: Consider your surroundings and move if necessary. It’s not going to be cheap!
Budget: Probably factor in a rental premium of at least 20%-30%
Financial Tip: You might need to shift homes so this could change your overall budget. Factor this in your calculations.
#6. Owning a car first helps!
Dogs really expect a nice walk or two on a daily basis, but a car ride takes it to a whole new level.
Seeing Ace’s tongue hang out and ears flapping in the breeze during his first ride, made me realize that I was going to have to do this on a regular basis. Having a car certainly comes in handy in an emergency or when you have to visit the vet.
Bottom line: A car takes you and your dog places.
While these instances are based on my own experiences with Ace, it denotes my way of giving him the best.
It’s certainly not what every dog needs - But, if you are a dog lover and want to experience the joy of being with that little furry bundle of joy, having a good bank balance, healthy savings, and an investing habit makes life convenient and way more affordable.
While there is a cost involved but the emotional reward that comes with having a pet, makes the entire effort, financial and otherwise, absolutely worth it.