Monthly Archives: April 2009

Choosing a Second Dog

In 12 days, we’re bringing home our 2nd whippet, Lexie Picchu!

Picchu”]Meeting LexieBut is she Sesame? We’re just not sure. For now, we’re thinking of her as our “bonus dog.” And keeping her current name.

The breeder where we got C-Biscuit last May has known all year we wanted a second. A couple weeks ago, I got an e-mail entitled “Sesame” with photos of this gorgeous little girl. He thought she’d be perfect to add to our family as our Sesame.

Although she’s a year-and-a-half old, she looks like a puppy. And is just as soft!

Picchu: A tiny and gorgeous whippet!”]Lexie: A tiny but gorgeous whippet!She’s a micro-whippet at only 18 23 pounds (C-Biscuit is 28-30). She came to the breeder via whippet rescue after having been in several homes. I’m guessing she was too cute for families to pass up, but they were probably not up for the hands-on attention (exercise!) that a dog needs.

Bob said he wanted a full-sized whippet, maybe a male, who could be a true partner to C-Biscuit and keep up on hikes. But as soon as he saw Lexie Picchu, she was Daddy’s Little Girl! I loved her, too. We couldn’t imagine letting her go to a home other than ours.

The only complication is: We also met a 2-year-old boy whippet. If it hadn’t been for Lexie Picchu, I’d have been 100% sure that he was our Sesame! I felt the same bond, even seeing his photos, as I had first seeing C-Biscuit a year ago. Plus, he and Biski really hit it off, looking like a real pair, just as Bob and I had always envisioned!

C-Biscuit and the Boy

C-Biscuit and the Boy

They certainly seem to be a pair!

They certainly seem to be a pair!

This is so American, but I really want them both! The boy certainly seems like our Sesame, but the girl is irresistible  – she needs a home and we want it to be ours. Plus, as providence would have it, I had only saved 75% of our target in the Sesame Fund, but since she is a rescue dog she won’t cost anything up front. That brings our budget right in line – isn’t that a sign right there?

As for the boy, he isn’t available just yet, so we have more time to decide. The breeder did say, “Two is a joy, three’s a job.” Gosh. Not to mention an expense. But with motivation and belt-tightening, I’m sure we could make it work.

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Obamas & Bo – Why get a purebred pet

I’m glad that in the end the Obamas got just the dog they wanted, the Portuguese Water Dog puppy. 

The President and Bo

The President and Bo

No doubt the family will be criticized for not rescuing a dog (they say they’ll donate to the Humane Society in lieu of). Getting a pet from the shelter is a great idea, but not in every circumstance. When you know exactly what you’re looking for, as Michelle Obama did after researching, sometimes it’s best to make sure you get exactly what it is you’re after, which might mean from a reputable breeder.

I know this first-hand because I’ve done both. Years ago, after reading Peter Gether’s memoir The Cat Who Went to Paris, I really wanted to get a Scottish Fold cat like the one he had, Norton.  Scottish Folds look a lot like the gray tiger cat I grew up with, Feisty, but have an adorable quirk of folded-down ears. I read three books about Norton, my boyfriend took me to a reading to meet Norton, I really wanted a Norton of my own. I could have gotten one – but they don’t show up at the pound, I would have had to have gone to a breeder.

But my close friend Chad gave me a major guilt trip: “You’re going to pay $200 for a cat, when there are hundreds of perfectly good cats at the pound that need homes?!” Continue reading

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Getting a dog in hard times

Ben Stein was on CBS Sunday Morning last weekend with a commentary urging us to solve any of life’s woes by getting a dog. “People are always asking me how to get through the recession, how to get through aging, how to get through divorce,” he said. “My answer is always the same: Get a dog.”

This certainly seems like all-American advice. After all, as Stein says, “Your dog does not care how much money you have or don’t have.” And then there’s always that bit about the “unconditional love” that dogs offer.

But then, what about the legions of people who have delivered their dogs to shelters recently because they said they can’t afford to care for them anymore? 

Dogs are great, but they do cost. Sure, they don’t need custom clothes and fancy bowls and designer leashes – the things we do to indulge ourselves, not them – but it’s only fair to invest money in high quality food and veterinary care, and to invest time and effort in exercise and training.

I wholeheartedly agree with Stein that a dog can be a panacea for life’s woes. But when the troubles are financial, families need to consider the budget before committing to a new member of the family. 

Here are some estimates of the annual cost of a dog:

  • more than $1400 (American Pet Products Association)
  • $700-$2800 (About.com)
  •  $580-$945 (PetPlace.com)
  • $287-$2485 (Drs. Foster & Smith)

These estimates include food, vet visits, supplies and maybe boarding. They don’t include indirect costs, like property destruction. In the past year, C-Biscuit has chewed up my cell phone (and its successor), home phone, laptop cord, pedometer, two pairs of leather boots, much lingerie … and I’m able to work at home and supervise her 23 hours a day. 

Money shouldn’t dictate everything – if it did, a lot of us would never have kids – and there are ways to keep down costs in tough times. But we should at least think about how much a dog might cost before getting one, and ideally set aside some room in the budget, if not in savings.

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