Monthly Archives: October 2009

Surprising Dog Expenses

A friend who is getting a dachshund (excellent choice!) is working out her budget and asked me what have been the most surprising dog expenses. An excellent topic for prospective dog owners! Before we brought home C-Biscuit, we bought a toy, a bed, a leash, a crate, a training book and some food. Here are some unexpected expenses that followed:

three in motion on dock

Bare Naked Bitches, C-Biscuit and Picchu, followed by Gentledog Sesame

Collateral Damage: I expected a young dog to chew a thing or two, but I didn’t know this undefined category would cost hundreds of dollars. C-Biscuit alone has destroyed:

  • Cordless phone (and the replacements also have their antennae chewed off)
  • Two $300 cell phones (I could go cheaper if I didn’t need the full keyboard to text my sister every few minutes…)
  • Two $20 pedometers 
  • Two $80 laptop cords
  • Two pairs of leather boots (one cheap pair, and one Via Spiga pair I paid full price for at Bloomingdales, reasoning I’d “have them forever” – UG!)
  • Three pairs of flip-flops
  • Much lingerie, previously something I splurged on before I got a dog and had to switch to the bargain bin at Filene’s Basement
  • Books, magazines, newspapers
  • Firewood, especially kindling – shredded, but still burnable
  • Miscellaneous household items: wooden spoon, hairbrush, hair clips, blanket…

 

Chad, Bob, Whippets

Bob with our friend Chad (left) and the House Whippets in Central Park

 

Vet visits: Sure, I expected an annual office visit and some vaccinations. What I wasn’t prepared for is a dog needing to see the veterinarian a lot more than a cat does (in my experience), and each and every visit, even for 5 minutes, rings up at $85, plus any medications or tests. As soon as we got C-Biscuit we paid $245 for a check-up and shots. Two weeks later she sprained a toe ($118) and then got an an eye infection ($101.50). 

Pick-up bags: Not such a big expense with one dog, but definitely adds up with three. We use biodegradable Dogipot bags, billed as an “economical, no-frills bag,” 200 for $12. We go through about 12 a day – the other day I used 7 on the morning walk alone – at 6 cents each, making about $260 per year…that’s half what my house insurance costs. 

Chew treats: A pet parent needs to use chew treats like a “real” parent needs to use videos. To keep your sanity, you need a no-fail “occupy yourself!” weapon. For us, this is the beloved bully stick.

Moo Bully Stick

Free Range Moo! Bully Sticks: A Pet Parent's Lifesaver!

Our breeder did say no rawhide, real bones, pigs ears… but he did not forbid bully sticks! For the uninitiated, that means dried bull penis. The girls love nothing better (and even Sesame warmed up to them, after initially showing some male solidarity). We buy Free Range Dog Treats’ Moo! variety, which don’t smell (believe me when I say this can be a problem!).

Here’s the scenario: I need to work, the dogs are incessantly rough-housing. Wave around the magic wands, and they obsessively chew them for a good 30-40 minutes. The cost? At least $2 per penis. With three dogs, that means $6 per “episode.” Expensive, but indispensable. 

 

C-Biscuit in Butterfly Sweater

C-Biscuit in a sweater gift from her chic whippet friend Algernon.

 

Dog Wardrobe: Both our Whippet book and the breeder said that a whippet needs “a sweater or a coat.” That turned out to be quite an understatement.

We started with a sweater ($80) and a raincoat ($90). Then realized C-Biscuit needed something much beefier for winter, so we got a puffy coat ($128). The puffy coat wasn’t enough, so we layered it with a bodysuit (fortunately, a hand-me-down from our whippet friends). In the spring, we added a fleece ($49), and a waterproof mid-weight coat ($90).

Now multiply all that by 3 to clothe Picchu and Sesame. I won’t add up what all that cost, but I’m sure it’s more than Bob and I have spent on clothing for ourselves.

Biski & Picchu in fall leaves

C-Biscuit: Autumn in New York

I could go on, but that should give some idea of how expensive dogs get, beyond what you usually see broken down in budgets. And to my dachshund friend, hope this doesn’t scare you off; they’re worth it!

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Dressing to Walk the Dog

When I told my sister Erika I was getting a dog, she commented, “Enjoy those winter walks!” And cold weather is not the worst of it. The breeder had warned us, “Whippets hate the rain. You will come to dread rainy days.”

Shira & Sesame on dock

Why should dogs have all the coats? Sesame and Shira keeping cozy in upstate New York.

Dog coats are one thing (and I do love a good dog coat!), but there’s also, yes, your comfort to consider. In our family, I have the morning dog walking shift. Dog owners know that means de-cocooning from a cozy bed.

If you have a yard and don’t actually walk the dog, not so bad. If you’re urban like us, no matter what the weather, you’re goin’ out there, so suit up.

Whatever you have to do to make those mandatory, all-weather outings easy and comfy, do it. 

Merrell dog-walking clogs

Merrell Dog-Walking Clogs: Not pretty, but worth it!

Shoes: When I visited Erika, who has two beagles, I noted ugly clogs by her door. Just after I yelped, “Yipes!” she explained, “They’re great for going out with the dogs.” Now I have my own ugly clogs, and consider them a must-have. The sheepskin-lined Merrells (the company generously describes them as “folksy”) are part cozy slipper, part hardy boot, which means I can step into them and out onto the street in the cold without any socks, fumbling or lacing. That’s five-star 7 a.m. dog-walking footwear.

Bob & Biski in Boyne

Bob and C-Biscuit: Just out of bed on a chilly morning in Boyne, MI.

Cozy fleece or sweatshirt: My dad gave Bob and me super heavy, zip-up, hooded sweatshirts from his home in Boyne City, Michigan, a ski town that understands the cold. Before that, I had a no-sweatshirts policy, considering them sloppy. Now that I have to drag out of bed to walk dogs, bring it on! Mmmm…cozy. (I do draw the line at sweat pants.) If you want to splurge on a high-quality fleece you’ll look forward to putting on, I say go for it (on sale). It’s a collateral cost of dog-ownership.

Wind-proof Raincoat: When you’re holding two or more dog leashes, you can’t manage an umbrella. Especially in the wind. The dogs had raincoats for a year before I realized I needed one for myself. I used to just get wet. Then this month I got my first rain coat with a hood, and I am in foul-weather heaven! Especially since, thanks to The Catskill Hiker, I discovered the deals on outerwear at Sierra Trading Post. 

Shira and Sesame on Wittenberg

Heaven in a Hood: High quality dog-walking wear is also suitable for mountaineering.

Winter Hat: Last year we visited my dad in Northern Michigan in October. Did we bring deep-winter wear? No, because we thought October meant cool, not gale-blowing, hail-storming frigid. Dad wore a baseball cap and thin coat and took us on a death march while declaring the weather “not so bad.”

LL Bean Shearling Hat

LL Bean's Wicked Good Shearling Hat: "I'll never be cold again!"

 C-Biscuit shivered even in her Wisconsin-made puffy coat, and as I felt the wind cut to my skull, I made a Scarlett-in-the-potato-field promise that I would buy a shearling hat and never be cold again. 

When I got home and found out those hats cost $100, I said, “I can wait until January – they’ll be on sale.” They weren’t. I waited until the end of winter. Still no sale. So this year I find the funds and splurge – especially before our upcoming expedition to Northern Michigan. And may all the winter morning dog walks be warm and merry!

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Favorite Things: Whippet Snippets

 

Ribsy of Whippet Snippets. I covet photos like this!

Ribsy of Whippet Snippets. I covet photos like this!

The premium location for whippets on the web is Whippet Snippets, a classic infotainment blog by a Canadian woman with two narrow dogs, Ribsy and Mirabel. I love this blog so much, I not only check it possibly more frequently than the New York Times, but I went back and happily burrowed my way through 5 years of archives. 

What a treat to share private whippet moments like this, on Whippet Snippets.

What a treat to share private whippet moments like this, on Whippet Snippets.

So it greatly saddened me to see this week that after 5+ years and 1,000 posts, Whippet Snippets will not continue (at least for a while!). Through her clever, generous posts, I have followed this family’s move from enticing Victoria, B.C. to, mmm, less enticing Hamilton, Ont.; through selling their first home and buying a charming new one; their mention of camping trips and love of festivals; their raising Ribsy from a puppy and adding his sister Mirabel 3 years later; their playdates and problems and quotidian joys of life with dogs, and especially whippets.

Some of my favorite moments from Whippet Snippets: 

Synchronized Whippeting: An awesome video billed as “The sisters Mirabel and Daphne enter the final round of Synchronized Whippeting in first place…can they hold onto their lead…and their frisbee?”

Ribsy and Mirabel are always fighting over their beloved frisbee. More envy from Manhattan, where our pack members will only chase something if it's got a tail or is rubbed with liver.

Ribsy and Mirabel are always fighting over their beloved frisbee. More envy from Manhattan, where our pack members will only chase something if it's got a tail or is rubbed with liver.

 

Whippet Snippets on a field trip to the farm!

Whippet Snippets on a field trip to the farm!

 

Priceless Whippet Moment: Ribsy at home in Hamilton.

Priceless Whippet Moment: Ribsy at home in Hamilton.

 

Ribsy's first Halloween: The clever crew of Whippet Air. (Ribsy's daddy is a pilot in real life.)

Ribsy's first Halloween: The clever crew of Whippet Air. (Ribsy's daddy is a pilot in real life.)

 

Ace begging mode. Oh Ribsy, other whippet owners know that despite appearances, you are well-fed, just like the rest of 'em.

Oliver Twisting: Oh Ribsy, other whippet owners know that despite appearances, you are well-fed, just like the rest of 'em.

A consolation: Whippet Snippets is on Twitter! We can continue to follow Ribsy, 140 characters at at time, by following @whippetsnippets. 

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The Whippenberg

 

For Picchu’s second birthday Sunday we went on a mountain-climbing extravaganza in the Catskills. 

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu, on our latest Catskills adventure

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg, cliffy in parts

Destination: Mt. Wittenberg, the most massive mountain in the Catskills, so it is referred to as The Wittenberg.

We were wondering if a whippet pack has ever scaled it before, and in honor of our expedition, decided to re-name the mountain The Whippenberg.

Two nights, three day-long hikes, all meals and accommodations, um, carried by everyone but Picchu.

 

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa whippets

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa dogs

 

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

 

Why the pack wears harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

Why the dogs wear harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

 

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop Wittenberg

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop the mountain formerly known as The Wittenberg

 

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain: "Will a pack member with opposable thumbs please step forward to release my lunch!"

 

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

 

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn, overlooking Slide Mtn

 

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

 

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

 

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home. Next stop: Rockettes audition!

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City Dogs, Country Dog

 

The House Whippets' Border Collie friend at home in the country

The House Whippets' Border Collie friend, Sasha, at home in the country

The House Whippets are urban dogs, but like any New Yorker, they do love a weekend in the country!

 

Especially when it involves a house in the woods, excursions to orchards, and a friend.

 

Shira, Roya and the whippet-border collie mixed pack

The House Whippets practice their "Charlie's Angels" routine, pretending to protect Shira, Sasha and Roya from the nearby fruit trees

 

Divide & Conquer: Bob, Sesame and Biski take one side; Roya, Sasha the border collie and Picchu the other side

C-Biscuit says, "I couldn't help but notice our new pack member is wearing a coat, and it looks like formal wear at that...are we underdressed?"

 

Sasha and Sesame didn't, uh, see eye to eye - they spent the weekend nipping or ignoring each other

Sasha and Sesame didn't, uh, see eye to eye - they spent the weekend nipping at or ignoring each other

 

Sasha says, "Leashes off!"

Sasha says, "Leashes off!"

 

House Whippets say, "Now this is a dog run!"

C-Biscuit (right): "Now THIS is a dog run!" Sesame (left): "I will keep look-out for danger, that is surely all around us." Picchu (back): "Do you still love me, in a green field?"

 

The border collie plays Herd the Whippets!

The border collie plays Herd the Whippets!

 

The whippets say, "Full speed in opposite directions - the collie can't catch us!"

C-Biscuit and Picchu: "Full speed in opposite directions - the collie can't catch us!"

 

Cerberus? Or House Whippets?

Cerberus? Or House Whippets? Country water does strange things...

 

What a hostess: Sasha braves the rain so the house whippets can have, well, the house

What a hostess: Sasha braves the rain so the house whippets can have, well, the house (Sesame isn't so polite. "And stay out!" he says.)

For all of that wide open space and yummy country air, the country getaway had its downsides: thorns that went nearly all the way through Biski’s ears, rocks that ripped Sesame’s thigh, and the ultimate house whippet horror: they were not allowed on the furniture.

Country road, take me home: Same designer as the Brooklyn Bridge, but a much slower pace

Country road, take me home: Same designer as the Brooklyn Bridge, but a much slower pace. (Specifically, 15 mph.)

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Tree Climbing with Dogs

Bob is a major tree climber. He climbs for work, then climbs for fun. If we pause on a hiking trail, it’s common to lose Bob to a nearby tree:

Bob disappeared into this oak tree in no time

Bob disappeared into this White Oak tree in no time

On hiking trips, this is a common scenario for us:

Bob: "There's an amazing view up here!"

Bob: "There's an amazing view up here!"

Shira: "Get back down here, the dogs are going nuts!"

Shira: "Get back down here, the dogs are going nuts!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dogs can’t believe he can go where the squirrels are, and they can’t come. C-Biscuit especially is determined – when Bob goes up a tree, she runs up the trunk a good 6 or 7 feet.

Where the squirrels are: Bob and C-Biscuit attempt a tree climb

Where the squirrels are: Bob and C-Biscuit attempt a tree climb

We’d love to do more climbing together, but who would whipsit?

Bob has roped me into tree climbing

Bob has roped me into tree climbing

Doubleback Harness from Ruffwear

Doubleback Harness from Ruff Wear

Bob’s idea is that the dogs should be harnessed and brought up with us. Until this week I’d thought that was a joke. But our favorite outdoor gear company for dogs, Ruff Wear, just came out with a climbing harness for dogs! Woo-hoo! 

It’s described as a “2000 lbf strength-rated harness built for lifting and lowering in extreme and exposed areas.”

Dog ready to rock climb in Ruff Wear's new harness

Dog ready to rock climb in Ruff Wear's new harness

There’s a video on the site that shows a lab being strapped into the harness – it has leg straps and everything – and belayed up a rock face. Bob’s nearly unheard-of response: “Let me buy it!”

Seeing as the harness is $125 (!) – the whippet who most wants to climb will need to come forward and make a strong case before we get one. And even a climbing harness won’t mean the dogs can follow Bob in every climbing situation:  

In addition to trees, Bob likes to tango with bridges

In addition to trees, Bob likes to tango with bridges

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