Tag Archives: dog clothes

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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More Cow Pajamas!

 

Sesame dons the communal dog pajamas

Snuggly Whippet: Sesame dons cow-print dog pajamas by Decotogs

If you want to see a grown, outdoorsy man melt, put a dog in cow-print pajamas.

I am the midwesterner and Bob is third-generation Manhattan, but somehow he is the one in love with our dogs’ cow pajamas.

He has little to say on the topic of dog clothes, except, “More cow pajamas!”

He is the Christopher Walken to our dogs’ Will Ferrell (watch the classic SNL skit “More Cowbell!” here).

Bob walking our whippet in cow pajamas, trying to blend into Northern Michigan

Passing for normal in Michigan: Bob walks C-Biscuit in her cow pajamas

When we got a second whippet, we decided we had to go minimalist on the dog clothing. I was deciding on the basics for a dog’s wardrobe: raincoat, fleece, winter coat.

Bob added, “And cow pajamas!”

C-Biscuit wears her pajamas very rarely, such as when we visited my dad in northern Michigan and the thermostat was set just high enough so you couldn’t see your breath. 

Yet, Bob insists they are a dog wardrobe essential. He has practically been pestering me to order cow pajamas for Sesame and Picchu. His idea for halloween? All three whippets in cow pajamas!

I wouldn’t deny him, except – horror – Decotogs, the Missouri company that makes the dog pajamas, doesn’t have the cow print anymore! All we can do is wait, and hope that there will be… more cow pajamas!

Bob admiring Sesame in the cow pajamas

Sesame: "I am a show dog, not a barnyard animal."

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The Dogs’ August Expense Report

 

Play-doh Piggy by Shira

Play-doh Piggy by Shira

To help other people budget realistically, I’ve decided to include a monthly report on how much the three house whippets cost. Do I really want to publish details of our finances? No, but it’s nothing I haven’t done before, and if it helps someone else with their dog budgeting or decision-making, it’s worth it.

The Real House Whippets’ August Expenses: $762

  • Food/Treats:          $61
  • Supplies:                 $25
  • Vet:                          $85
  • Clothing:               $523
  • Books:                      $68

Total expenses:                $762

Biski and Picchu say, "Wake us when the budgeting is over."

Biski and Picchu say, "Wake us when the budgeting is over."

And now for the notes:

Clothing:

Unusually high: We’ve added both Picchu and Sesame to the family this spring/summer, so we needed to buy them each a fall sweater ($104 for the two) and warm winter coat ($344 for the two). I got both on sale by ordering in August. Sesame also didn’t have a raincoat ($75). Thank goodness whippets are not children and will not be growing out of their wardrobes.

 

Sesame: "Whom do I see about an empty food dish?"

Sesame: "Whom do I see about an empty food dish?"

Food:

Unusually low: Food and treats expense is lower than usual because I had bought two 30-pound bags of food at the end of July. Don’t be fooled: The House Whippets eat, really they do.

Vet:

Unexpected: Dealing with Picchu’s microchip that is practically sticking out of her shoulder. A 5-minute vet visit in Manhattan (“Yes, that microchip has migrated…”) still costs $85. HomeAgain, the microchip company, is supposed to reimburse for at least part of this microchip fiasco. To be continued…

This month’s lesson: New dogs cost a lot up-front, so be sure to budget (as we did, thank goodness) for extra vet bills, start-up supplies, and clothing if needed (if the dog is as thin as a house whippet, clothing is definitely needed!).

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Fashion Hounds: The Well-Dressed Dog

Poncho and C-Biscuit: Some dogs have coats naturally, others need to outsource

Poncho and C-Biscuit in Northern Michigan: Some dogs have coats naturally, others need to outsource

Let’s be clear: Whippets – and a few other select breeds – need clothing. Just last night, as the temperature dipped below 70 degrees and we tried to lounge outside, C-Biscuit stood at the screen door as if to cry, “Let me in! Let me in!”

But buying whippetwear, admittedly, goes beyond the need for protection from the elements. I’m no Paris Hilton, so would never use my hounds as fashion accessories (I mean, not really…), or put fashion accessories on them (definitely not). And yet, there are certain reasons I do enjoy not only dressing them, but dressing them well:

C-Biscuit and Machu Picchu, fashion hounds

C-Biscuit and Machu Picchu, fashion hounds (Sweaters handmade by Greyt Sweaters)

  • They’re busty! Yes, I have become one of those awful parents who pin their secret, lost hopes and desires on their children: At last, I can loudly complain, “It is so hard to find clothes to fit such a big chest and such a narrow waist!” 
  • James Andrew of "What is James Wearing?" with his whippets, Rupert and Nigel

    The Dogs Have No Clothes: James Andrew of "What is James Wearing?" with his whippets, Rupert and Nigel

    They can compete for best-dressed: I’ve never had much interest in fashion, and could never, ever be the best-dressed New Yorker, or even the best-dressed in my building…or even on my floor. But with the dogs, a little effort and expense goes a very long way towards being the most fashionable hounds in town!

  • No malls, No dressing rooms: For the deliciously-shaped sighthound, there is no shopping off-the-rack. Even in Manhattan, the dog boutiques do not stock pret-a-porter whippetwear. The best stuff is all online! All we need is a measuring tape and the Internet, and – fetch! – perfectly-fitting clothes come to us. 
Whippets love new clothing, really they do

Whippets love new clothing, really they do

  • No growing up, growing out, or growing fat: Whippets don’t have the fat gene, so don’t need fat jeans and skinny jeans. If it fits today, it’ll fit in 15 years. So we can invest in nicer clothing, made to last.
All dressed up and ready to go out! (Winter coat by Blue Willow Dog Coats)

All dressed up and ready to go out! (Winter coat by Blue Willow Dog Coats)

  • C-Biscuit in her Chilly Dogs raincoat

    City Slicker: C-Biscuit in her Chilly Dogs raincoat

    Matching shoes not required: I would dress better if I didn’t have to wear nice shoes too. And walk in them, I mean. With the dogs, it’s BYOF – bring your own footwear! (Well, there are the winter boots…and granted Biski has a black-and-leopard print winter coat and sporty red boots, hm…)

  • Support small business: Custom-made clothes for humans are too expensive – and I wouldn’t even know where to go to get them, or why – but bespoke dogwear actually costs the same or less than ready-made, and the money goes to small businesses in a niche of a struggling American industry. So, support the economy, dress your dogs!

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Favorite Things: Ruff Wear Dog Harness

When we got C-Biscuit she would lunge, jump fences and even climb trees to go after squirrels. Whippets have long, muscular necks that are not fragile, but we still hated to see her buck and twist against her collar. So we looked for a harness. 

Web Master Dog Harness by Ruff Wear

Web Master Dog Harness by Ruff Wear

Most regular harnesses don’t fit the deep chest and tiny waist of a sighthound. Plus most are designed for dogs to be pulling forward, so when they back up they can escape. In a squirrel frenzy, anything is possible. Which is why the breeder said, “Please don’t put her in a harness. She can back up and be gone!”

We were then delighted to discover the Web Master Dog Harness ($50) made by Ruff Wear. The company says that “Houdini dogs that manage to get out of traditional harnesses will find it nearly impossible to escape the Web Master.” Which we have found to be true.

The back strap can be cinched around the whippet’s narrow waist, so they can’t back out of the harness. Additional straps go behind the front legs, around the front of the chest and between the front legs. Our girls have worn the harness on long hikes without any chafing. (C-Biscuit’s dog backpack by Ruff Wear has the Web Master Harness as its base layer.)

Picchu in her Web Master Dog Harness

Picchu in her Web Master Dog Harness - comfy, safe, secure

With a snug and secure fit, the harness also has a handle on top to lift the dogs up – that recently came in handy while climbing some steep rock faces on Slide Mountain. Its bright red color means it can double as a safety vest for off-leash hiking.

C-Biscuit has learned mostly to watch squirrels without lunging for them (although when especially tempted, she will still try to scale a tree or fence), so she doesn’t wear the harness anymore. Picchu, though, embarrasses us with her squealing and lunging, and the harness keeps her from potentially snapping her neck at the end of her leash.

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Real House Whippets of New York City

C-Biscuit and Machu Picchu have a disturbingly-lot in common with Real Housewives:

Our house-whippets are blonde and unusually large-chested

Our House Whippets are blonde and unusually large-chested, yet thin

 

They expect a luxurious lifestyle...

They expect to be maintained in luxury

 

They have large wardrobes, which include leopard print

House Whippets of New York City have large wardrobes that include leopard print

 

They stand back and let others do the heavy lifting

A Real House Whippet stands back and lets others do the heavy lifting

 

They have lots of toys, and like to entertain

They have lots of toys and like to entertain (that's their girlfriend Gracie)

 

On occasion, they are known to dress up in costumes

On occasion (we won't say which ones), they dress up in costumes

 

Blurry, amateur photos of them with strange bedfellows tend to surface on the Internet

Blurry, amateur photos of them with strange bedfellows tend to surface on the Internet

 

They know all that is expected is for them to be quiet and look good.

The girls know all that is really expected is for them to be quiet and look good.

How do Real House Whippets differ from Real Housewives? They do not like to get their nails done.

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