Tag Archives: dog coats

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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How many dog coats are necessary?

How many coats does a dog need? 

I asked Bob, a born minimalist, this weekend if he had a whippet on his own, what coat(s) would he have for him or her?

“Just the green one,” he said. We got this mid-weight Montana Dogware coat from a friend this weekend: 

Soft & cozy coat from a friend

Soft & cozy Montana Dogware hand-me-down

Bob instantly declared it his “new favorite coat!” He doesn’t like walking her in her puffy coat with the leopard collar because it’s too girly. 

“And the raincoat,” he said. Fair enough: to a whippet, raindrops are the enemy. C-Biscuit loves her Chilly Dogs raincoat from Canada:

W braves the rain

C-Biscuit's Chilly Dogs Raincoat

Then he blurted out, “And the cow pajamas! I can’t live without the cow pajamas! …even though we don’t use them that often.”

Uh-huh.

I asked him if he thought the green coat would be enough for zero-degree winter weather we’ve had. He thought about that for a few seconds, fearing the expanding Essential Whippet Wardrobe. Then he said, “I’ve got it! The purple sweater, under the green coat.”

“Purple sweater?” I asked. “Where did that come from?”

Dogs without a lot of fur, especially those with very little body fat, like whippets, really do need coats. I had thought that a sweater and a raincoat would do it, but it doesn’t. She has a puffy coat from Wisconsin for winter weather, and a sweat suit to layer under that when it’s really cold. 

Every garment seems to chafe somewhere, so we have to trade off. 

And, yes, there is the cuteness factor. If Bob gives in to it, anyone would.

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