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The Dogs’ December Expense Report

Not a whippet - but too cute to resist! (Photo: Montana Dogware)

The Real House Whippets’ December Expenses:

  • Food/Treats:   $154
  • Vet:                      $85
  • Interceptor:      $89
  • Supplies:             $ 6

Total:          $334

Food: I try to keep the dog food around $2 per pound – the 3 whippets together eat about a pound a day – while keeping the ingredients as organic and healthy as possible. The best source I’ve found is National Pet Pharmacy. The NYC House Whippets love Castor & Pollux Organix – they’ll pretty much guzzle as much as we give them. They seem to do really well on that and on Natural Planet Organics, which has made their fur super silky. They also don’t smell at all. Could be the good nutrition, or could be a whippet thing. As the Narrow Dog author said, his whippet, Jim, smells like “buttered toast.”

Picchu (front), Biski and Sesame tackle Avalanche Mtn in Boyne City, MI.

Vet: For Sesame’s annual checkup. Fortunately he didn’t need any vaccinations and Dr. Brown said he seems super healthy. She mentioned he’d make a good model for anatomy class at vet school. Part-time job opportunity?

Interceptor: A six-month supply for Picchu, Biski and Sesame. We order from Drs. Foster and Smith, which has a good price and free shipping. I read once that it’s rude to your vet to get prescriptions elsewhere because that’s part of their livelihood. But with three well-cared-for dogs at Manhattan prices (several times we’ve paid an $85 office visit for a 5-minute consultation), I consider our vet duly compensated and don’t feel guilty saving money on prescriptions.

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The Dogs’ November Expense Report

This is the month I have been dreaming about – minimal expenses for our three dogs!

Shira and the three NYC House Whippets in their ultimate milieu of Central Park.

And we’ll need it, because we’re practically scraping the bottom of the food bag just trying to get to tomorrow to reorder the big bags of dog food (that’s cheating a little on the budget accounting, I realize), and next month we also need to get more Interceptor and take Sesame for his annual vet visit. But, as my hero Scarlet says, I’ll think about that later.

Picchu sunning in Central Park: Priceless

The Real House Whippets’ November Expenses:

  • Food: $28
  • Toy: $8

Total:         $36

Food: Mostly for some canned food to liven up the dogs’ dinner dishes. We combine 2 kinds of dry food (our new favorite is Natural Planet Organics, made from organic, free-range chicken and other organic grains and produce and costs around $2 per pound at National Pet Pharmacy) and then add a couple tablespoons per dish of canned food (our whippets like Wellness Core, which is grain-free, or Newman’s Own Organics), all mixed with hot water to make a gravy. In the morning, they challenge themselves getting dry food out of Kong toys. I don’t mush it and freeze it like Patricia McConnell does, but they might graduate to that some day.

Picchu, Sesame and C-Biscuit chose mud treatments at the Country Dog Spa

Toy: I gave in to a cute, whippet-thin (no stuffing) bunny toy, partly to support a pet boutique we came across in a small, not so well-to-do town in upstate New York. Otherwise, the dogs’ favorite toy remains a firmly-taped cardboard box – especially announced with a doorbell ding from the UPS man – or a paper towel roll with treats trapped inside, or a cracker box they get to “steal” from the wood pile, etc.

Overall, a gloriously low-cost month!

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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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The Dogs’ September Expense Report

Our three dogs were only slightly less expensive this month than last. Here’s the breakdown:

The Real House Whippets’ September Expenses

  • Food/Treats:                   $257

    Play-doh Piggy by Shira

    Play-doh Piggy by Shira

  • Supplies:                             $10
  • Clothing:                           $175
  • Books/Video/Mags:       $106
  • Toys:                                     $48
  • Interceptor/Frontline       $97

Total expenses:                          $693

 

Shira and the House Whippet Packette taking a breather in upstate NY

Less expensive than Disney World: Shira and the House Whippets at a "dog amusement park." upstate NY

Food/Treats: 

We stocked up on Dogswell chicken strips, which were on a great sale for about half-price this month. It was time to reorder the big bags of dry food (our current mix is Wellness, Orijen, and Taste of the Wild). We also buy 10 cans of food a month – the dogs split 1/3rd of a can each night for a gravy.

 Clothing:

Picchu, Biski, Sesame: What do you expect us to do, get jobs? We are Real House Whippets, not working dogs.

Picchu, Biski, Sesame: "We are Real House Whippets. What do you expect us to do, get jobs?"

I feel like I’m back in Catholic school: To confess, or not? Granted, the dogs had all the coats they needed to get through the fall, winter, cruisewear season (I think they call it in the fashion industry…at least they did on “The Bold and the Beautiful”), spring monsoons and any other season that will ever come upon us again. So this month’s clothing expenditure is a total splurge. I did get a discount for ordering coats for the three together, but admit it was still a lot more practical to splurge when we just had the one dog!

A dog who insists on riding shotgun, from the back seat: Priceless

A dog (Sesame) who insists on riding shotgun, from the back seat: Priceless

This month’s lesson: I might have splurged on unnecessary clothing, but… since I’m out walking the dogs half the day, I don’t pay for a gym membership anymore, so really it works out. We work out, all together.

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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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