ERE and Pets

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Spartan_Warrior
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ERE and Pets

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:14 am

(Aka, in keeping with the traditional ERE forum titling trend, "Do we really need pets?")

I've been dating my girlfriend for over six months now, and given that things are going relatively well and we live 30 minutes apart, we've started discussing moving in together--that is, her moving in to my house.

One of the sticking points is our very differing opinion on pets. To me, a non-farm animal is, essentially, an unnecessary expense and liability, an unwanted responsibility, and a burden on my lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I grew up in a house with pets and like cats and dogs as much as anyone else. But I value other things a lot more in life, and to me spending the time and money required for an animal is not something I'm interested in. I enjoy spending time with other peoples' animals, but I do not feel the need for one myself.

My girlfriend currently has a collection of geckos and a bearded dragon (which, I'm not gonna lie, turn me off even more than regular pets, since they seem even more useless--you can't even pet them without washing your hands afterwards). They also have some strict electricity and temperature requirements that seem unnecessarily restrictive and therefore costly--I generally don't keep it climate controlled to 72 degrees indoors, for instance. (They also require keeping giant meal-worms in the house as food, which admittedly skeeves me out a little. I mean, outside would be one thing, but a box of worms under my bed...?)

A few weeks ago, I asked whether she would consider selling the lizards if I let her have a dog. She was ecstatic over the prospect and immediately began planning for said transition. For reference, if it matters, she is interested in a Jack Russell Terrier.

I've made it clear the dog would be her responsibility, financially, and in every other respect. But, let's be honest, if the pet is in my house, it's going to end up affecting me in some respects.

So, I turn to the ERE community. How do you all feel about pets? Do you have any? How much do they cost you? How do you budget for them? How do you prevent them from affecting your lifestyle (for instance, if you want to take a trip)?

And do we really need pets? :)
Last edited by Spartan_Warrior on Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

workathome
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by workathome » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:18 am

Women like little dogs as surrogates for children.

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m741
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by m741 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:57 am

I have a cat. I really like pets and cats are perfect for me (low maintenance, self-sufficient, not needy). The expense is negligible... probably $20-30/month for food and litter (although my cat is relatively young and healthy).

That said, I sometimes feel bad for my cat. When I work long hours or take a vacation, she's home alone. Weekends away she's fine, but if I'm traveling for a week a friend has to come over every other day. Not a big deal, I've never had trouble with that. I'm traveling for 3 months starting just about now, and my cat is staying with friends. What's worried me more than anything about my trip is hoping she'll get along ok without me.

I think if I were to do it all again I'd have waited a few years to adopt a cat. But I'm not upset that I chose to adopt when I did, and I don't think pets are incompatible with an ERE lifestyle. I'm not sure how I feel about non-mammal/bird pets, though. They feel more like a hobby than pets to me... fish especially have little personality.

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Ego
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Ego » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:18 am

Here at my senior apartment complex petri-dish I've got quite a few tenants with pets. Initially when I noticed that the crazy lady who could barely look me in the eye and the mean old guy who was angry at the world were both able to have full, detailed conversations with their pooches, I thought maybe it was a good thing that they had companions with whom they could connect. Certainly nobody else wanted to have anything to do with them.

But then I realized that many of the tenants use their pets to satisfy that very basic human-connection in a way that encourages them to be dysfunctional with the rest of the world. They choose a pet they can control (often in horrible ways) to get what they need. If they didn't have the dog they would actually have to work together with other humans to satisfy that desire. The dogs enable them to be crazy.

Which leads me to one of my favorite stories.... While their dogs enable them to be crazy, their cats actually make them crazy:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... zy/308873/

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jennypenny
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:56 am

We didn't get our dogs until after we had kids and had settled down a bit. I love having them, but I didn't want to be tied down until after we'd had kids and were tied down anyway. When my youngest goes to college, the dogs will be 14 and 13 if they are still around. We've timed it so that the dogs will be gone around the same time as the kids. We don't plan on getting any more. We'll want to enjoy our freedom again.

George the original one
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by George the original one » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:29 am

@jenny - you know the kids are never gone, right?

lilacorchid
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by lilacorchid » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:31 am

When my husband moved in he bought a frog. Useless, noisy, smelly, and it cost more to feed it then two cats eating fancy vet food!

On the other hand, it was his pet, and he had that pet before me. Eventually (like six year later!), he got tired of going out every week in the winter when it was -30 to get crickets for a frog when he could be home, nice and warm with his family. We gave the whole set up to a work friend of mine who gave it to his daughter for her birthday. The frog has a name now, and we got rid of a money sink.

At the moment, we have two cats (one too many IMO) and when my cat dies, we are a strict one pet family. They aren't necessary, but I sure do like it. Google should be able to tell you about how much a dog will cost over the next ten to twelve years. Find a good vet, and decide well in advance how far you are willing to go to extend your pet's life before the emotions start flying.

Like jennypenny, once our cats are gone, we won't be replacing them. Our son will be old enough that we can take him traveling and I don't want to arrange for a cat sitter all the time.

rube
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by rube » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:24 am

We have 2 kids. And they have a hamster.
No need or want for more pets.
The hamster does not cost a lot and is easy to take care of.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:41 am

@Ego:

Holy crap! Scary article.

"Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules."

Well, that explains that! And here I thought the only effect of my childhood cat was an allergy to dander...

@lilacorchid:

"decide well in advance how far you are willing to go to extend your pet's life before the emotions start flying."

Yeah, this is one of the things I've discussed with her. Like I said, I really want zero financial responsibility here, and she seems (at least nominally) on board with that. However, my girlfriend does not make (or save) anywhere near what I do. I asked her what she would do if the dog develops some kind of problem and the alternatives are a $2000 vet bill or putting the dog down. She is apparently under the impression that the particular Jack Russell breeder she's (already) found will take any dog back, no questions asked. I'm skeptical of that. When pressed, I think she said she'd "do what she had to do", but there was enough hemming and hawing for me to worry...

This is one of my big concerns, actually. It's one thing for both of us to agree right now that she will be fully financially responsible, but when the dog gets sick and that $2000 bill comes up that she can't afford, what will actually happen, given that I could (if I wanted) pay that out of pocket from savings? I'm guessing there would be a lot of tension, guilt, and heart ache. Even if she put no pressure on me at all, I would feel guilty and uncomfortable. It's not a situation I relish being in, especially given it's one of those classic middle-class type lifestyle choices where we voluntarily sign ourselves up for it.

champ0608
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by champ0608 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:49 am

I have two cats and a dog, and have had pets my whole life. I really couldn't imagine a good house without a good dog. As far as I'm concerned, the costs are negligible, and should an emergency arise I have no hesitations using my emergency fund to cover the expenses.

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bigato
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by bigato » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:25 pm

In my current lifestyle, all of the pets are there to be useful. The cats chase mice and some bugs, dogs protect the house from people and will hunt any animal that eventually comes here. There is a horse (not mine), that keeps the grass down. Soon there will be chicken for meat and eggs, but also to eat spiders and all other small bugs. I also plan on using then to eat weeds and grass before I cultivate the land.

llorona
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by llorona » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:08 pm

My life lacks color and meaning without a cat. After a two-year hiatus, we adopted a kitten that we had fostered for nearly two months.

Yes, it has been expensive. So far, said kitten had required three visits to the vet, plus the acquisition of one-time supplies (scratching post, leash/harness, cat carrier, etc.). Still, I feel the cost is justified because it's much less expensive than having children (of which we have zero).

As far as medical bills are concerned for emergencies and illness, I am willing to take the same measures to preserve my cat's life as my own. Which is to say, not very far. It's inevitable that we are going to depart this earth at some point, and there's not much point in taking extreme measures to extend the expiration date.

riparian
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by riparian » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:46 pm

Expenses: a lot of it depends on you. If you buy your puppy shots at the feed store they'll be like $40. If you go to a vet for the whole series several hundred. I tend to DIY my own health and my dogs. Chemical meds are the only unavoidable expense if you go that route. I recently put my dog down (he was 18) at home and it was very peaceful and free. Quality dog food that will prevent future medical problems is expensive, but probably under $50/m for a JRT. Some people like to buy a lot of accessories for their dogs but it's often unnecessary.

Lifestyle: yep, you will be tied down. If you're a homebody ERE'r it's all good but if world travel is on your horizon you'll most likely be separating with the lady and her dog. For regular short trips, see if she can find a doggy godparent or a neighbor/friend to trade dog care with.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:13 pm

Thought I'd post some of the research I've been gathering.

http://www.hearst.co.uk/011-87-Cost-of- ... 0-000.html

Lifetime cost of keeping a small dog is estimated at 30,000 pounds. Not sure what that is in US dollars but apparently it's "the same price as a sports car".

http://www.petstew.com/jack-russell-terrier-prices.html

Minimum Cost of Ownership $6,315
Maximum Cost of Ownership $166,775 (!!!!)

Pretty wide variety, obviously depending on how much money people waste, but I'm not even that comfortable with the minimum... That is 3 and a half years of my food budget, or 2 and a half years of property taxes on my house.

http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/20 ... ctive.html

A very eye-opening (for me at least) description of JRTs. After reading that, I'm pretty certain that breed in particular would be very inappropriate for my lifestyle and my expectations of an animal living in my home.

In my ideal future, I would not be tied down by any dependent until I have a kid, which I did not foresee for 10 years or so. I did envision a few years of "vagabond" type travel around the U.S., if not the world, and a dog with a 15 year lifespan, especially a breed that needs constant attention to prevent destructive bad behavior, seems like... um, a bad idea, to put it lightly.

Looks like I'll be having a conversation... :(

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jennypenny
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:11 pm

Toska wrote:I was going to say a JRT is a hyper dog.
+1
I own pit bull rescues but I'd never want a Jack Russell.

I think for a dog I'd estimate $10K over the life of the dog, plus boarding costs if you don't have a reliable sitter. I'm including food, basic equipment, annual visits and shots, and a couple of emergency trips when they are injured or sick. If you need to board the dog, it will need more shots.

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chenda
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by chenda » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:53 pm

I've started to do quite a lot of cat sitting recently for friends. It's a good way to enjoy them without all the cost and responsibility, especially if you do the same cat regularly.

But back to the op, it has to be a joint decision to bring a dog into the household.

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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by jacob » Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:48 pm

I think the biggest issues is not cost (which like children is "as much as you can afford") but the lifetime (the pet's not yours) commitment and lifestyle change (yours, not the pet's). Being a pet owner is not the same as not having pets. At least when it comes to higher order pets (dogs/cats/goats)... not lower order (gold fish).

For example, a pet might save you money because you can't leave for that expensive two week vacation (after a few bouts of kennel fever, you'd probably rather not ...). You might have a better health due to daily walks or simply the statistical correlations between pets and lower blood pressure.

You might also spend more on rent, since the selection of rentals that take pets is smaller than otherwise. Moreso on the east coast than the west. Then there's the whole food and medical issue, but really, that's only relevant if you have a big dog (or a small elephant) or a pet with serious medical issues (why are you keeping it alive again?!); similar to humans.

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dot_com_vet
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by dot_com_vet » Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:11 pm

I do agree it's very expensive, and I consider it my ONE splurge/hobby. I spend about $1k/year on dog expenses on average. It may delay ER one year, and it's worth it to me.

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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Hottentot » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:39 am

I love my dog and will have another one in the end.
I don't care about races and anything. Mongrels are smart, low maintenance and live a lot <3

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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by lilacorchid » Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:34 pm

$166K, LOLWUT That dog has a better lifestyle then me!

And not to be a wet blanket, but if your girlfriend is a spendy pet-person and you are not, she may not be the droid you are looking for. I hope you two can come to a happy solution for the both of you!

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jennypenny
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by jennypenny » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:54 pm

lilacorchid wrote:$166K, LOLWUT That dog has a better lifestyle then me!
Those must be the same people you always hear about who spend $250K on each kid. :lol:

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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:12 pm

lilacorchid wrote:And not to be a wet blanket, but if your girlfriend is a spendy pet-person and you are not, she may not be the droid you are looking for. I hope you two can come to a happy solution for the both of you!
LOL. You may be right. She's not ordinarily spendy, and I really love her a lot, but she's being ridiculously pig-headed about this. Apparently pets are her weakness. I do not want a dog at all. I don't want the responsibility and financial liability right now, and in a few years when I first retire I definitely do not want the responsibility. I want some period in my life where I'm completely free of daily, geographically-anchoring obligations. She doesn't seem to appreciate this, and it's now come out that she doubts if my retiring will "ever happen". (Or won't happen soon enough, or something. She is not mathematically inclined, to the point where she refuses to even look at my numbers or try to understand what I'm saying, so she doesn't seem to understand that "failing" would mean I retire in 9 or 10 years instead of 8.)

The relationship is in bad shape at the moment. I think she's being really childish. I've offered multiple compromises, like 1) if it must be a puppy, waiting until we have kids (and are already tied down, like JP said), or 2) if it must be right now, getting/rescuing an older dog (nearer the end of its lifespan) so it's not as lengthy a commitment, or 3) just doing pet-sitting, dog-walking, or volunteering at a shelter to get the same doggie fix but for free, or net income. I feel like any of these is a sacrifice for me, as I'd rather have no dog. She, on the other hand, won't budge an inch or offer any concession whatsoever. It's Jack Russell puppy or bust.

I don't want to lose hope, I really like her, but things aren't looking good. I never would've expected a (hypothetical) dog could undo a relationship. Sigh.

</rant>

At least all this has come up before she actually moved in. Eh, in retrospect, it's probably childish of me to even post all this, but I need ERE commiseration badly.

George the original one
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by George the original one » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:35 pm

You learn the most about people when the chips are down. Acid-test, so to speak.

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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by llorona » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:53 pm

@SW: Weren't you the one who brought up the idea of getting a dog if your girlfriend would re-home the reptiles?! You can't dangle that in front of her, then retract and call her childish!

Hope you guys can work it out. But if not, you're right -- it's better to find out your incompatibilities now, rather than after moving in together, getting married, etc.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: ERE and Pets

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:01 am

@Illorana: See, that's just it, I never promised anything. To me it was a brief hypothetical discussion. Then, literally the next day, she's all like, "Got a table at a reptile show so I can sell all my reptiles!" And I'm like, Um, okay, but I never agreed to getting a dog...

I can see why she feels somewhat betrayed though. She evidently had the same impression as you. To a long-deliberating INTJ like me bringing up an idea and agreeing to move forward with it are two separate things...

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