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DR would say I made an irresponsible decision....


Freedom10

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Ok - I have to confess - DR would NOT approve of what I did, especially given the fact that I'm in debt for medical bills to the tune of 1,700, plus I have no clue how expensive lawyer fees are going to be, potentially in the several thousands but I went ahead and I adopted a puppy.

 

I asked my roommate if I could - and she was more than fine with it. Her parents have a dog that stays with us when they are out of town.

 

I realize that this is a "lifelong" commitment. That I'm going to have to ensure my next place has ample room for a dog - that I have to take care of vet bills and food and this may not have been the most financially stable time in my life to do so, but I had to.

 

Well I didn't HAVE to - but I was SO DEPRESSED. I guess I still kind of am because depression isn't the kind of thing that you wake up one day without. And my reasons for adopting him (he's a yellow lab mix) were entirely selfish, but I thought that having a puppy would give me a reason to keep going. I was getting to such a dark place. About a week ago, I was driving to the grocery store and the thought flashed through my mind that I should just crash my car into the side of the road. That there was no real reason for me to continue to take up space. That I have no family now, I have very good friends, but I'll never have kids - That I will probably die alone in a crappy nursing home, that no one needs me, or thinks I have value. I felt empty and purposeless. I would wake up sobbing, wondering what my purpose for continuing is. That scared the hell out of me, I would NEVER hurt myself (or anyone else) but the fact that that idea even occurred to me scared me.

 

I don't want to feel useless, I don't want to feel as if my life is over and that the best days are behind me and that I traded in financial security for insecurity.

 

So I thought about what actions I could take (alone with talking to my doctor and upping my meds) that would make me feel better. And I thought that adopting a puppy and training him and caring for him would make me feel better, plus I'll get a life long friend out of it too. So even though I've got debt, I went ahead and adopted an 8 week old Lab mix from the shelter. I have named him Levi!

 

A friend gave me a very large crate that I keep next to my bed. I've got a reason to get up in the morning now (and a reason to get up about 2:00 in the morning to go out on a potty break). I've had him for almost a week and I feel so much better already!

 

I work from home now - so I keep him in his crate while I'm working, and he's very good. We go out on potty breaks every 1.5 hours and we play in the morning before I start work and then again during my lunch hour. I went to half price books and got several books on how to raise puppies. I'm going to do this right.

 

I know I'm going to have to pay vet bills, and I will start saving for that. I know this is probably not the best financial decision, but if it changes the way I feel (and it already has, let's face it- who can stay depressed playing with a little puppy?) I consider it therapy.

 

Having someone who needs me, who I can teach things, who is happy to see me helps so much. I'm not alone at night anymore - he's there and that's so comforting. He depends on me to feed him, let him out, play with him, train him. It feels good. And he's stupid cute. I'll upload a picture soon.

 

So dog owners - what do I have to budget for? Right now I feed him .5 cups of puppy food three times a day. In a couple of weeks I'll feed him only twice a day, but up the amount. I've been feeding him Science Diet, which is what Ex and I used to feed our little kitty, so it's not the cheap stuff - but is there really a difference?

 

 

He's going to need to be neutered (he's still too young for that) and in a month I have to take him to the vet for a second round of shots. I'm not planning on going on any vacations any time soon - so I won't have to worry about the expense of boarding him.

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I don't think you made an irresponsible thing. I would call it impulsive, but maybe having the dog will get you to a healthy place. And that makes all the difference. 

 

Just know that you are in a puppy honeymoon. Give it a couple of weeks and then see how you are feeling about taking care of another being for life. Make sure you have resources and support in place. 

 

Last thing, while having a family is an important event in most people's life, it is not the only thing to achieve in this world. I love my family. I am blessed to have an amazing DH and 4 kids. But there are days I wish I was single. Where I didn't have to figure out school, work, extra activities. Where I could just travel or read or do anything I want to do without checking on other people's needs or wants.

 

You have a gift in your singleness. Don't squander it by being depressed. So many organizations need your flexibility and dedication that only a single woman can bring. 

 

Anyways, don't sell yourself short on life. Life is a beautiful gift. Enjoy your cute puppy! 

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Congratulations on your new fur-baby!  May you have great fun getting acquainted and establishing a new routine. I like his name. :)  And he has some great genetics--one of my most favorite dog friends ever had Lab in the mix. (I also love beagles and border collies...)

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I agree with Nicole; it was impulsive, but not necessarily irresponsible. Having pets can be a very healthy thing, and I am sure that Levi will help you in more ways than one. Exercise is a great help against depression, so walking him and playing with him will keep you up and going. Congrats on your new family member!

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Science Diet isn't terrible food, but it's not great. I'd look for a food that has ingredients sourced from the US/Canada and is produced in the US/Canada.  Avoid ingredients/production from China.  If it doesn't say on the label, don't buy it.

 

It's okay to spread out feeding for puppies a bit more (3 times a day) until they're a bit older. They burn through food like crazy (which means they can poop more than a couple times a day).

 

Yes, it was impulsive, but as long as you are able to care for him properly, it was not irresponsible.  I think my dog (as much as he drives me crazy sometimes) is part medical treatment as well.

And I'm really, really happy you got him from a shelter!

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Good for you! I think that will be great for both you and Levi! :)

 

As far as what to budget for? I would say the unexpected. Our "free" Lab mix (that we got from a neighbor when she was a puppy) turned out to have epilepsy that presented when she was 10 months old. Her medicine is now $527 every 8 months or so and she needs blood work done every year to make sure the dosage is still OK. I'd say we spend about $350 per year on her in vet bills/tests/shots. Then there is food (we just use Kirkland), toys, flea/tick medicine, ear cleaning supplies (she has allergies and gets ear infections in the spring/fall).

 

The toys are a biggy. For our last 2 Lab mixes, we made sure to get chew toys each payday - so once or twice a month. Kong and Nylabone items are the favorites in this house along with tennis balls. Our old dog did just fine with the toys and only ever chewed one shoe that I accidentally left gated in with her as a puppy. Our younger one chewed a lot (MANY sprinkler heads, wood trim, sticks, kids toys, etc.) I had to spray cheap perfume on things daily to keep her from chewing them up once I replaced them. It seemed to be the only thing that worked for us. 

 

Congrats on your fur-baby!

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Ok, I'll give my opinion as both a pet owner, a former pet rescue owner, and a vet tech.

 

You made an emotional decision. That doesn't make it a bad one. I was depressed for months to years lately and truly, my pets were one of the only things to get me to have to be responsible to another living being and to get outside each day. Also, a young dog will help you meet new people. Think puppy/obedience classes, walks, dog parks. People are good!

 

Yes pets can be expensive. There's a base expense and then there's the moon. Only you can decide and set limits on that cost. I recommend getting pet insurance and/or starting to put money each month into a vet expense sinking fund. Because stuff WILL happen, especially to a young dog, and veterinary care is expensive -- especially emergency and high-quality care. Check Trupanion -- they are by far the best pet insurance company around. Get Levi enrolled as a baby with no pre-existing and it is likely to be quite affordable (compare with a $4K vet visit for a foreign object surgery ----sooooo common!)

 

- Items to include:

 

Food (Science diet is junk. It is full of fillers and they will poop TONS. Do NOT feed raw. It is not better and is full of bacteria. Don't get sucked into the organic/limited ingredient/woowoo world (aka don't go to Mud Bay) Basic quality dog food is fine. Kirkland (Costco) brand is actually high-quality. 2 separate sources I trust implicity have researced this and both came to the conclusion Kirkland is the best on a quality to cost ratio.

 

Poop control: a good scooper if you have a yard. Pet waste bags if you don't. I've found that Dollar tree carries pet poop bags , 120 for $1. Or a 75ct pack of diaper bags (essentially the same) for $1. By far the best cost.

 

Toys: the sky is the limit here. Be very careful until you find out what kind/severity of a chewer you have. Some dogs gnaw, some destroy, some like to swallow things whole. Toys, rubber, wood, cloth etc can all be problematic. Rawhides/bones can be choking hazards or swallowed in large pieces needing surgery. Monitor him closely until you know his habits. Something to fetch, something to tug, something to chew are all you really need. But if you want to spen $200+ on toys, that's totally doable too.

 

Training: Get a good puppy class so you can learn good habits along with him. Sounds like you already have a crate, excellent. Great for puppy training, travel, control, and exposure to what happens at vet clinics. Treats, leashes, etc fall into this category.

 

Vet care: Get him into a vet ASAP if you haven't had an initial visit. Shelter/foster/random guy in van/breeders all have varying amounts and quality of veterinary care. Get that puppy in so that a trained professional can evaluate him AND his prior care and get a vaccine/deworming/flea/heartworm program laid out. 8 weeks is NOT too young to neuter, although there are differing thoughts on that. I can't believe a shelter adopted him out without neutering, that's terrifying and puts me in question of their entire veterinary care. If you don't have quality vaccines in a specific schedule, the puppy is at risk of a number of catastrophic diseases, its best to learn about these and the preferred schedule from your vet.

 

Also: do NOT take this puppy into public until he is 4mo old and has completed his vaccine series. No dog parks, no pet stores, no obedience classes, etc. He will be exposed to other dogs with less responsible owners that have unvaccinated dogs and potentially give him dangerous or fatal diseases. Obviously this is very bad for him and also for you, as he is a kind of emotional support for you.

 

Ok, any other q's I am happy to give advice on.

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This is one of those things where I'm pretty sure Suze Orman would go into her "People first, then money, then things" motto. 

 

I feed my dog Purina One Beyond. It's not the cheapest stuff either, but it's cheaper than Science Diet. My dog was having major problems with allergies when she was younger; the vet thought it might be the grains in dog food. She was always chewing on her paws and they were raw. Purina One Beyond does not have corn or gluten, and she has not had the allergy problem since switching to this food a few years ago. 

 

Do NOT use a retractable leash. They are dangerous. If you need to pull your dog back, you can't grab that little string, ESPECIALLY if they are in the middle of rushing it out to full length. It WILL slice right through your skin. I have a friend who got a nasty slice on the back of her leg when my dog ran towards something and the string rushed out along her leg. Get a leash that is good quality. I have a 6' leather leash and, for when it's dark, a 4' Kong leash that has reflective threads in it.

 

The toys that have held up best for my dog (she's a mystery mix) are Kong toys and these dragon toys that are built strong. They're about $15 for one at a pet store, but Costco sells them in a 3-pack for about $18.

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Thanks for all of the advise guys! This is a learning experience for us both and I think we are enjoying it a lot.

 

He's so much fun to have around! We play and work on training. Our backyard is fenced, but I've been starting to get him used to a leash - so I put the leash on him for a little bit each day and we walk around the yard together.

 

I did take him to the vet last Saturday. They allowed me to adopt him because I promised to get him neutered when he is old enough and I will for sure have that done.

I've also decided I'm going to get him microchipped at that time as well.

The vet said his dewclaws are very tight which is good, so if they don't pose a problem then I won't bother having them removed. I've heard that people who run with their dogs often have them removed - and I do plan to run with him, but I don't want to remove them if it's not required for his health.

 

I take him back to the vet in three weeks for his final set of shots. After that I can take him out in public. Next Saturday I give him his second de-worming medicine - the vet gave him his first series when we saw her and gave me a syringe to give him the next dose on my own.

 

I had no idea science diet was junk. I'll let him finish this bag and then we'll get some Costco food.

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Be sure to get the Costco food in enough time to mix it gradually with the old food. I learned the hard way when I was younger that switching too quickly can have uncomfortable results for the dog and MESSY results for the owner. I'm glad you are enjoying him so far!

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Yes, when you switch food, definitely do it gradually (over 5-7 days, depending on how the pup tolerates it).

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