How much is that doggie in the window? The answer could be a lot more than its price tag. There are extra costs involved in getting a pet that everyone knows – there’s food, vet visits, fancy hoodies for their personal Instagram, but it doesn’t stop there.
The normal expenses you’ve factored in won’t come close if your new furry friend doesn’t care for following the rules. In June, headlines told of an insubordinate German Shepherd called Cyprus who took offence at his owner enjoying eased COVID-19 restrictions and decided to take it out on the furniture, meaning dad returned to a disembowelled lounge suite… that cost $4600.
To learn from horror stories like this, we reached out to some owners whose pets have taken large bites out of their wallet and asked them what they’d do differently.
Audrey the Experimental Beagle
Audrey the Beagle can undo zips, something that her mum, Sue, only realised after Audrey got into a handbag and scoffed a whole pack of Nurofen. “That stomach pump was $500. So was the next one when Audrey ate possum bait in the New Zealand countryside,” says Sue. The rug Audrey ruined after finding the kids’ Easter eggs was around $800, but Audrey causes mischief even when she isn’t expanding her palate. Her knack for playing Hogan’s Heroes means that every backyard requires a couple of hundred dollars spent on fortifying measures.
Learning: If you have a breed known for its problem solving abilities, treat it like a toddler; if something is mouth-size, it will be eaten – even if you think it’s safe. Easter egg hunts are also out of the question.
Gigi the Cat-Toy Loving Frenchie
When your dog is the same size as a cat, you might as well get it cat toys, right? Not really. Tash’s French bulldog consumed a fluffy toy that had a wire inside. The vet gave the choice of either letting Gigi vomit it up or operating. $900 later the wire was removed and even though Gigi was in stitches, no one else found it funny.
Learning: “Ask for advice when you’re buying toys.” Tash was lucky with this one because she had pet insurance and she recommends that all French bulldog owners take similar precautions as they’re known for their health concerns.
Babe the Keyed-up Cockatoo
It’s not just dogs that do damage. Sam’s cockatoo, Babe, apparently got jealous of a new laptop in the house. “I went to the bathroom one day and when I came back Babe had ripped out half the keyboard. The laptop was brand new and repairs ripped me $300. More annoying was that it took weeks to fix.”
Learning: “Pets can’t be trusted with nice things.” If you can hide unsupervised electronics – especially brand-new computers – do so. Also, remember to stop scrolling every now and then and give your pet some extra attention.
Tucker the Staffy/Bulldog/Boxer/Alexander McQueen Critic
When Sylvie was at uni she had to attend a black tie 50th birthday party. As she was strapped for cash and fancy wares, a family friend loaned her a $2000 Alexander McQueen bag. The utmost care was taken, and the bag made it home in one piece, but when Sylvie woke up it was in many. Her mutt Tucker had shredded her new heels, shreds of the bag, and a camera inside. Unable to pay to replace the bag, Sylvie was committed to months of free babysitting.
Learning: “Young puppies don’t care about hangovers or sleep-ins – and will punish you for thinking they do.” Take that puppy for a stroll and go back to bed.
Every pet owner has their own tale of woe when it comes to their pet, whether it’s a greedy guts (and the aftermath) or their uncanny ability to know when something is expensive, borrowed or special when choosing what to chew on. The important thing is to plan for the unplannable.
That could mean protecting your investment (including your beloved pet!) with insurance and saving up a special emergency fund for when the shih tzu hits the fan.