538 comments

Great News! Dog Ownership is Optional!

wolf_brotherIf you were to show up and gaze down on our planet as an outsider, you could easily get the impression that Dogs run the place, and we Humans exist only to serve their needs.

We provide them with shelter, transportation, medical care and even grooming, in most cases going further into personal debt to do so. We devote millions of acres of our farmland to raising other types of animals which we then slaughter and chop up and feed to our dogs. We even follow them around with plastic bags so we can pick up their excrement while they tug impatiently on the harness, urging us to hurry up so they can continue their guided tour of the city.

Now, don’t get me wrong – this is just what some visiting aliens would think. You and I know the real reason we have dogs. It’s because of our deeply shared evolutionary roots.

huntersIn episode 2 of the splendid science miniseries Cosmos, the host Neil Degrasse Tyson starts up a campfire and reenacts the fascinating tale of how dogs first joined our family circle. Living as pack hunters ourselves sometime within the last 40,000 years, we started noticing that some of the less wild members of the wolf packs surrounding us could actually be useful and trainable. And the group-based nature of our two species meant that they had some of the same social instincts as us, meaning they could become warm companions as well.

So was born Man’s Best Friend, and we enjoyed the help of domesticated wolves even as we selectively bred them into the hundreds of occasionally cartoonish variants known as dogs that we see running around today.

All of this has made perfect sense over almost all of these subsequent millennia. Most of human history has been spent in the wild, trying to stay alive and produce children that could do the same thing. More recently we moved onto farms, living a much easier life but still one with plenty of wild outdoor space, sheep that needed herding and henhouses that needed protection from foxes. On a worldwide basis, roughly half of us still live out in the country (in the US this figure is down to 19 percent). So there is still no shortage of good homes for dogs.

But at the risk of making myself the target of serious anger and hundreds of rational-sounding justifications, I wanted to point out something that seems to have been forgotten by people in my generation and younger. It’s just the plain, perfectly happy and non-judgmental fact that

Dog Ownership is Optional.

My experience might be partly influenced by living in one of the Mountain states, but it seems dog ownership is absolutely contagious around here. Young single adults will adopt a dog shortly after graduation. One dog often leads to another. Young couples will move in together and blend their dog families into one household, Brady Bunch style. Child-raising families have dogs. Older people have smaller, yappier dogs.  When I go out for a walks, I’m often the only one not walking a dog or three.

And this is before we get into the fact that as a society we have gone batshit crazy. When I first published this article I got hundreds of slightly-to-very upset comments from dog people accusing the article of being very anti-dog (it is not – I am saying they are optional, unlike car clown behavior which is never allowed). And then I got about a dozen private emails in support of the idea of a slight reconsideration of our attitude toward dogs. These people were actually afraid to put these comments out in public, because the dog people are so sensitive! As one reader wrote to me privately:

I feel as though the whole ecology of the US has changed in the last 10 – 15 years due to the extreme increase in ownership of dogs and cats, but also the extreme anthropomorphism of those same dogs & cats.

The dog examples in our area include debt over chemo treatments for dogs (and crowdfunding for this too), portraits of dogs (oil and watercolor of course), bronzed dog busts, dogs in strollers, dog spas & hotels, dog bakeries, dog clothing & costumes, toe nail painting for dogs, lavish pet cemeteries, and now people being upset if they don’t receive dog sympathy cards for their death.

All of this is overwhelming for people like me who actually like animals and see their
 amazing abilities to help the disabled or do great work on a farm, but feel that there should be limitations as well. And as you have found out the vitriol that these pet owners have toward any “voice of reason” is quite loud.

I’m not denying the benefits of dogs. We all know that they bring companionship, hardship, activity and even healthy germs and microbes into our homes. But I think the benefits are generally understood, while the downsides and costs are vastly underestimated.

When you’re a young and otherwise unencumbered adult and you adopt a dog, a huge chunk of your freedom is gone. Instantly, just like that. Suddenly you have a very short leash pulling you back to your house. Your new friend needs to be fed and walked. Did you meet somebody special and want to spend a few days with them? Need to fly somewhere to visit family or take a vacation? Sorry, you’re already out past your curfew and the dog is lonely at home.

For people who tend towards loneliness or introversion and who prefer to be at home most of the time anyway, this could be perfect. But for those with other time-consuming aspirations, it is worth considering what you are giving up to get this nice dog time. After all, every activity is a tradeoff that forces you to give up some other option. You enjoy caring for the dog. But is there something that brings even more happiness through personal growth that you would enjoy if only you had more time?

dogtown2When you are shopping for an apartment or a house or a car, the dog completely changes your decisions. Most landlords don’t accept dogs, because (as I can attest) they shred wood floors, carpets, decks, and gardens. You’ll pay more for rent, tend to buy a house further from work, and are also more likely to choose a larger car or even a truck. How will you take your dog across town on a bike? It can be done by trailer, but not many people advance themselves to that level.

Dogs often create a burden on everybody else. One barking dog can ruin a day of work or a night of sleep for 50 households around you. Even well-picked-up dogshit leaves a smear in the public park grass that gets on the picnic baskets of others or the bare feet of children, and then there’s that certain percentage of people who don’t even think it needs to be picked up at all. Dog piss kills plants and grass in front yards as dog walkers cheerfully stroll past by the dozen.

All of this comes at a financial cost that is usually underestimated. People tend to think of a big, cheap bag of dog food and assume that’s how much it costs to raise a dog – just like they quite wrongly use the cost of gas as an approximation of the cost of driving a car. In reality dogs come along with housing, transportation, kennel space, medical care and sometimes even grooming and entertainment costs. The millions of square feet occupied by pet stores is proof of the billions of dollars we spend on these friends.

Sure, it may well be worth the cost to you. But it is definitely worth reminding yourself of all the costs. Because it translates to a cost of your own freedom, which is really a way of subtracting years for your life. Let’s consider the average case:

The median US household has an income of around $51,000 and a savings rate of 5% ($2550). They are also very likely to have a dog, which averages about $2,000 per year if you amortize in the various medical emergencies and one-time costs. But the cost is much higher if the dog also influenced their housing choices or their decision to drive an Outback or a Tacoma or a Tahoe or worse.

Some friends of mine like to travel for two months out of every winter, leaving the pets at home. Without pets, they could easily rent out their beautiful house downtown and bring in $5000 to fully fund those two months in the tropics. Instead, they now struggle to find a house/pet-sitter willing to stay in the house for free. In this case, that $5,000 per year should be added to the total annual cost of the pets.

Despite the manageable-sounding numbers, this is a big deal. A savings rate of only 5% translates to a working career of 66 years, while saving just that extra $2000 brings you to 9%, which means you are financially independent in a slightly less ridiculous 54 years. The average dog family extends their mandatory working career by at least 12 years. Adopt two big dogs and use them to justify a big truck, and you’re instantly up to twenty years extra, workin’ for the man, three weeks annual vacation, conference calls from the cubicle, carpal tunnel syndrome, hope they don’t cancel that pension plan.

At this point in the discussion, we usually arrive at “But I love my furry friend! I wouldn’t give him up for any price!” … 

… and that is exactly the point. Because statements like that mean that all logic has gone out the window. Emotion has taken over the driver’s seat in your life while you are hog-tied with duct tape in the back seat. And emotion is a terrible driver, as you can see from the life path of the American middle class consumer. So think before you drink: Just like children, it’s hard to give up dogs once they are part of your family.

It is very easy, however, to postpone the formation of that family until you are truly ready for it. Financially independent with a nice roomy shabby chic house out in the country, with half an acre of your own organic produce, a nice craft brewery in the garage, and paths and forests where the dog can run free. Even ten years into financial independence myself, I still marvel at the life of dog owners and remain eternally thankful that the adoption of these creatures is completely optional.

And Now For a Completely Different Perspective

Over the summer, I had a discussion like this with my two older sisters, who are both dog people. While they do live in the country, the differences run deeper than just geographical suitability. One of them took the time to write me a counterpoint to explain what it feels to be a proper dog person. So as an offset to Mr. Money Mustache’s typically insensitive and one-sided rant, here are her own words:


——
Good News on Dogs
by Sister MM
 

Good news: You don’t need a dog. Or much of anything, really, but nobody wants to live in a white featureless box eating fortified pablum, so we add things. For some people, the benefits of dog ownership are more than worth the expense. It very much depends on the person and the situation.
In some situations a dog is worth the price.

Therapy for the socially odd:
People are large wild animals. For some of us more than others, dealing with other people is complicated and stressful. It can be rewarding, but it takes work. Dogs give us some of the same benefits, with orders of magnitude less stress and effort.
I felt I made some breakthroughs in dealing with other humans when I started living with dogs. My closest friend was my sister when growing up, and my parents were not overly sociable . I get along with other people very easily, but don’t tend to connect with them. Dogs were quite helpful to me. In addition to the relationship with the dogs themselves, dogs provided opportunities to connect with other (often, lovely socially odd) people over a common interest.

Confidence boost:
When dealing with a dog, you are always on top of the power ladder. It’s not inconceivable that this could change your biochemistry, to make you more confident in your dealings with others. When your brain, for some reason, wants you to fit into the bottom of the pecking order with other humans, isn’t it a relief to go home and have a creature around who needs you to be the strong one?

Human substitute:
When you have a companion animal, you can build a detailed mental representation of the mind of a another creature, as we do with humans.
You have somebody to talk to. (They don’t understand or answer. We don’t seem to care). You can communicate a fair bit just with body language. They are a source of physical affection and touch. Some people need a lot of this, some people just need a bit. You can spend decades finding a mate. You can get a dog now.

Child substitute:
Taking care of somebody or something else is, for many people, very rewarding. It is one of our strongest instincts.
We laugh at dog owners treating their pets like children, but could happiness be defined, in a way, as the opportunity to express our instinctive behaviors? We don’t have 12 kids the way our great-grandparents did.

Animal husbandry:
A lot of us come from long lines of farming folks. Having animals around feels instinctively right. As vestigial, and yet as true as the beauty of flowers or birdsong.

Adventure excuse:
Most dogs are always up for an adventure. People with a high drive for adventure can’t always find other people who are up for it at any time any day. Their obvious enjoyment of high adventure makes us step out the door more often.

Interesting subject for study
Dogs can be studied. They enjoy it. You can look at them, think about them, devise training ideas for them, experiment, and they enjoy every minute of it. They are fascinating creatures.

Own a piece of physical perfection.
Training performance in a super athletic dog is fun. For a little bit of money can buy a dog with the canine equivalent to an Olympian’s body. You can watch the muscles grow and see the exquisite grace in motion. We ourselves don’t have the genetic potential for such perfection. It’s easy to buy a dog that has it.

Fitness:
Some people can’t motivate themselves to exercise. They can motivate themselves to exercise their dog. Oddly, for many people it is easier to get out the door when somebody else’s health or happiness depends on it.
Super athletic dogs are an extreme case. I know quite a few people who have vastly improved their own physical fitness, in order to be a more useful part of a skijoring team. The transformations are startling. Imagine that you find yourself competing in a two-man team sport with an Olympian as your team mate. Your team mate loves to compete as much as life itself, and doesn’t care how slow you are. Would you not start to feel a little embarrassed at your lack of fitness? Would you not soon start devising a training programme for yourself? It happens all the time.

Now that I have a family, my dogs are not as important to me as they were. I could say that I don’t need dogs now. They are a luxury that we can afford. They make our lives more complicated and more unusual, which is sometimes a good thing.

 

— Sister MM competes in skijor races and once trained a dog to retrieve beers from her fridge on command. She is also a maple syrup producer, engineer, musician and mother who lives in the woods with her family.

Epilogue: Lots of emphatic comments on this subject as expected, but one point is coming up often enough that it’s worth putting right here: people saying “Kids are optional too! At least Dogs are cheaper and easier than those troublemakers!”, or some variation on that theme.

You are definitely right – kids are worth considering even more carefully than pets. Here’s an article on exactly that, and in fact the title of this article is a play on the title of this older one:

Great News: You’re allowed to have only one Kid!

  • Mrs DebtFreeJD September 8, 2015, 8:49 am

    Great News! International vacations are optional!

    As a young,urban professional myself, I am frequently stunned at the vast sums my fellow yuppies spend on international travel (a line item which I see Mr. MoneyMustache himself has on his budget and has not criticized on this blog (to my knowledge)). Astonishingly, despite not achieving financial independence, these people voluntarily spend thousands of dollars to waste hours confined in teeny tiny seats in a metal can with freezing air conditioning and atrocious food options while they fly across continents and oceans causing enormous environmental destruction in the process. AND THIS IS THE BEST CASE SCENARIO! The worst case scenario involves such things as Many-Hour-Long-Flight-Delays and Being Re-reouted to Wichita-At-2AM. Unlike earlier (and perhaps wiser) generations who were happiest spending their free time socializing with their neighbors, perhaps with an adult beverage or six, these people spend vast sums on on sampling “authentic” exotic cuisine while contracting food poisoning or hiking through “untouched” rain forests, much to the distress of the local flora and fauna.

    This is not to actually knock international travel. Do whatever floats your boat. However, I’m tired of seeing people knock dog ownership as an Unnecessary Expense while speaking of international travel as an Invaluable Thing That Must Be Experienced to Live a Meaningful Life. Enjoy your freedom with international travel if you so choose. Around here, we’ll stick with our pup, which may decrease Freedom, but increases the Love.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2015, 1:14 pm

      Agreed – international travel (for tourist-style vacations) is way overdone and a completely optional and unnecessary part of life.

      On the other hand, you could make a stronger case for living in more than one country and actually doing work there, becoming part of another culture, and things like that.

      Reply
    • Tara C September 8, 2015, 7:40 pm

      I hate traveling too so the dogs are not a hardship. They are an extra cost but way cheaper than kids and to me much more enjoyable.

      I dislike irresponsible pet owners and parents alike so I strive to be as courteous and thoughtful of others when I take my dogs out in public.

      Reply
  • Bryan September 8, 2015, 9:13 am

    I have noticed that many of our tenants that have had difficulty paying the rent were dog owners. We of course discovered this after the fact when their lease clearly stating pets were not permitted.

    Perhaps there should be a minimum income standard or rule people must follow before they are allowed to adopt or purchase their dog? Questions like are you saving at least 20% of your income? Do you have $3,000 per year discretionary income to support your dog for 15 years. I am guessing this probably would not fly…..

    BTW – we are animal lovers and have cohabitated with both cats and dogs over the years.

    Reply
    • RarinToGo September 8, 2015, 10:29 am

      I wish this was the case! Or some sort of questionnaire that amounts to “How much do you think this dog will cost you per year? Over its lifetime?” etc etc. Or, maybe we could look debt:income ratio!
      As someone who feels a deep connection to canines, it just hurts to see someone with 3 pets who can’t pay their rent, their utilities, or their credit cards. It hurts to see people who have the money to “afford” it but can’t take their dogs on a walk or spend some actual quality time with them. It hurts when dog owners don’t understand dogs.

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    • Cristie September 8, 2015, 11:30 am

      As a responsible dog owner, it seems to me like you’ve got that backwards. Those most likely to gouge you on the rent are also the most likely to flagrantly violate their lease restrictions such as having disallowed pets. Whereas responsible/ethical people wouldn’t rent in a place where they couldn’t have their pets legally in the first place.

      Reply
      • Kenneth September 8, 2015, 11:40 am

        Could it be so simple to filter responsible/ethical people as looking at their FICO score? That may not be the end all and be all, in all cases, but my experience is mid 700s and up correlates to responsible people, and below 600 to irresponsible. High correlations.

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  • Mary Ellen September 8, 2015, 9:27 am

    Sister MM missed one point on dog-ownership. They don’t just make you exercise every day, they make you spend time outside, regardless of the weather. When we adopted a dog in our mid-twenties this was a fact that was annoying at first, but that I quickly began to love. Being outside even in terrible weather has physical and mental health benefits beyond just the exercise. Now that we have been going on walks at least once a day for nine years we have two small children who enjoy walking miles with us, and my seasonal affective disorder is also almost entirely ameliorated. I think that now we will continue to walk daily in all weather even if we don’t get another dog, but without the dog we would not have started. So we should add that to the tally when we think about the costs and benefits of owning a dog.

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  • Brandon September 8, 2015, 9:37 am

    You are always right on the money, MMM. I’ve been expecting this post for years. I grew up around animals all my life and I could never see the real benefit of owning one. Sure I heard all the regular lines, “he’s a great companion when I’m home alone”, “I need a watch dog to keep me safe”, “he’s just sooo cute!” In reality, all I ever saw were these owners being burdened. Never mind the cost of keeping it alive, the cost of lost opportunity was super high. They would have to rush home in the evening to let the dog out (it’s probably already crapped on the floor). They can’t stay the night because they need to get home to the dog. They can’t take a vacation, for a week or even a weekend, because they have no one to watch the dog. Then travel is more expensive if you do take the dog. You can only stay in dirty ‘doghouse’ motels since they are the only ones that will allow a pet and usually for an extra $10/nightly fee. You have to stop and ‘walk’ the dog in hopes it will crap on someone else’s grass instead of in the car where you have to smell it. Never mind the fact that the dog will provide no benefit to you on this trip. It’ll just be in the backseat stuffed in a little crate.
    I look forward to meeting you someday, MMM.

    Reply
    • The Vagabond September 8, 2015, 9:45 am

      You’re being intentionally hyperbolic, right?

      I’m operating under the assumption that you know that:

      * dogs are capable of bladder control
      * Lots of very nice hotels allow dogs
      * It’s possible to take a vacation and leave a dog with friends or, if need be, a dogsitter (We’ve traveled over a month of this year so far and have two dogs)
      * Dogs are enriched by travel too, and most dog owners would argue that their presence alone is a benefit

      In the end, it’s totally fine that you not want to own dogs- it’s completely an individual decision. But to conclude that just because MMM agrees with you, that it’s the last word on the subject is just silly. MMM, like all of us, has his areas where a little extra expenditure is worthwhile (MMM Jr., International Travel, and others), and we have ours (For me it’s my dogs and travel).

      The argument is that dogs are *optional*, not that they are prohibited. I have opted to have one, you have opted not to, and that’s fine, because our respective decisions make us happy after having considered all the factors.

      Reply
  • Anne Lutz September 8, 2015, 9:44 am

    Any one else think a dog must have abused MMM as a child?

    There’s just a slew of non-fact based opinions in this peiece.

    The core fact that (1) dog ownership is optional and (2) they’re more expensive than people imagine is true.

    But being a grinch about people’s pets is just weird.

    PS. If it wasn’t dog poop on your kids feet it would be racoon poop. Get over it.

    Reply
  • Dude with Dog September 8, 2015, 9:48 am

    The key is that when “having a dog” is part of a consumerist mentality of chasing the American dream, you wind up with people having dogs for the wrong reasons, people spending far too much money in the “pet industry,” and overall less healthy/well-off dogs. Dogs are not substitutes for children, but they are all too often treated as living stuffed toys to acquire and infantilize as some sort of check-the-box of “making it” in the United States.

    I agree with this post because I think far too many American homes have dogs when it is neither in the best interest of the family nor the dog. The vast majority of dogs in America are grossly under-socialized and under-trained. The vast majority are not good fits for the needs of the dog nor the family – whether it is due to cost, lack of proper time to care for the dog, or placing a dog with “working dog” genetics and instincts in an American home environment that is wholly inadequate for the mental and physical stimulation that dog needs on a daily basis.

    I say this as someone who loves dogs and has dogs. I say this as someone who works with future assistance dogs and knows what working dogs are capable of. I say this as someone who has worked in shelters and provided “adoption support,” and still believes that we-as a society- have a moral obligation not to kill healthy animals who owe their existence (and often their poor manners) to negligent humans.

    Reply
    • JessDarb September 8, 2015, 2:54 pm

      Great comment! It makes me sad, both as a Mustachian and a childfree person, to see people checking boxes off on the “making it to-do list” of the American Dream without putting thought into it. All it leads to is unhappy and financially strapped parents/dog owners and neglected children/dogs.

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    • EarningAndLearning June 26, 2017, 1:13 pm

      That is so true that dog ownership is just another side of consumerism. And focus on “breeds” is just like focusing on “brands.” People become identified with the breed of dog they prefer, and project qualities onto the dog that are tied to the breed. Obsession with breed has led to inbreeding of dogs which hurts their health and quality of life and costs dog owners lots in vet bills. Stick with mixed breeds or better yet — consider the financial and time costs and opt out of dog ownership. Dog share with your friends and family, they need and appreciate the help, trust me!

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  • Colby September 8, 2015, 9:54 am

    Great article even as I have 2 dogs laying at my feet while typing this. MMM, have you considered going vegan? This line seems like you understand the underlying problem:

    “We devote millions of acres of our farmland to raising other types of animals which we then slaughter and chop up and feed to our dogs.”

    I recently started a challenge to get rid of meat and dairy in my diet, and I think it would be fun for your family to try the same challenge. There isn’t a single realistic benefit to eating animals, and a lot of negative consequences (environmental, cost, sustainability, health, cruelty, etc.) It’s something to look into, I know you like to expand your mind with new information.

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    • The Vagabond September 8, 2015, 10:06 am

      I’ve been experimenting with vegetarianism for a little over a month now. I don’t think I’ll probably ever end up vegan, but my motivation in cutting out meat has been for purely compassionate reasons- I had been more and more troubled by being responsible for the suffering of animals that I believe have a consciousness, even if I don’t understand to what extent. It’s been really challenging, because I honestly really like meat… but I’m working on it.

      Reply
    • josh September 8, 2015, 10:29 am

      I am well acquainted with the negative consequences of ” meat” (and despite it’s badassity, MMM’s paleo diet is an absurd 1%er luxury that is impossible at global scales-which makes it’s use as an anti-dog argument comical) , but I’d really like you explain your basis for the obviously false assertion, “There isn’t a single realistic benefit to eating animals.”

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      • Colby September 8, 2015, 10:41 am

        Meat doesn’t contain any essential nutrients, meaning there is no point in eating it if we don’t have to. Meat is linked to many of the top causes of death in the US, mainly associated with obesity (heart disease, cancer, etc.). If you look at research done on different diets in different civilizations, societies with heavy meat consumption have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Now I am not claiming that if you eat meat you will get cancer or be fat, but there is clearly a higher risk associated with meat consumption vs being vegetarian or vegan. Meat can be part of a healthy lifestyle, however that is if you ignore all the non-health related consequences:

        1. A large fraction of man-made co2 emissions are from animal farming
        2. Farming animals is cruel, unethical, and results in billions of animals murdered each year
        3. The first 2 points are made worse because eating meat is optional, for pleasure only.

        As for the paleo diet, it’s a gimmick, and it ignores all established dietary information and ethics of eating meat.

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        • Colby September 8, 2015, 10:42 am

          I should correct myself by saying meat doesn’t contain any essential nutrients that we can’t get from non-animal sources. B12, vit D, etc.

          Reply
        • Eric September 8, 2015, 2:20 pm

          I don’t want to turn this into a diet/nutrition battleground, but here goes…

          It is just plain wrong that you can get all essential nutrients from other food without eating meat. B12, cholesterol, iron, zinc.

          Meat consumption is CORRELATED with these diseases, but there is no proof of CAUSATION. Please google this. Vegan diets are associated with lower rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, and higher rates of exercise, insurance, and WEALTH! These are confounding factors. Please google “Healthy user bias”

          The argument about certain cultures who eat less meat having better health outcomes is largely based on the seven-countries study, which is famously VERY flawed and well discussed online.

          In a general sense, “meat production” does not produce more CO2. Conventional CAFO meat production does produce a great deal of CO2, but pasture raising meat has been shown to be carbon NEGATIVE (http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/su12cfootprint)

          Again, I don’t want this to turn into a diet/nutrition discussion, but I couldn’t help myself.

          Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2015, 12:54 pm

        Just to correct Josh there, I certainly don’t eat a paleo diet. It’s just a minimal-carbohydrate diet – most calories from oil and nuts, most protein from eggs and cheese. But admittedly there is some really expensive mostly organic local meat in there which comes with a huge resource footprint.

        I never said I lead a lightweight or minimalist life – it is admittedly very spendy and high-consumption and should not be considered as a model of extreme frugality.

        Reply
        • josh September 9, 2015, 9:47 am

          thanks. encouraging that you read this mess. IMO, the most interesting conversations are those that occur when rational decision making processes conflict with personal idiosyncrasies. It is moments like this that reveal that much of the FI group think is that of a game … or a race, fueled by the same human qualities we try to eschew.

          Reply
  • Justin September 8, 2015, 10:02 am

    Love this one, MMM. I’ll put this out there for public consumption. I somewhat to strongly dislike dogs.

    Some are okay, some are real assholes. You hit the nail on the head about the barking and poop. If you live in the city and own a dog that barks, trust me that you’ve probably created a nuisance for your smiling non-dogged neighbors who are too polite to tell you that barking at 5 am or 9 pm or any time really isn’t awesome (even if your dog is just saying “what’s up!” because he loves you and/or the food you give him). When us non-dogged people pass your happy dog on the sidewalk and it jumps on us, that’s one dog more than we want jumping on us. Maybe he’s friendly but maybe we don’t want animals jumping on us. Even friendly animals.

    And wow at the costs for dog ownership. Too many times I’ve suppressed that facial tell that shows how disappointed I am that someone is perpetually broke but always has $$ for doggy grooming, the vet, the pills, animal boarding, fixing destruction by dog, etc.

    /rant off

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  • Thochoo September 8, 2015, 10:03 am

    After our current pets live out their lives. We will not adopt again and it will be for financial reasons. The amount of money we have spent on pet care is unreal and more importantly not proportionate to our incomes. An economical choice for pets if you still want them in your life, is fostering and/or volunteering with pets. When you foster an animal the rescue group covers medical costs & sometimes even food or flea/tick or heartworm treatment now and again. You can volunteer at animal shelters to walk dogs that really need some excersise & company. You can love animals & still enjoy spending time with them without owning them.

    Reply
    • Susan September 14, 2015, 8:42 pm

      We have come to the same conclusion. We have spent more on pets than is financially prudent given our incomes. Like you, once ours are gone, we will not replace them.

      Thank you for suggesting fostering or volunteering. Other comments have mentioned offering pet sitting/ dog walking services either as a business, or for family, friends and neighbors. These are all good alternatives to pet ownership that we would not have thought of before.

      Reply
  • Meghan September 8, 2015, 10:09 am

    I have two dogs. I had one but she is a nervous wreck and licks herself until she develops sores, so I got a second, much smaller dog to be company for her when I work. I used to pay for a dog sitter for when I travelled AND a dog walker at a cost of $60 and $19 respectively. Plus there’s food, vet visits for said neurotic dog, and on and on. I love this dog (the second one is okay too), and I do believe in seeing a dog through it’s life. I would never abandon her. Now I live in a house and put a dog door in, so that saves money. Condo living isn’t for me anyway so she doesn’t cost more there. I also now have a roommate for overnights, so there no more need for a sitter. However, I will not get another big dog when she passes. I’ll keep the little one but she’s much less maintenance. I love having the company and honestly, being a single female, I also have enjoyed the security a barking watch dog has provided over the last 8.5 years. BUT before this house purchase, I was spending double the costs given above, at least. I feel guilty leaving her for any length of time, I travel less, and she ties me down. At least with a little dog, I can stick her in a bag and go. Your point is legitimate and appreciated, even by a co-dependent dog lover like myself.

    Reply
  • Tahoe Paul September 8, 2015, 10:23 am

    If an outsider was gazing down on our planet I would hope they would think humans are completely irrational, unethical and sick. What species would breed so many companion animals that they don’t want them all and then kill 1.7 million of them every year? Only humans would do something that crazy. I hope everyone reading this thinks about the dogs and not themselves. 1. Only get a dog from a shelter. 2. Never support a breeder in any way. 3. Adopting a dog helps deal with the problem humans created. 4. If you can’t afford or care for a dog, don’t get one. 5. Dogs do not need to eat meat (cats do) and Nature’s Balance and V-Dog make plant based foods that have much less environmental impact on the planet than feeding animals the plants and then feeding dogs the animals.

    Reply
    • josh September 8, 2015, 10:41 am

      What if I reduce my personal impact to allow my dog to eat meat? At what level of planetary impact am I allowed as a human being? Am I good if I am below (total cost)/(population)? If I save society 40,000 Therms of natural gas per year, can I leverage those savings to increase my own footprint, or feed my dog meat? I wonder about these relativities, especially when they crop up in the form of criticisms of other people’s choices or non-thinking… like the guy above who was terribly impositioned by offleash dog slobber.

      Reply
  • Melissa September 8, 2015, 10:29 am

    I am an avid animal lover, but I wish more people would think about the cost of pet ownership (particularly dogs) before going and getting one. I don’t care if you don’t want a dog or cat or whatever, but if you do, you need to take care of it. Dogs need exercise and training and cleaning up after. So many (like my neighbor’s dogs) don’t and it drives me crazy. I also live in a country suburb, and have had dogs aggressively chase after me if I go biking further out in the country (heaven forbid you have fences or teach your dogs to leave people on the road alone).

    I know animals are an extra cost, but to me and my husband they provide a whole lot of love and entertainment. We have 6 pets (currently have 3 cats, 2 bunnies, and a bird) but no dog because we know that even one dog would be a whole lot more time and money expense that the other 6 animals combined. Our neighbor checks on the critters once a day when we do go out of town, but we aren’t much of the wanderlust type anyways so it’s never more than a week. We also volunteer at the local shelter and my husband can get his dog fix and we can help more animals find homes and help the community in a small way.

    I want to see more RESPONSIBLE pet ownership and people being honest with themselves on if they are truly ready to take on the time and money commitment they take.

    Reply
  • Jeff September 8, 2015, 10:30 am

    Are you reading my mind? The last 3 article came out within days of me pondering something new. Use your powers responsibly or I’ll spoil the surprise on the next article!

    Reply
  • K September 8, 2015, 10:32 am

    Aside from the cost, imagine if the dog sucks. I’ve had three dogs (with my wife who grew up owning dogs) – one was great, so we got a second one. He sucked – ate his own poop and was hyper…..simply annoying. Well, within three months of good one passing away, my wife wanted to get another. I had told her to give it a year.

    So, we now have a “rescue Pug” named Heidi…..rescue lady said it was because “She yodels”. Well, it’s not yodeling, it’s about a 15-20 second sequence of high pitched yelps. Does it to go outside, or to come inside, does it right after my wife leaves the house (it’s def her dog), and right when she returns. I cannot count how many times I’ve been woken by her. She also eats her own poop.

    The one dog was great, but I am done.

    But, we do have relatives that fit the post above. One just graduated college and got a very large dog. The other just turned 21 and clearly cannot afford a dog, any dog. It’s skinny. She cannot afford gas for her car (prob cannot afford her car).

    Reply
  • leah September 8, 2015, 10:33 am

    This has really been on my mind lately. In fact, I’ve searched your blog for “dog.” I have one that I adore, and I veer toward Sister MM’s take, but I think you raise important points and sometimes I’m conflicted. In the end, the dog wins, but I’d like to see a follow up on dog medical issues.

    I have a friend who recently spent 5k–yes, 5 thousand dollars on surgery for a dog that ate a basketball. She was raised on a farm where you didn’t get your dog’s teeth cleaned, ate animals, etc. and dogs slept outside. She had a hard time making that call, but it was a split second decision. We had a great conversation about it and she said, had she had more time to think about it, she might have put the dog down. Of course it made me wonder, what would I do? These are agonizing decisions probably best thought through in advance–not to say emotion wouldn’t take over in the situation, but at least you’d have given it consideration. It took guts writing this one MMM–I feel uncomfortable and guilty just writing this comment.

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  • Jeff September 8, 2015, 10:34 am

    I see a couple people have had the same experience we had: once you have a kid, you realize how unfulfilling and time-sucking a dog can be. When we were younger, the dog didn’t feel like such an anchor. We had plenty of friends with dogs, and we took care of each others dogs while we were on vacation, but now we all have kids, and taking care of someone else’s craziness while you’re dealing with your own is often too much.

    Reply
  • Marla Martenson September 8, 2015, 10:41 am

    Great article. I totally agree with you. The responsibility and cost of a dog is major. I have always had a dog, (I have no children) and my dog is the light of my life. Truly my best friend and the biggest joy! I work hard (from home, so my dog is by my side in my office all day, I love that!) and can afford the best care for her. Every penny spent is worth it, what she give me in the way of love, affection and companionship is priceless.

    But sadly, many people do not have the means or time for the care of a dog. The dog ends up abused, unhappy, lonely, runs away or ends up in a shelter. People go into debt because of unexpected health crisis of their dog, such as cancer, etc.

    And as a vegan, it does disturb me that millions of animals must be raised and slaughtered to keep our dogs alive. I don’t know the answer to that one. Dogs are here to stay.

    I think the best thing we all can do at this time is to continue to raise awareness of the important of spaying and neutering our animals and adopting from shelters, not buying dogs from a breeder.

    Reply
    • Fred20 September 16, 2015, 12:35 am

      “And as a vegan, it does disturb me that millions of animals must be raised and slaughtered to keep our dogs alive. I don’t know the answer to that one. Dogs are here to stay.

      I think the best thing we all can do at this time is to continue to raise awareness of the important of spaying and neutering our animals and adopting from shelters, not buying dogs from a breeder.”

      ***FACEPUNCH

      This is such a good article. It directly highlights the EMOTIONAL IRRATIONAL side of justifying “the cost”

      I love my mink fur coat…I just wish minks didn’t have to be killed to make them!

      It’s great your dog is so well taken care of, that is probably not the case with the majority of pet owners.

      Reply
  • Erin September 8, 2015, 10:43 am

    I have fallen out of love with the idea of dog ownership, unfortunately my dogs are elderly and not dead. I still take care of them and I still love them but I can’t help but look at them as machines that convert cash into dogshit. I will be sad when they die but I will be relieved as well. I’ve had enough.

    Reply
  • Peter V September 8, 2015, 11:00 am

    Cats FTW!

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  • Nick September 8, 2015, 11:20 am

    A good way to have a connection with animals – in my experience – is going vegan. It can also be a very healthy, eco-friendly, and affordable habit to have. I never previously thought about why I wore leather and wool – and had no idea about the animal cruelty inherent in those industries.

    I like dogs but don’t have one, though I feel much better about being around animals knowing that I don’t eat animals. Other readers may get the same benefit!

    Reply
  • Ridgewoodpilot September 8, 2015, 11:21 am

    I couldn’t agree more with MMM. From my observations a majority of people tend to leave their dogs home alone for over 10 hours a day, then come home from a hard day work just to open the door to have the dog crap in the yard that gets clean on a monthly basis. The funk that these yards give off in the summer is wonderful. This is the same person that is getting dragged down the block by his over-sized pitbull. Aside from the breeder on page 1 I think people need to take a good look at what kind of maintenance a dog really needs then make a responsible decision in regards to dog ownership. When adding in the proper care, medicine, fencing, housing, toiletries, toys, food, supplies, etc. I can’t seem to see how a person really focused on saving could justify this as a logical decision. Happiness comes in different forms to me, the point I try to make is to set aside things like dogs and helicopters in order to achieve a financial goal.

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  • Kathleen L September 8, 2015, 11:30 am

    I totally agree with you on everything you had the guts to write today. I see many of my single female co-workers spend all their money, time and emotion on their doss and I want to tell them that their life is passing them by.They don’t travel b/c of the pets, they don’t get out much and when they do they have to always get home to walk the dog, they spend any savings on the multiple surgeries and vet costs. It is insane. The best is when I watch the house hunting tv shows and the couples make house buying decisions 95% based on their dogs.

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  • David September 8, 2015, 11:31 am

    As a dog owner I think the post is spot on, but it glosses over the moral issue of mankind breeding millions of dogs and then abandoning them when inconvenient. In MMMs world everyone will read this post and only responsible dog owners will be left, but for the next dozen or so years we have a big dog debt to pay off. Should we euthanise the extras or should ‘someone else’ take them in? Maybe they can become a staple of the paleo diet?

    This would have been a great post were it not for the fact that it shies away from addressing the obvious next question. I am sure this was an accidental omission that will be immediately corrected.

    Reply
  • Sarah September 8, 2015, 11:32 am

    Point taken, but disregarded as it is just not applicable to me. I love dogs, I will always love dogs, and they will always be worth the extra money to me.

    Reply
  • Julia Sweeney Blum September 8, 2015, 11:40 am

    O, I am so happy for this post. I can’t tell you how timely this is for me.

    I have owned pets for my entire adult life. From the time I was 27 to around age 50 I owned many cats and one dog.

    It started because I was sad that we didn’t have pets when I was growing up. Two professors at my university with whom I became a close had many cats. I really loved those cats. So I followed suit. At one time I had four cats. I was also a single female in her thirties, so I must add that it took a certain amount of chutzpah on my part to openly own so many cats.

    But then, I adopted a child. Then I adopted a dog. A dog that needed an enormous amount of exercise! Then I married. I loved having my pets, but after adding a child and a husband I began spending so much more time caretaking than I cared to. My life became looking after others.

    Over time, my cats died and I sobbed after each one. My dog evenutally died too and I will think of him daily until my life is done. I had the quintessential owner-dog relationship with him. Many times I felt he understood me more than anyone else in the world. However, I cannot friggin believe how much of my money and time I spent on my pets!!! I was always chained to my home, always hiring people to feed and look after pets while I was on trips, always NOT going places because of the pets.

    Now I’m looking over the ridge toward when I will be child-free and I’m soooo excited about it. I have watched many of my friends continue to get pet after pet and they cannot travel and they are all people who have money worries. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I was so naive and silly about the pets. I’m so over it. I hope I live a long time and it’s pet free. I want freedom.

    I think people should raise children instead of have dogs – as a general rule. (And yes, adopt as I did.) At least the children will grow up to become voting citizens and possibly responsible leaders. People have no idea how much a pet is going to chain them to aspects of their life that they may not want to be chained to. I love how Mr. Money Mustache wrote about people with pets getting the big car. I did that! O! O! I did so many things wrong. I’m so lucky I have lived long enough to get wise. I guess I’m saying this: even though I had many pets and loved them all deeply, in retrospect I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had been more fluid, richer, and less harried.

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  • Sheri K September 8, 2015, 11:45 am

    “We devote millions of acres of our farmland to raising other types of animals which we then slaughter and chop up and feed to our dogs.”

    I don’t think this statement is true. Most dog foods are made from rendered animal waste products.

    Reply
  • Megan September 8, 2015, 11:45 am

    Ive owned multiple cats for 20 years and ive never spent $2k a year. Once when one cat had to have her thyroid radiated i spent about $1500. But that was it. Yealy vaccinations, even getting their teeth cleaned its less than $700/year total

    Reply
  • carrie September 8, 2015, 11:47 am

    Wow MMM! This rant is a little complainypantish. Did you step in dog shit today?

    While I completely agree with the fact that dog ownership (or any pet ownership for that matter) is optional, I think you are exaggerating the reasons a bit. I mean, we have a dog and we very easily still travel, rent, and enjoy life without the issues you reference above, especially in the US which is so extremely pet-friendly. And unless you have a heard of pets or you were one of those people who picked out a high-maintenance designer pets (miniature deer anyone??), your annual expenses are hardly as much as you are saying for a mustacian worth their salt. Our costs are easily well under $1000 a year for our dog, less then $500 if you annualize out the vet expenses over the time we’ve owned the dog.

    And those other negative points like barking, really? Maybe you have blocked out the rest of the noises in a neighborhood but dogs are just as loud as a gaggle of screaming children, or landing airplanes, or someone running woodworking machinery out of their garage. Neighborhoods are loud! That’s kind of the point of an active neighborhood. If you want quiet, move to the country, but don’t single out dogs barking (which I imagine is one bad owner if that dog is barking all the time) when that’s just one piece of the noisy neighborhood pie.

    And speaking of neighborhood, don’t talk about their impact to lawns unless you are going to kill every bird, insect, and other wild creature in nature who are using lawns your lawn as toilets. At least a responsible dog owner will clean it up. More i can say for the damn robin that shits on my patio every day or the millions of insects milling around my yard and garden, eating things and pooping out free fertilizer for my plants. Screw you nature!! And screw kids too, because the only thing worse then the occasional brown spot from my neighbors walking their dogs is all the kids in my neighborhood who destroy the lawn that I let them play on to avoid playing in the street. You think dogs are plant/lawn killers. you should see a pack of 5-10 year-olds.

    The point is you are over-reacting in a way uncommon to your normal posts on here. This isn’t the normal fun face-punching articles that you write, this is just hateful complaining about dogs and their owners. Dogs, and pets in general, are a nice optional addition to life. Much like kids, spouses, homes, home-expresso machines, and anything else beyond the basics like of food, water, shelter, and air. You could easily write an article about something closer to home like how wasteful and spendy it is to have your own child when there are perfectly good 2nd-hand children out there already born that are up for adoption. Or better yet, why not having children at all will get you to retirement even faster. There’s no need to single out dog-owners directly.

    Reply
    • Matt September 8, 2015, 12:21 pm

      “And those other negative points like barking, really?”

      My dad used to have a neighbor who kept his dog outside at night – it was a horrible dog and I think he really only had it for security purposes (their home had been broken into a couple of times). That obnoxious thing barked (loudly) all freaking night long. The times I spent the night visiting my dad, it was nearly impossible to sleep when that thing was going. Most “noisy neighborhoods” aren’t noisy when people are trying to sleep at 3 AM.

      And don’t get me going over the dog who lived in the apartment above my former residence. Whenever the owners would be out of the house, the thing would constantly whine and wimper and yelp right above my bedroom. I felt like I was going insane sometimes.

      Reply
      • carrie September 8, 2015, 3:54 pm

        Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of shithead dog owners out there. I have lived around (and still do) a lot of shitty pet owners and I have called the cops and animal control more then once on dogs left outside barking at all times of day and whether. It’s an asshole thing to do by bad owners. But to say that all dogs bark all day and night like this or that all dog owners are assholes that let their dogs bark endlessly is just not true and not beneficial to making a decision about whether to own a pet or not.

        Pets are an optional privilege, much like kids, but just bitching about them while exaggerated the negatives of bad owners isn’t going to help anyone make an informed decision about whether or not they are good to own. I mean take a look at the “only one kid” article and see how cool and positive that is. There’s nothing in there about no one should ever have them because they can have full meltdown tantrums in public, get snotty hands on things, and are a burden to travel with.

        There’s so much that can be said about HOW to pick a pet (the right size, the right type, when, where, how to care for them, feed, vet costs, etc…) this post just missed a huge opportunity by way of ranting.

        Reply
        • Slee September 11, 2015, 8:00 pm

          Right on Carrie. The difference in the Kid vs Pet article really rubbed me the wrong way too.

          Reply
  • Michal September 8, 2015, 11:49 am

    Think of how cruel some people can be to dogs. You bring this cute little ball of fur home, proceed to leave for work each morning abandoning it in a tiny cooped up apartment. The poor thing being lonely and bored ends up yapping the whole day disturbing the people who remain home in their apartments. We had two such incidents like this and the building has subsequently banned dog and cat ownership.

    Reply
    • carrie September 8, 2015, 12:19 pm

      I agree people can be cruel to animals and don’t think through their ownership, but i would point out that one doesn’t justify the other. I mean, you could easily complain about the noise families with babies/small children make in apartments as well, without pushing to ban them from the apartment.

      Reply
      • Michal September 8, 2015, 12:44 pm

        It’s not so much the noise that babies/small kids and even pets make, you’ve really got to be a grumpy old person if you can’t deal with the sounds of kids. Rather its the absolute anguish you hear in the barking that makes me sad, that anguish I’m sure is caused by being left alone all day possibly without food. I would be disingenuous if I said that people don’t abandon their kids, sadly they do. Maybe there are just some people that shouldn’t have dependents.

        Reply
        • carrie September 8, 2015, 12:54 pm

          Agreed, there are bad apples in every bunch; bad parents, bad pet-owners, bad landlords, bad renters. Just don’t think we should ban all because of the action of a few

          Reply
  • Alan September 8, 2015, 11:49 am

    We feed our 60 lb dog good quality dog food at a cost of $20/mo and one vet visit per year at a cost of $100. Flea and other meds are another $100/year, so we’re talking < $500/yr in costs. We swap dog-sitting with friends with dogs to save kennel costs. For all of the exercise and entertainment he provides each and every day, I consider it a good value and investment in our physical and mental well being, plus our home is much less likely to be burglarized.

    Reply
    • Meredith September 11, 2015, 12:32 pm

      Thank you for this well-written, reasonable response. There hasn’t been nearly enough questioning of the $2000/year figure used by MMM. I have had my dog for two years and she hasn’t cost me $2000 in her lifetime, including the $250 adoption fee (which I viewed as a donation to the rescue).

      Reply
  • Christine Wilson September 8, 2015, 12:10 pm

    I just think pet ownership fills a very big need in a person’s life: companionship. You mention you give up your freedom for your pets. Well that you do. And one should consider this before getting a pet. But for some, the freedom is not wanted freedom.. it’s horrible, horrible freedom! Horrible freedoms include: having no place to call home, having no companionship, having no direction in life, having no community. To gain any of these things usually require a loss of freedom. So think carefully. But when one does think carefully and commits to constraints.. it can be deeply rewarding! A person could commit to mastering their passion in life. It likely takes years of practice and dedication. But its rewarding and deeply fulfilling. So I just want to say that freedom isn’t always a positive thing.

    Reply
  • Kyung September 8, 2015, 12:18 pm

    Your sister writes well, too. Does she have a blog?

    Reply
  • Shellie September 8, 2015, 12:21 pm

    I understand that having a dog (or any animal really) takes a lot of time and money and also limits freedom of anyone. That being said, I have a real struggle living life without our furry friends. There are great FREE options of having the benefits of a furry friend, without finacial responsibilities or without limiting your freedom.

    I have been a volunteer and foster at several animal shelters, both in Denver and in California. As a volunteer, you can generally go in whenever you’d like just to pet dogs, cats, or small animals to provide them the socialization and attention they need. Having a bad day? Go pet a cat after work. Plus, you get to write the travel to/from the shelter as volunteer mileage on your taxes.

    As a foster, you also have the ability to pick out cats, kittens, puppies, dogs or other animals to foster. Animals need fostering for a number of reasons from health reasons, to socialization, or kittens to small to be adopted so need a place where they can socialize and get attention before they can go up for adoption. The best part is, if you’re going out of town, you simply have to let the shelter know and find time to bring it back in. They pay for all the supplies you need for taking care of the animal, and once again, you can benefit from tax write-offs.

    So, even if you don’t think you can afford a pet (or don’t want one for the numerous reasons MMM lists), there is still opportunity to care for pets of all different needs. :)

    Reply
  • Matt Lengenfelder September 8, 2015, 12:22 pm

    Sister MM is a maple syrup producer. Does she sell maple syrup somewhere I can buy some? Maple syrup is one of the few things I splurge on, I don’t buy/eat it often but when I do I want the good stuff, not the maple syrup-like chemicals they sell at most grocery stores. Does Sister MM have a shop on etsy or an ebay store?

    Reply
  • Tom September 8, 2015, 12:26 pm

    These are the very reasons why we decided to not adopt a new dog when our beloved Golden Retriever passed last year. We loved life with her and will remember her forever, but the expenses…!

    We now get to enjoy the neighbors’ dogs, and on holiday weekends like the one that just passed here in the States, we get to enjoy the dogs in exchange for a few Andrew Jacksons and Benjamin Franklins in our wallet. It’s a great gig.

    Reply
  • Jim McG September 8, 2015, 12:28 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments and maybe this point has been made before, but the way we in the affluent First World treat our pets versus the rest of humanity is borderline sick. Living in Britain and watching the current immigration crisis from Syria, it strikes me that most of those poor people would willingly have my pet’s life instead of their own in an instant. Fed, warm, living in safety, kept healthy…..when my cat goes, what I currently spend on it is going to a children’s charity.

    Reply
  • Ken September 8, 2015, 12:28 pm

    This is a great article, MMM. Pet owners often seem cult-like in their obsession with pets. It totally limits their freedom. My favorite is when pet owners complain about not having enough money, but then also mention how they spent $2,000 at the vets. It’s outrageous.

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  • Stray_Cat September 8, 2015, 12:30 pm

    I cringe at what you would say about my horse sometimes, MMM. I am a person who has always loved animals since I was a child, I think it is something inside me that I cannot change. They provide so much happiness to me and happiness is something I’ve always had trouble finding. There are ways to keep costs down. I have fostered for a local rescue and it really is foster in name only, adoption but the rescue pays the vet bills. They just need homes to place the dogs. Leading into – animals provide us a way to give back. Now, about my horse – I often say he is cheaper than my dogs. When I bought him I made sure he could be used as a lesson horse, since I can’t get there every day anyway. So in exchange he lives and eats free. I only pay for vet bills (so far about $100/year for shots) and insurance ($300/year). Like I said, there are always ways to mitigate costs, if you look for them.

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  • Janet September 8, 2015, 12:43 pm

    Since I was a small child I have always had a dog or cat or both. I love them, however I realized after reading the MMM blog a few years ago that I really can’t afford a pet … I’ve spent tons of money on vet bills, litter and food over the years that I couldn’t really afford. Charlie, my current cat, will be my last, and if I want to be around pets during retirement, it probably would be better for me to volunteer at an animal shelter.

    Reply
  • Cory September 8, 2015, 12:43 pm

    A few benefits of dogs that I haven’t seen mentioned:

    -If you spill/drop food on the floor the dog will clean it up for you. This is especially helpful if you have little kids that are always making a mess during meals.

    -Canine alarm system – it is impossible to enter our yard without the dogs seeing or hearing you and letting out a warning bark. This has alerted us to suspicious people snooping around on many occasions and helped protect us from theft. It is also helpful when we’re in the basement or backyard and can’t hear a guest knocking on the door.

    -Rat and raccoon defense. Our dogs love hunting rats and raccoons and making sure they stay far away from our chicken coop and garden.

    -Chick magnets! My dog got me so many dates, including with the woman that I am now lucky enough to call my wife.

    Reply
  • Patrick September 8, 2015, 12:45 pm

    I recently read an interesting NYT article about how the bulk of pet food is made with food harvested with slave labor… http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/world/outlaw-ocean-thailand-fishing-sea-slaves-pets.html

    Reply
  • RecoveringCarClown September 8, 2015, 1:06 pm

    I grew up with dogs, at least 2-3 at any given time. I admit we had some good times. However, I also remember costs to both our freedom and finances. I certainly think that it is an acceptable placebo for people that live alone. However, in the end I choose freedom. I love being spontaneous and that does not work with a dog. Nearly all my friends have dogs, and something as simple as getting a drink after work can be a problem when a dog is home waiting on them for food/bathroom/shoes to chew-on or whatever. I am sure they feel the trade-off is worth it, but the part I see is disappointment due to the ball and leash.

    Reply
  • Barb September 8, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Hmm. I could have sworn I saw a post on someone who was thinking about getting a dog in retirement, and then rethinking it. Anyway…From the perspective of a retiree living on a fixed income only (social security and pension), I have a dog and would not be without him. I’m obviously not wealthy or even FI by most peoples definition. Admittedly I have family members who can take the dog, and admittedly one of us has to come home and feed the dogs if we go out somewhere. But in my opinion the benefit of dogs in terms of lifestyle are huge, and I certainly don’t think that my dog decreases my house value by 20 percent. Yes, I have to vacuum more often and yes, I have to pick up those little round things, but other than that….no shredded floor or carpet, and the prints on the wall are from me grabbing it when I fell, not the dog. There are more studies than I can count on the advantages of having dogs in retirement, and truthfully, I think those advantages apply to all life, not just retirement. I think that rather than being a detriment for single people that they can increase quality of life.

    Its easy to meet people when you have a dog-strangers come up and say hi, and other dog owners talk as well. It’s enforced exercise, every single day come rain or shine, that dog has to be walked twice. Dog ownership lowers the rate of depression in both singles and retirees seniors. Oh, and my dog is the best early warning security system you could have.

    Reply
  • Cassie September 8, 2015, 1:10 pm

    I do think this article was a little mean spirited. Yes pets cost $ but give more in return as your own sister mentioned. My dogs lower my blood pressure & anxiety. I have lost 30 lbs recently due to walking them & have met many of my neighbors that I did not know. They commented on the dog & we started to talk. I doubt that would have happened if I was walking by myself. It is also hard sometimes to have the motivation to exercise but I feel guilty if I don’t walk the dogs. Therefore I exercise every day with a long walk. My dogs know when I am sad & give me extra attention. We have 4 old rescue dogs. As they die we will only have 1 because at age 61 we don’t want to burden our kids if something happens to us. They will happily keep 1 dog but no more. I will never be without a dog again. They give me such joy & I happily choose to spend $ on them. They are great travel companions. We took a month trip covering 5 states this summer with all of them. I wish everyone would spay/neuter to reduce the population and it goes without saying that we need to close the inhumane puppy mills so we don’t have to keep euthanizing animals because there are not enough homes.

    Reply
  • Emily September 8, 2015, 1:14 pm

    I would never ever want to live without dogs. They are right up there with family and friends in my ranking of important things in my life. A bit of money-saving advice … get a dog from a rescue (often found on petfinder dot com). Though the adoption fee is slightly higher, they come fully vetted, altered and microchipped, so you don’t see to see the vet for another year or have to pay hundreds at the vet in addition to an adoption fee. Heartworm preventative and flea/ticks meds can be bought on petshed dot com for much cheaper as they are shipped in from Australia or England. Also use your area’s low cost vaccine clinics for annual shots, heartworm and fecal tests. Learn what vaccines your dog actually needs, not just what your vet wants to sell you. The Kirkland brand of dog food from Costco ranks right up there with some fancy brands that cost 2x as much. Get a good sized used large crate of CL and train your dog to enjoy being there when you’re out, to minimize potential for damage to your home or belongings. You can even buy vaccines at your local Tractor Supply-type stores. Like anything else, if you put some time and research into it, dog ownership can be done at a reasonable price.

    Reply
    • Emily September 8, 2015, 1:17 pm

      I forgot to mention that fostering for a rescue is absolutely free! They can buy food, provide crates, beds and toys, and care of all medical care. In addition, you’re saving lives! This is definitely the MMM way to go!

      Reply
  • Eric September 8, 2015, 1:28 pm

    Dear Commenters,
    Please stop telling us that having kids is optional/expensive. It literally has nothing to do with owning pets. Kids being optional/expensive does not all of a sudden make dogs/pets not expensive. Your argument is akin to, “My car loan is not expensive because credit card debt is expensive too!”

    If you love your dog, you understand the costs, and you can afford them, then GOOD FOR YOU! This article is not for you. Its for those who CANT afford the costs. A quick google search will show many examples of people who go deep into dept to pay for medical procedures for their pets.

    Of course people could also go into debt to cover a child’s medical expenses too, BUT WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT.

    Reply
  • Jay September 8, 2015, 1:40 pm

    We had an entire sled dog team when I was a kid. I hate to think how much bigger my inheritance would have been without them. I have never owned a dog in the ensuing 45 plus years. MMM has channeled the words from an original song I used to do when I played out regularly fifteen years ago. It is called “K9 Cretins.”

    The aliens have landed
    They’re scratching their scaly heads
    They cannot figure out who’s in charge
    the Canines or the Feds

    The master race leads the slaves about
    On the end of an extended leash
    The slaves pick up their feces for them
    Then go home and make them quiche

    (yes I realize quiche is not a good dog food, but it’s a song)

    Reply
  • Tony Mishler September 8, 2015, 1:41 pm

    Different strokes for different folks. My dog ownership has been one of the most enriching experiences of my adult life. I value my time with my dogs far more than the paltry sums of money I’ve spend on them. Maybe a couple thousands year tops? For me it’s worth every penny but your mileage may vary.

    Reply
  • Darrell September 8, 2015, 1:43 pm

    No one ever laid on their deathbed and said, “I wish I had worked more.” I also don’t think many ever laid there and said, “I wish I had less dogs and children. They were a drain on me financially.” Next, can we do charity? Do those emotional schlops know that their giving is costing them decades of servitude to the man?

    Reply
  • Ketchup September 8, 2015, 1:51 pm

    Thank God for this post. This crystallizes a lot of the feelings that have been brewing in me for many years. I am regularly horrified by the amount of time, energy and money my dog-owning friends and family members spend on their furry friends. My mom’s dogs are the filthiest things you’ve ever seen; they’ve destroyed all of her furniture and Oriental rugs. My dad and his wife spend thousands on doggy day care so that their precious pooches don’t have to feel lonely during the day. When my sister and her husband visit us, they insist on bringing their dogs along, despite the hundreds of dollars that they have to pay to the airlines as a “pet surcharge.” My in-laws insist on vacationing with their dog, never mind the fact that he pees everywhere and chews everything he comes in contact with (including my laptop power cord!) Not wanting to leave their dogs alone is a common excuse that all of them use for not visiting our toddler daughter (their only grandchild) more often. And the best: a friend of mine couldn’t ever manage to put any savings aside so that she and her husband could buy a house…but, you can bet that they’ve done doggy DNA tests on all 3 of the dogs that they’ve kept over the last 5 years! I can’t deal with the mess, the smell, the barking or the vet bills. I will never, ever be a dog owner.

    Reply

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