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.

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!

  • Troy Rank September 7, 2015, 9:52 pm

    Child Substitute FTW. Dogs>>Babies. Way more affordable.

    • Danno September 8, 2015, 8:25 am

      100% agree. Bash on breeding before getting a dog. Do we need more than 7 billion people in the world? How many already have no homes or chance at life? ADOPT IF YOU WANT KIDS. Adopting a child is probably the most noble thing possible.

      Aside from that, MMM should make a new post about how child rearing is also optional. I just wish the impoverished areas in the world would get this memo. The poverty and crime would probably disappear in 1 generation if birth control wasn’t so squashed by religious zealots who also happen to hate welfare.

      • Pop September 8, 2015, 11:52 am

        • Phil September 12, 2015, 8:53 am

          That is a great video. Thank you.

      • Ken P September 8, 2015, 12:26 pm

        Being child- and pet-free is even better, because I have zero responsibilities tying me down outside of work.

        And MMM has written articles about children:

        • Mysticaltyger September 8, 2015, 3:37 pm

          I agree. I’m not against dogs per se, but I see sooooo many people commit to having one and then get themselves into a major bind. They move to an expensive city where you already pay through the nose for rent and then they have to pay even more because they have one or more dogs, etc. It really isn’t about dogs. It’s about people thinking much more carefully before they take on such big commitments. And a lot of people aren’t thinking carefully about having dogs OR kids.

        • Baron September 8, 2015, 9:15 pm

          Having no kids and no pets is not better as you suggest. It may be better for you but not for others. The point is to address costs and make informed decisions. Everyone is different and kids or pets can make people’s lives a lot better and maybe not yours.

          Also, you assume it is better, but the thing with pets and dogs is that you won’t really know until you had one.

      • Carlos September 8, 2015, 3:25 pm

        It would not be long when people claim their kids are rescues also

      • Stockbeard September 8, 2015, 3:55 pm

        Danno, your comment is from someone who clearly has never actually tried to adopt a child. You’d know it’s orders of magnitude more difficult than having your own, especially in some countries, especially when you’re a foreigner.

        I know, I tried (in Japan).

      • SnowCanyon September 8, 2015, 6:17 pm

        I would wager that you are not adopted and have not worked with the adoptee community. Many first families and adoptees feel adoption as practiced in the modern world is simply child buying and selling. The flow of children is from darker, poorer women to richer, whiter first world inhabitants. More and more research is showing that maternal-child separation is a trauma that neither ever recovers from. I would urge you to read more on the subject before you claim it is so noble. Do you really think the women of China, Korea and Guatemala love their children less? Or do you think there is endless corruption? Read “Somebody’s Children” by Laura Briggs and “The Child Catchers” by Kathryn Joyce and see if your views change. This adoptee has reunited happily with her first family!!!

        • Innkeeper77 September 10, 2015, 7:43 pm

          While I have to agree that there are some dark sides to adoption, and some awful situations, PLEASE do not generalize this to adoption in general! As someone who was adopted (From and to the united states by the way, with only a minimal geographic shift) I am VERY happy I was adopted. I never had a problem bonding with my adoptive parents, and consider them my true parents in every way I can determine, and would never intentionally “reunite” with my biological relations. I know I vastly prefer my life to what it would have been.. I would have been a millstone around my mothers neck, a drain on resources keeping the family in a bad situation or making it worse. Instead, I grew up with stable and loving parents. Really, I won the birth lottery by being born in the US, but being adopted to a different set of parents improved that by orders of magnitude.

          Due to my own experience, I would like to adopt children myself. The problems you have mentioned are why I am not considering international adoptions, but being willing to spend the time and money can completely change a child’s life for the better. It is also why foster care may be in our future.

        • geekgrrl0 September 19, 2015, 3:27 pm

          Adopting is not just for moving children from poor areas to rich areas. My wife and I are considering adopting some older LGBT youth who have been kicked out of their families in rich, white ‘Murica because of who they are, talk about trauma! Some of us who want to adopt want to do it from the USA. There are so many children of all ages and races in YOUR country (regardless of what country that is) that need adopted. Why are you ONLY focusing on adoption from China, Korea and Guatemala?

          And adoption is still better than breeding your own when there are over 7 billion of our species on a planet that cannot sustain that population without devastating other species and habitats.

      • Kate September 8, 2015, 9:31 pm

        Adoption isn’t noble. I am an adoptive parent three times over. There is no altruism in adoption – I wanted children, so I adopted them. Nothing in my life, not an undergraduate education, nor a graduate education, nor marriage, nor travel, has so fundamentally altered who I am. They have grown me and I am a far better person for knowing them. Additionally (the “just adopt” refrain is irksome to those of us who have, and those of us who’ve tried, but couldn’t), adoption is bloody hard. The red tape, intense scrutiny by social workers, training, waiting, and then raising kids with less than ideal starts, it’s all hard as hell. Worth it, absolutely, but “adopt if you want kids” doesn’t do justice the difficulty of even getting started. Beyond that, how I grew my family, versus how my neighbour grew his, is not about the planet and the environment. My kids cannot be reduced to a greener alternative to bio kids. Finally – birth control in impoverished areas? Really? Nothing to do with poverty, sexual violence, racism, colonialism, and more poverty? Just the pill and some condoms and poof!, no more poverty and crime.

        • Coco September 11, 2015, 4:31 am

          Well put. Also, you are amazing!

          • Evelyne McNamara September 17, 2015, 10:21 am

            Perfect, Kate. I have 9 children, 4 bio and 5 through adoption. I would gently correct Coco’s comment. You are not amazing because you adopted. You are an amazing mom, period.

      • Mindy September 23, 2015, 10:36 am

        Agree with everything but the last sentence. As a labor and delivery nurse in a mostly low/no income population, birth control is free and they get pregnant on purpose. Free healthcare, food, formula, child care, etc. and increased attention from family members and baby daddies make it desirable to them. If you suggest adoption, they look at you like you have two heads. It’s just the cultural norm.

    • brydanger September 8, 2015, 12:22 pm

      Oddly, I had much the same reaction to reading this post. Not as some “pissed off dog owner”, but as someone who has always appreciated the ability of MMM to stretch and see both logical sides of a financial discussion.

      I couldn’t help but re-read and mentally replace “dog” with “kid” throughout the post and it fit perfectly almost every time (except maybe not being allowed to rent an apartment because of your children…but as a landlord i’ve seen just as much damage from kids as pets, and parents so far tend to be far higher maintenance than dog owners).

      I appreciate the post for what it’s intended…people should absolutely consider the costs (both financial and freedom) before jumping into dog ownership as they should before having a child…and most don’t do either.
      But for all this work having gone into writing about how pet ownership is costly and not required, but it seems a disservice that the former MMM post on having children was instead titled “you’re allowed to have just one” while in fact… having children is also very much optional.

      If the intent of this post is truly directed at pointing out costs and freedom (and the correlation t0 FI), then please- write the same thoughtful post about kids being optional or better yet the overall cost/freedom ratio of having dogs vs kids. I think you’ll find the annual expenses, stress to keep/maintain a job, health and certainly overall happiness factor are actually a huge win for the dogs (doesn’t hurt that there are hundreds of studies about the correlation of pet ownership to happiness, while the following is the effect on happiness of having even just that one child) ;)

      At least for us (like all other conversations about our lifestyle, happiness, goals and FI) we weighed all of the above factors in both conversations about whether to have/adopt a pet and whether to have/adopt a child…and while it isn’t in and of itself a reason not to do so- all numbers come out far better if you opt for neither, but a dog seems literally like a “walk in the park” (pun absolutely intended) compared to the price and lifelong commitment of a child/children.

      • Christine Wilson September 8, 2015, 12:39 pm

        Very well put. I definitely see MMM shows favoritism about having children vs dogs and is apparent in the title of his respective posts on the subjects. Which seems less logical and more emotional ;)

        • Chris September 9, 2015, 11:03 am

          “I definitely see MMM shows favoritism about having children vs dogs”

          I’ve never commented this much on a post, but this comparison of dogs to kids is driving me insane. Are you really criticizing a guy for showing favoritism to kids vs dogs.

          Anyone who continues this argument needs to be written off as a crazy dog person.

          Do any of these people have kids?? Please specify. If so, then DAMN!!!!! I feel sorry for them.

          • Christine Wilson September 9, 2015, 12:00 pm

            I don’t think your preference of having a kid makes someone else’s preference to have a dog.. or have a dog and a kid.. crazy. All I am saying is clearly it’s an emotional decision for either choice. Calling me crazy is a bit much, thanks.

          • brydanger September 9, 2015, 12:35 pm

            I actually wasn’t criticizing at all.
            I’m just stating that both are options, that this is a blog about finding financial freedom and suggesting that both should be discussed on their own merits.

            The sooner that anyone looking to drastically change their life (in terms of finances, freedom, happiness, etc) realizes that everything (yes, everything) in life is a choice…the quicker and more easily they will create that change.

            I’m not even suggesting you shouldn’t have kids, or a pet or a car… Just that each decision from what car to drive (or whether to drive one at all) to which pet (or have one at all) to how many kids (or if to have them at all) should be weighed on all levels before making it…most people don’t. They get the job, buy the fancy car, adopt the pet and have the children as though it’s a mandate/assumption rather than a choice they get to make.

            Most people are on autopilot doing what society has been telling them to do their whole life. Break the cycle people… it’s WAY better on the other side!

          • Taryl September 9, 2015, 3:23 pm

            In a post about financial freedom, I darn sure dogs win over kids.

            • Slee September 11, 2015, 6:14 pm

              I have neither dogs nor kids. As a third party observer, this is another rare fail on MMM’s part. Hey, no one is perfect and that’s OK! I’m not criticizing his observations…they are true. But it is insanely hard not to read the hypocrisy throughout since he chose to have a child (which by the way will very likely do far more damage to this world than a fleet of clown cars, or a barn full of frisky canines).
              I think MMM needs to call a mulligan on this one.

            • Peter September 12, 2015, 2:54 pm

              How do you know his kid won’t go on to create great things? If we’re looking at this through a purely financial lens, than at least children can go on to become productive economic entities (create lots of wealth).

      • StevenC September 8, 2015, 1:11 pm

        Social studies of this type I think fairly useless. No one starts to own a pet because of a study based on correlation, which are all awful and are easily used to support assumptions with pseudo science. We can all imagine the ways in which a pet can better our lives and the decision to own a pet is only truly validated in hind sight for each individual owner. There are just too many unknowns if you have never owned a dog and no amount of reading can really explain how you will feel about them in the end.

        That is why I think in the beginning you need to be as logical about the decision as possible before you commit because once you have your dog all of your decision will become emotional, as I think they should. When our dogs gets sick we don’t worry about cost, they are family members. Before people get this far they need to really evaluate if a dog or other animal will enhance or hurt their life style. If you weigh all the pros and cons and think you have the financial and personal means to support the dog then there is a good chance you have a great experience integrating a dog into your family. If not the responsibility of it may overwhelm the good parts.

        Pets are awesome and everyone should consider them at some point. But I think there are a lot of people who should eventually decide to avoid pets as they are not necessary and if you aren’t suited to having them the pet and you will both suffer.

        • Abigail October 11, 2015, 5:22 pm

          I agree. I got talked into buying a pet with my best friend once as foolish college student and a second time as a foolish wife. In both cases, the dog ended up with another party–not even the husband or the friend, but a third person who had more sense, time and affection.
          I adore children but have scarily emotionless feelings towards pets once I own them. The strange thing is that even though I am a generally caring person, I felt very disconnected and resentful towards a pet when I was single–not to mention the immense cost he elicited in the wake of a divorce. While he is happier now with a wonderful friend whose mother spoils him to death, it was a hard lesson to realize that no matter how much others passionately defend the benefits of pet ownership, dogs simply don’t affect everyone that way. I believed the hype and thought that I would appreciate the benefits, but for whatever reason–selfishness, workaholism, or a personality that prefers children to pets (but knows I shouldn’t have either in my home as my own), I want to be a voice who says that regardless of cost, some people just won’t really like having a dog. And that’s okay–in fact, I think it should be acknowledged that some people are much better off without them, and not just because they are awful people. Because they’re not for everyone, and as long as people like me realize that, it’s just fine.

          • priskill November 8, 2015, 12:01 pm

            Absolutely do not have kids or pets if that is what you want (or don’t want) I so support you!! The pressure to procreate is immense and unnecessary. So you be happy!
            But — have to say that dogs are not kids. Really, they are not the same, no matter what you read and hear, no matter what the pet-industrial complex tries to tell you, NOT THE SAME!! I was not into dogs and do not drool every time I see one. Also didn’t drool over kids and was not particularly jonesing for one. Then along came daughter and i found my gooey center. It kicked in! And it was hard, expensive, time-consuming and a great change to our lives. Sometimes I was sad and angry and tired and resentful and I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. As some wise person up-thread said, it grew me up and I am thankful.

            Not saying this to convince you — really don’t have kids if you prefer. Just had to put in a word about the SURPRISE of parenthood — it is such a journey and i could not have predicted ANY of it. And thinking there is something wrong with you because dogs didn’t ring the bell seems really self-punitive! Not the same thing at all. Appreciate your thoughtfulness and wishing you happiness, whatever you do.

      • Leonardo September 8, 2015, 1:17 pm

        One big difference between Kids and Dogs is that the first grow. Of course dogs have the ability to learn lots of stuff, but they will hardly learn how to flush the toilet, as an example.
        Having a dog is as if your kid would never grow up… kinda frustrating for me if you choose dogs instead of kids.

        • Dogs or Dollars September 8, 2015, 1:49 pm

          They don’t grow up, but they do die. Typically before your kid graduates high school. That’s part of the dog experience, and it is larger than yourself. You can see something through its whole life time. And then choose to perhaps re-evaluate or even *gasp* abstain from dog ownership.

        • Patrick September 8, 2015, 4:10 pm

          Said like someone who has never owned a dog. ;) A puppy is very very different than a well-raised adult dog.
          Of course kids and dogs are different – I don’t think anyone disputed that – a dog can never mow your lawn (except perhaps in exceptional cases). But it’s also not true that puppies never grow up or change.

        • k September 9, 2015, 10:40 am

          Dogs as puppies are the most frustrating creatures… you can put a diaper on a kid, you have to take the puppy out every 20 minutes to get them into the habit of housetraining. Once that’s done, and they sleep through the night, and you provide adequate mental and physical exercise, your puppy should grow into a healthy and happy and cherished part of the family. Yes, my dogs are basically like 3 year olds for the entirety of their lives, but there are no screaming tantrums, destroyed walls/furniture/expensive items, potty-training and bed-wetting for years, or snarkiness. I am not constantly fearing for their lives because they make rash decisions and disrespect me. I am not paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in day-care/private schooling (in the south, you go to a private school if you want a good education)/phones/clothes/technology/car insurance/health insurance…and whatever else kids “need”. I am one of the few women I know who is not interested in kids at this time, though I love my friends kids and my nieces (and giving them back to their parents after I’ve had enough). For now (or maybe forever), pets fill that space just fine for me, and we’ve had some high vet bills, we’ve bought them toys that get shredded, we clean up after them in the yard, we’ve paid to go to training classes, we’ve paid shelter adoption fees, and boarding fees, and I guarantee it would be under $10k for both of their entire big-dog lives. I dread the end of their beautiful lives and appreciate every moment I have with them.

          • k September 9, 2015, 10:46 am

            I would add that my husband and I both work, and can afford to pay for said dogs and their expenses. For someone just getting out of college with school loans or someone with a lot of cc debt, I would recommend NOT having a pet, as it IS another expense. Volunteering at a shelter or humane society is a way to get the emotional effects of pets without spending money.

            • geekgrrl0 September 19, 2015, 4:20 pm

              I think the suggestion of volunteering is genius! Also, you could pet sit/dog walk as a part-time job and REALLY be frugal: you can “borrow” a pet AND get paid for it!

      • Eric September 9, 2015, 6:38 am

        Not too surprising kids are found through research as being generally negative, and dogs positive. If you have a kid and find out it’s more hassle than you bargained for, it’s pretty difficult to get rid of them, and comes with a lot of associated guilt and legal hoops. Especially once you’re more than a few months in. On the other hand, dogs are gotten rid of by the thousands, just look at your local pound. People are happy with dogs because all of the people who aren’t happy with dogs just get rid of them.

        • EarningAndLearning June 26, 2017, 11:56 am

          That’s a good point, and was the missing point in MMM’s wonderful, needs-to-be-read-by-everyone post — that people get rid of dogs by the MILLIONS in North America every year, and each one of those abandoned dogs suffers because of it (and millions are put to death because of it). Can we please think of the dogs themselves for a minute? Cause they are the REAL reason to think twice before getting one.

          Please, for the dog’s sake, be ABSOLUTELY SURE. Consider the monthly financial costs and one-off surprise costs, costs to your daily freedom, limitation of long-term life options like moving abroad, and consider that these limitations will go on for the life span of this dependent animal, which can be 10, 12, sometimes 15 years! If you don’t do the research, get a dog, then change your mind, you will just be dumping another innocent, sensitive animal onto the shelter population, and probably sentencing it to a premature death.

          I adopted a rescue dog ten years ago who had spent her life (5 years old) as a breeding dog for an unscrupulous small-town home breeder. She was an 11-pound shih tzu mix, and in very poor health, bred twice a year till she had a botched C-section & could breed no more, then was given up. I didn’t consider the financial costs of adopting her, nor did anyone warn me. WOW. Vet bills ($200 or $400 a visit — couldn’t get pet insurance as she had so many pre-existing problems), dental bills ($1,800 to have a dozen rotting teeth pulled, poor thing, and she needed it, terrible breath that was not just dog breath, but indicative of rotting teeth and gums), and $75 to get her groomed every 2 months (to have anal sacks squeezed out, nails clipped, ear hair trimmed, things I didn’t want to do at home). I loved her with all my heart, but boy, it was an expensive commitment.

          After reading many MMM posts, including this one, I decided to total up the cost of this sweet dog, whom I adored and owned for 7 years (she passed away 2 years ago). I was shocked to see it came to more than $10,000 — fully $1,500/year, and for a small dog! So MMM’s estimation of $2,000/year for a big dog is spot on.

          I adopted this dog when I was making about $40,000/year and living in a big, expensive city. I was young, single, and social, and I definitely daily felt guilt at leaving her alone in my apartment, and made plans around not leaving her for too long, leaving her with my Mom or a friend if I went away, making sure she got outside to pee every few hours, cleaning up any accidents that happened in my apartment (definitely ruined a few rugs), and planning vacations around either bringing her or having her cared for. It was all do-able and I did it happily because I loved her and that’s what you do when you love a dog and are committed to it — I just think most people aren’t willing to make that financial and time commitment for years and years (and dog shelter populations corroborate this).

          I won’t be getting another dog until I am FI and home a lot, and of course when I do I will adopt from a shelter, and choose a dog older than 4, the ones nobody wants. In the meantime, I babysit my parents’ and friends’ dogs when they need help (it takes a village!) and it reminds me how much work dogs are, and I’m always happy to give them back to their owners.

          I am now actively trying to discourage my brother from getting a dog. He is married with 2 boys, both parents working. I’ll remind him of the monthly costs, risk of expensive bills, and the fact that he will be still caring for and walking and paying for that dog when his sons (who are begging him for this dog) go off to University.

          And I’m forwarding him this post.

      • Chris September 9, 2015, 7:32 am

        Did you read the entire post?? If so, I must have read it much differently. I think MMM understands the benefits of having a dog, but also thinks people grossly underestimate their cost. Isn’t that the point of his entire blog??? Think about the ramifications of a purchase before you make it.

        Also, the comparison of dog ownership to having a child is ridiculous. Dogs are often an impulse purchase, even by intelligent high income people. I think most people understand the ramifications of having a child. I’m not saying most people handle it with the appropriate amount of responsibility, but they at least know what’s going on.

        Also, if we’re voting on which is more of a pain in the ass; DOG OR KID. Place my vote for DOG.

        • Jeff September 9, 2015, 9:39 am

          …and everyone who has a kid has thought it through? I find the comparison perfectly valid.

        • josh September 9, 2015, 9:51 am

          At least 40% of children are accidents, this doesn’t even count the liars or the delusional. An easily preventable accident child is an even more preposterous occurrence than the impulsive purchase of a pet.

          Further, ” I think most people understand the ramifications of having a child.” That seems backwards. Why would the significantly more complex ramifications of having a child be any easier to understand than the ramifications of having a dog? If these ramifications were “understood,” it seems unlikely that 40% of our population would be the result of basically negligent behavior.

        • Chris September 9, 2015, 10:12 am

          When someone “accidentally” has a kid their first thought is often “HOLY SHIT, I CAN’T AFFORD A FUCKING KID!!!!” I say this as someone who’s known plenty of people who had unplanned pregnancies. I don’t think people have that sort of freak out moment when they get a dog. They should.

          If you asked the average person how much it costs to take care of a dog, do you think they would over or under-estimate the cost? Ask the same for a child and what do you think. Imagine you’re just asking responsible, intelligent people. I would bet that most would under-estimate the cost of a dog, and over-estimate the cost of a child.

          • Slee September 11, 2015, 6:22 pm

            Dude you are way out there. Re-read what you’ve written. Are you seriously suggesting that the average Joe puts in an equitable level of thought of choosing to have a child and THAT LIFELONG commitment vs that of a pet and ITS LIFELONG commitment? Have you seen ‘Idiocracy’!? You are either an amazing Optimist or a fool.
            To your point you can’t ‘accidentally’ get a dog. But obviously, not much thought went into preventing those unplanned pregnancies did it?

            I don’t have dogs or kids by the way but its pretty obvious to me which one is an order of magnitude or more a worse financial decision.

            • Chris September 14, 2015, 7:00 am

              I truly appreciate your insulting tone, and the reference to Idiocracy gets you major points in my book. But…

              People seem to forget the intended demographic of this blog. I would argue that people who bother to frequent this site ARE the type to put a little thought into having a child. I also think that “MOST” people recognize that “RAISING” a child is expensive. That doesn’t mean they accept the responsibility of making one.

              “MANY” people do not understand the expenses and restrictions that come with a dog.

              Does that put it in simple enough terms?

              Maybe this would be a good exercise…

              Ask 10 random people what the monthly costs are for raising a kid and owning a dog. I would predict that people would over estimate the kid, and under estimate the dog.

              I don’t think that’s way out there, but maybe I’m just an idiot.

              I’M GOIN’ FIX THE CONOMY!!!!!!!

      • freebeer September 11, 2015, 9:28 am

        I think you are being a bit unfair to MMM. After all, he does have a son, who may now or in the future read his writings, so as a parent I can completely understand why he might have been just a bit reluctant to title his post “You’re Allowed To Have None”. And even if he wasn’t concerned about that, most of his posts are from the perspective of his personal experience – he has one child and zero dogs, so he wrote articles accordingly (and in addressing only-child issues I took him as pushing back on the notion that the right number of children is either 0 or 2+). But article titles aside, I am 1000% certain MMM supports “You’re Allowed To Have None” for both children *and* dogs…

        • Slee September 11, 2015, 6:29 pm

          I wager MMM is happy if we call a spade a spade. Its not that he’s wrong about his pet ownership observations, its that his prior children articles now ring hollow, or at the least, smell a bit fishy.
          I will also wager MMM will come clean on this in a future blog post.
          I don’t have dogs or kids and am just calling it as I see it.

      • Richard September 12, 2015, 10:55 am

        Preferring kids over dogs makes sense, for many of the reasons given for dog ownership. For example if our evolutionary history makes it enjoyable to have animals around, it’s a lot more enjoyable to perpetuate the survival of our species (and your own branch in particular).

        For many of those same evolutionary reasons, it makes sense that people don’t always build a spreadsheet model before making decisions like this. We simply assume that whatever is common is doable by us. When you see everyone walking, you assume that you can get up and walk without having get out a physics textbook and do some calculations. When you see a lot of people running marathons, you assume that you could too if you put in the work. When you only see a few people in the country walking or biking coast to coast, you assume that it probably isn’t something you can do without dedicating a significant portion of your life to it.

        Generally this works but there are two issues we have. One is that the financial cost can easily be hidden. Our incredibly flexible economy makes it possible to mistakenly assume that people are capable of doing something when they are really just pretending to do it. And in some cases there are a few basic checks that would help us to see if the thing that our neighbour is doing is actually good for us. Talking about these more openly rather than making statements that assume everyone needs the same thing would help us make better choices.

        These instincts are not evil. They are the reason we are alive today (that, and someone else deciding to have kids). We just need to guide them a little, and possibly try to take advantage of them to make ourselves better off.

        • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2016, 11:36 am

          Thank you Richard! It’s amazing how few people in this comment thread get what the article is really about, which you clearly do:

          – Analyze your natural human impulses in the context of what we now know about our species as a whole (as well as our history, culture, and all of that).
          – Apply logic to decide whether or not to act upon these impulses.

          None of this has anything to do with “MMM doesn’t like Dogs! Kids and Pets are Gifts from God! Fluffy! Joy!”

          Those are valid emotions and I feel them to. But life is a tiny cage if there’s only you and your emotions, and you’re not capable of any logical oversight of the whole thing.

    • Taryl September 9, 2015, 11:29 am

      Man oh man did you open a can of worms!! My dog is absolutely worth the estimated $1200 I spend a year. Doesn’t have screaming fits, sticky fingers or a snotty nose. I don’t pay for a baby sitter but call on friends who like to have a dog around for a day or two. She protects the house from intruders and anyone coming to the door to sell something. She eats leftover food I’d normally throw away (yes, I know. My bad). More could be said, but others will take up where I leave off. Oh MMM. I feel so bad for you and your dogless family. I know Jr. MMM would love a pup companion. They really don’t have to cost that much money.

    • Jonathan Thompson September 9, 2015, 4:59 pm

      I agree. We often find it challenging to explain to people that we do not want kids and our cats are great substitutes.

    • Crystal September 15, 2015, 10:42 am

      and EASIER as well. Everytime my dog does something irritating (which isn’t often, but it happens, as hes not a robot) I remind myself hes easier than a child.

    • Terry Johnson March 21, 2016, 7:07 pm

      I have been financially independent for 7 years now, and travel a lot. Every time we see someone walking their dog, my husband and I look at each other and say, “enslaved human!”

    • Lynn September 6, 2016, 7:39 pm

      Dogs are gifts from God. They are His creatures, His creation and He did a masterful job. Of course there is responsibility beyond petting, but if you can afford it and you make the commitment, it can be the beginning of a beautiful and fulfilling relationship so much different than that of a relationship with another person which of course trumps all. But don’t discount the bond between a human and his/her dog as it is magical, wonderful and priceless. You will never fully understand this until you have owned a dog yourself. Only then can you fully engage in the discourse of owning a dog and I pray you have the luxury of doing so.

  • chris September 7, 2015, 9:53 pm

    Yeah. Ok. Thanks. Do you really think tpeople dont know the cost of dog ownership? Somethings in life are not about cost.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2015, 8:21 am

      Yep, I do think that. Just as I think most people misunderstand the costs of living far from work, buying trucks, watching TV, borrowing money, eating junk food, living a sedentary lifestyle and many of the other decisions we make in life.

      This entire blog exists because of my belief that we become happier when we become better at thinking the happiness benefits of each individual decision out before executing the plan. Every decision in life should be about the “cost”. Not just the monetary one, but the net inflow and outflow of benefits over the long term.

      In my view, most people with an already-busy life living in a city or suburb without a big surplus of money will see a net loss of life benefits by adding a dog. It’s then up to dog-wanting readers to consider that a challenge, and if they still think I’m wrong, to go right ahead and add the dog.

      • Yarrow September 8, 2015, 9:20 am

        Since college, (40 some years ago) I have always had at least one dog and often more. I started fostering rescue dogs in the late 1980s and about the same time became a show breeder of a small very easy to live with breed. I also team-taught dog obedience for 14 years. I can tell you that your
        costs can be much lower easily. We vaccinate our own which is legal (except for rabies) at a huge savings. Think 75 cents instead of 15 to 20 dollars just for the shot and a also the cost of an office visit. Dogs don’t need and actually should not have annual vaccinations which now more than 20 years of the data coming out , the the AMVA has finally realized. Even the manufactorers of heart worm pills do not suggest annual heart worm tests which are expensive. And the pills are quite high.
        And unnessary, as an owner can easily learn how to buy a at low cost the medication it is based on,
        And then give the correct amount monthly. While a active breeder we had 10 dogs and sometimes puppies or rescues. The heart worm medication we use comes in a bottle with more than enough to treat 10 or so dogs for at least 3 years and costs $45.00. In addition, those vets pills were giving me dogs 57 times as much melds as they should have.

        We live in a home in a town with a half acre and are legal . Spayed or neuter dogs have a very low license fees. When I actually showed and bred dogs after expenses it was $20,000 to 30,000 income annually. And I chose to keep my prices at the bottom of the range so that I could be VERY
        picky who got to get one. I am as picky for the rescues I foster. Most breed clubs take care of all the
        costs of rescue dogs.

        This is one area MMM where a little bit of knowledge just does not cut it. We reached FI with the help of the dogs. I am not going to even mention the ignorant comments about what dogs really
        need that are in your comments section.

        • Ken September 8, 2015, 9:47 am

          Of course, the vast majority of folks do not earn income or reach FI from pet ownership. Dog breeding, on the other hand, is a business, which can be profitable. In defense of MMM, his original post does not address dog breeding.

          See my post below regarding the fixed and variable costs of dog ownership. A properly cared for dog is not inexpensive. Whether or not pet ownershipis “worth it” is subjective. However, if you are struggling to pay your bills, or have any debt other than mortgage debt, you have no business owning a dog, IMHO.

          • Craig in Cary September 8, 2015, 12:01 pm

            Exactly what I was thinking, Ken…MMM”s post was about dog ownership, not breeding.

            It’s also possible to make income by buying cars, right? If you’re a car dealer, do restorations, or better yet, a NASCAR race car driver, you can make tremendous money off of car ownership.

            But that’s not who MMM is talking to in his rants about car clowns and the folly of long commuting, either. In those situations, it’s just an expense, not a business, though at least car ownership can *support* your actual business, aiding in income. Owning a dog is, in 99.999% of cases, purely an expense.

            And I say that as someone who has three dogs. But our income level makes the expenses for the dogs fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. MMM was pretty clear in targeting this article primarily at those who are at much lower incomes yet still have a dog or three. Even so, the points are valid for anyone to consider.

            One of our dogs (who is 12) had a $1300 vet bill this year, due to problems with his teeth (and yes, we brush and care for their teeth regularly). Another one had to have surgery a couple of years ago for breathing problems (soft palette resection) to the tune of about $700.

            With our combined > $200K annual income and fairly frugal lifestyle, we can pay these bills without any trouble, but it’s still painful to sign the bill. I can’t imagine people doing the same on a $30K income…but they do it, at the detriment of their financial well-being.

            Objectively, only the rich and/or FI households should own pets, but the subjective benefits are also unquestionable. It’s definitely a tough one.

            • Ken September 8, 2015, 12:29 pm

              Like you, our family has a 6 figure income and a net worth well into the 7 figures. We can afford a dog. With that being said, prior to MMM’s post, because of our dog’s cancer diagnosis and the vet bills that resulted, I’ve been thinking a lot lately regarding the cost of pet ownership. Our children know that our dog is dying and are already asking about getting another dog once this one passes. But, I’m having serious reservations about getting another dog.

              And, with all due respect to all veternarians, I was trouble by some of the advice received from the vets who diagnosed our dog’s cancer. Some of the advice seemed to be given in the interest of generating vet bills rather than in the dog’s interest or in the emotional interest of our family. The vet admitted that, statistically, a $1000 operation would only extend the dog’s life by 3-4 months, yet he pushed hard to do the surgery. In my view, that just does not make sense.

              It is very interesting to see how many comments MMM’s post has generated. Clearly, our dogs generate very emotional reactions; which I guess is to be expected.

        • Yarrow September 8, 2015, 10:04 am

          I should also say that we saved that money, having chosen a small home in a really good
          neighborhood. I am now retired and my partner who formed a booming small business
          is continuing to work by choice as she loves it. Now with me retired and on a single I come (plus social security’s) we are still living on just over half of our income and saving
          over 40 percent which is easy to do if you are both frugal.

        • Mike September 8, 2015, 10:47 am

          I tend to agree. I grew up on a farm/ranch where the dogs were essential for herding sheep and cows. Not only did this give me a love for dogs, but a good understanding of what it takes to raise and keep dogs. We had over a dozen dogs during my childhood and most required very little maintenance aside from a few trips to the vet for porcupine quill removal. They were fed good, but basic dog food and got plenty of attention.
          I think the major expenses most people see is when they seem to forget that dogs are animals. They don’t need a million toys or fancy expensive beds. They need food, water, space and attention.
          For most people owning a dog will still be more expensive than not, but it certainly doesn’t have to cost $2,000 a year. I also agree with MMM though in that most people (especially in an urban area) should not own a dog. Chances are people in a city don’t have either the space for a dog to be happy at home or the time to take the dog where there is space often enough.

        • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 4:40 pm

          I was going to post and say the same thing- STOP VACCINATING YEARLY! Its been proven harmful to their health, and the World Small Animals, American, Australian, New Zealand and British Veterinary Associations all recommend three yearly vaccinations (at the most). If your vet is still saying they need them yearly, find a new vet! It means that vet is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical company who wont change the label on the vaccine to 3 years (FDA cannot force them to so they dont) BUT there are 3 yearly label vaccines available, so find a vet who uses them, or at least ask. for them. Over vaccination has been proven to cause cancer and immune diseases in cats and dogs – which is why the protocol has been changed. So stop over-vaccinating and save some some money in vet bills down the line.

          • Swt3000 September 8, 2015, 8:56 pm

            Hi Yarrow, Could you share a bit more about where I can learn about doing vaccine’s and getting heart worm pills without going to the vet?

          • brooke September 10, 2015, 11:20 am

            What about boarding, though? When your boarder requires it to be updated in their system yearly, there’s not much you can do about that, unless you have a way around that.

            • Pat September 11, 2015, 6:13 pm

              And crossing borders – I have to show a rabies vaccine certificate when I enter the U.S. from Canada.

              Not to mention classes – agility, obedience, etc.

            • geekgrrl0 September 19, 2015, 4:37 pm

              Canada will accept a rabies titer test, which just shows that your dog is still vaccinated. These tests easily show the 3 yr rabies vaccination and most studies related to the subject show immunity lasting 5 years so far!! You should look into the titer test certificate…our vet is getting us one when my company moves me to Victoria next year and says she has done this for others who have had to move their dogs to Canada too :)


        • Jen November 23, 2015, 10:28 am

          Yarrow – will you share your heartworm and flea choices? I would love to look into this for my own dog…. Where do you order the vaccines from?

      • Cameron September 8, 2015, 1:26 pm

        The MMM posts I’ve found most useful go beyond the simple “Hey, doing X costs more than you think!” and instead go further: “Hey, doing X costs more than you think, but here are some tips for reducing the cost!” Many people value the benefits of owning dogs (or being dog “guardians” if you prefer…) beyond the monetary cost, similar to how you value, say, having children or eating meat despite the financial burden.

        A great example is your series about cell phone plans; some people get by without cell phones altogether, while others of us wouldn’t think of giving them up. Your posts about low-cost alternatives to the big wireless companies have been fantastic.

        A suggestion to improve this particular article would be to solicit reader feedback, such as Yarrow’s in this comment thread (since you yourself do not appear to own a dog), to give advice on, how to reduce vet bills, where to find good deals on dog food or services, whether pet insurance is beneficial, breeds which are lower-maintenance, etc.

        Including such specifics would bring some freshness and variety to these posts, which betray your preference for a lifestyle that looks like yours in particular rather than advocate for Financial Independence in general, however that may materialize for individuals with different preferences.

        • Fred20 September 8, 2015, 4:41 pm

          The cell phone to dog analogy is lame. I love dogs, but it’s a shame to see people who have them who are rarely home and live in urban areas.

          The biggest cost IMO is your free time.

          Are dogs awesome, sure. Should everyone have them, no.

          Just made me wonder how much money is spent on dogs vs helping out the needy/homeless. @_@

          • Cameron September 9, 2015, 10:15 am

            My comment wasn’t about dogs or cell phones, it was about how MMM writes strong and useful posts about goods and services he favors (cell phones, electric bikes, etc) and weak, ranty posts about those he does not (dogs, AWD cars, etc.) It makes it seem that he is advocating his particular lifestyle instead of Financial Independence in general.

          • RarinToGo September 11, 2015, 8:19 am

            In regards to your first sentence: it’s an article to article comparison, not a thing to thing comparison.
            In regards to your last sentence: how much of your money is spent on life-enriching things that could help out the needy/homeless? It seems pointless to think about all the money you COULD use to help out the needy; any amount of money you spend over the bare minimum COULD go to a different cause. If people aren’t spending their money on a dog, they aren’t going to run out and spend it on another person.
            In regards to everything in between: agreed, it’s a shame.

        • RarinToGo September 11, 2015, 8:14 am

          I agree 100% with this comment. MMM posts are most useful when he analyzes alternative means of getting what you want. If you want to get from point A to point B, you don’t need a car, try a bike, rather than “Don’t go to point B in the first place.”

          There is already a lot of this in the comments luckily, like the advice to administer your vaccinations yourself, etc.

        • Jess November 2, 2015, 4:23 pm

          Agreed. My dog is a working dog. And her job is finding lost people.

          I’m not going to give that up even though it costs a lot.

          Figuring out how to bring those costs down though would be great!

          Things I’ve figured out so far:
          – Look for dog training clubs for obedience classes. They’re cheaper, and seem to be of fairly high quality
          – Feed stores sometimes have lower cost/high end dog food

      • Dan Oswalt September 8, 2015, 9:48 pm

        “Every decision in life should be about the “cost”. Not just the monetary one, but the net inflow and outflow of benefits over the long term.”

        Well said. I would go as far as saying everything should be viewed as an investment. Like you said, not just monetary items. Your time is an investment.

      • Abigail October 11, 2015, 5:32 pm

        I learned this the hard way. What stumps me is why I can now completely grasp why kids and pets are not worth the cost (for me personally), I wish I was better at applying the same level of “OH-SHIT-THIS-IS-TRUE” to other expenses like enjoying wine bars and fancy meals on the road.

        It’s much easier when I am at home, where I love my Hulu, reading and home-cooked meals on the cheap. When I travel, though, I seem to lose my mind.

    • Leslie September 8, 2015, 10:44 am

      Before I adopted my dogs from the shelter I had no idea about the cost of vet bills. Yes, I should have researched that before I decided to become a dog owner. They thing is that they adopt you, and you are powerless over them. My husband calls that the big, brown eye theory of pet evolution. Sadly, my last dog past away and I have not adopted another one. I should have had the vet euthanized her when she started having trouble walking and had no bladder control. I was selfish and prolonged her life. My memories of my beautiful Akita will always be with me.

    • Janine Blackburn September 8, 2015, 5:59 pm

      Agree totally. I would sacrifice a lot of things before I gave up on having pets. We don’t have kids and that is not by choice. A fat bank account and no animals or kids is a bit pointless for me. We happily sacrifice most overseas holidays and plan our holidays so our dogs come with us 95% of the time.

      May be different if you are not an animal person

      • James Jr. September 9, 2015, 12:17 am

        Janine, my wife and I are in the same boat as you – childless, not by choice, and our rescue dog has been a godsend. He also comes to work with me, and my coworkers call him the CMO – Chief Morale Officer. He does cost money, but you con’t take it with you, and even with him added to the HH, we’re on track to be FI in 6 years or so. Totally worth it.

  • Brandon September 7, 2015, 9:53 pm

    I feel the same way, but I’m definitely in the minority. Can’t wait for the comments on this one!

    • Brandon September 7, 2015, 10:21 pm

      Leaving a dog alone (or even worse, in a cage) all day while you’re at school or work full-time is not just sad and unethical, it can drive the dog crazy. A crazy dog can find lots of ways to make you pay for its neuroses.

      We spend billions of dollars on pet medications every year, including “puppy Prozac” for dog anxiety: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/05/dogs-who-take-prozac/360146/

      Humor, re:pet healthcare – http://www.marriedtothesea.com/index.php?date=080612

      • John Dough September 8, 2015, 2:54 am

        I feel caging a dog is a poor substitute for training him.

        • brent September 8, 2015, 6:47 am

          I think Brandon’s point is valid. How do you *train* a dog to be happy with being left alone all day? House, tiny apartment, or crate. It’s still lack of stimulation. I know tons of people who leave their dogs alone for 9-11 hours each day while they commute/work.

          Dog gets a 15 minute walk, at best, before family sits down to dinner and tv time. Worst case, they skip the walk and simply let the dog out in the fenced backyard to bark, and bark, and bark, driving the neighbors insane. This happens all over my neighborhood and town. Seems kind of sad to me.

          Side note: I’ve noticed a new trend. People walking their dogs while texting/browsing. Used to be walking the dog was a chance to get out and get some nature time, or chat with other walkers. I see people routinely walking their dog and never looking up from their phones to interact with others, or even the dog they are walking. So weird.

          • brent September 8, 2015, 7:01 am

            This article kind of says it all. A lot of people, in NYC at least, are way too busy (or just irresponsible) to have dogs if they can’t even bother to clean up after them… inside the building! Fascinating article.


          • Craig in Cary September 8, 2015, 12:05 pm

            I agree. I’m fortunate enough to work from home, so our three dogs are rarely left alone. On the rare days that we go somewhere without them for 6-7+ hours and they’re left alone, I feel guilty…even though they’re merely “locked up” in our kitchen via a baby gate (much easier to clean up the rare mess that way).

            And even then, they at least have each other for company. And when I’m working, they keep me company. :-)

          • Vince September 8, 2015, 12:29 pm

            Maybe their dogs are seeing eye dogs and they don’t need to look up to know where they are going.

          • Barb September 8, 2015, 12:38 pm

            I’d suggest it depends on what you do with the dog when you ARE home, and what kind of dog you have -the size of dog does not always relate to the energy level. We had a lab mix and a beagle and both worked full time for the six years we were overseas. The dogs both had long walks before they we left, and long walk in the evening-usually while a bike was being ridden. They also went to soccer practice with my boys, and to the off leash dog park. The nanny cam showed them happily sleeping together on the couch most days.

          • PawPrint September 9, 2015, 12:26 pm

            I see this with parents and children all the time, too. It’s pretty sad.

          • Walter September 10, 2015, 10:27 am

            My neighbor up the street doesn’t even walk his dog. He gets in his SUV and drives around the block while his dog runs off leash along side. I couldn’t figure out what the guy was doing at first. Talk about a family that shouldn’t have a dog….

      • Matt September 8, 2015, 8:45 am

        A nitpick on “or even worse, in a cage”: our dog doesn’t get left alone for long/often, but when he does he is in his crate. This is actually for his peace of mind, not ours: when he’s left loose, he gets extremely stressed, paces, barks incessantly, and misbehaves in ways he doesn’t usually. We tried to patiently work on this after we adopted him (he was a year old when we got him), but after a few months accepted that he was just happier in the crate. When crated, he lays down peacefully and generally takes a nap while we’re gone.

        I’d also suggest that leaving a dog for a workday is not necessarily sad or unethical – it depends on the circumstances, the dog, and the workday. It is certainly something to consider before getting a dog though: what quality of life can you offer this fellow being?

        • Pat September 9, 2015, 5:19 am

          My dog naps a lot while I am home. She naps in her crate, voluntarily, the door is open and she uses the ledge as a head rest. When we competed in agility she was happy to get some down time in her crate (happy as in she dragged me to it so she could go in). Dogs are not people and the crate is not a prison. It is their den, their safe place.

          • Sue September 12, 2015, 12:30 pm

            Thank you both (Matt and Pat)–I agree completely with your comments. I, too, crate my dog. It gives her the downtime that she would not readily take on her own. She can be otherwise stressed when left to her own devices. She is a very healthy animal and gets the best care from me at minimal damage to my growing Stash.

            I agree Pat–Dogs are definitely NOT people! We humans do animals a huge disservice when we attempt to anthropomorphize them. Those of us who have spent our lives around animals (particularly on the farm) tend to understand this better than most.

      • Marcia September 8, 2015, 12:06 pm

        This is a very good point. I had a dog briefly as a small child. My husband grew up with a dog also.

        But honestly, now we have full time jobs (and 2 kids). Kids are in school and preschool. We do not have a dog for several reasons:
        1. We are not home. Dogs are social creatures. It would be cruel to leave a dog at home all day. We could get two dogs, so they have companionship.
        2. Size. Our house is small.
        3. The amount of work. While my husband and children would love a dog, the children are not the one doing the bulk of the work, and then my husband travels. Leaving the work to me.

        It’s not that I don’t understand the advantages to having a pet. I like pets. (I recently relented and got a fish). But they seem to be work and expense. My coworker’s dog died last year. After a year of illnesses that cost her over $10k (money she did not have).

        My friends have two dogs and are “dog people”. But their dogs seem to be neglected. They never walked their dogs, just let them run outside. (Eventually the dogs were older and could not walk well, but that was not always the case). They would get dogsitters when they are out of town, but eventually their dogsitters were awful – they would let the dogs pee and poop inside (and would just “drop in” instead of staying with the dog). My husband often was the back up sitter, so he’d end up going over 2x a day and cleaning up after the dogs.

        Having the dogs was fun for them, but the frequency with which they traveled made it an issue, and the dogs were too big to go with them. Well one of the dogs was put down, and now they are fostering another one. I’m not terribly sure that the mom is all that excited about it, but the dad is totally for it. It’s a smaller dog, so maybe they can travel with it.

        I guess I just don’t understand the draw people have to animals and pets. They are fine if you can afford them and they work into your lifestyle.

        There are a LOT of complaints on our local housing boards about the cost of living here and how hard it is to find a rental that will take dogs. Well, it’s true for a reason. For every one family that takes care of a place and has well-behaved dogs, there are 5 that just destroy a place.

      • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 4:53 pm

        Depends on the energy level of the dog – some dogs are quite happy to sleep all day and require very little exercise. Retired racing greyhounds are the perfect example – they like to do a little 2 minute sprint each day and then they sleep the rest of the time. Laziest dogs ever!

        Every breed has different traits – select one that is right for your circumstances. The worst mistake I see people make is buying a dog based on what looks cute rather than temperament, thus people who work all day end up with a husky or border collie that goes mad being cooped up all day. High energy dogs require highly active owners. If that’s not you, get a low energy dog that would rather curl up on the couch and sleep than go for a mile walk.

        • K September 9, 2015, 10:53 am

          So true! People seem to do so much research on having a baby, or buying a car, but when it comes to dog breeds, they just go with what looks good, and it’s often the dog that doesn’t quite work in with their lifestyle. Case in point, neighbors have a standard poodle. Poodles are SUPER smart, and sometimes nippy… but they leave the poor thing inside all the time and they have a toddler who isn’t the gentlest. They would have been better off adopting an older dog that doesn’t mind the rest, and was tested to be good with kids, plenty of dog rescues use fosters who can attest to the dogs temperament. Or they get a breed they didn’t know was hard to train: my parents did that with us kids when they got us a beagle.. cutest dog, but very independent and stubborn, ran away plenty of times with us chasing after her. You’d think people would stop using their hearts so much and use their heads, but even after all this time…..

        • Tom September 10, 2015, 6:12 am

          My family fostered a retired greyhound once, and it was like having an 80lb 6 ft tall cat.

          Also interesting notes on racing greyhounds – most have never been inside a house for any appreciable amount of time. So we had this 3 year old dog that didn’t know how to go up and down stairs, and was confused by sliding glass doors.

  • Stephen W. Gee September 7, 2015, 10:08 pm

    I feel like the freedom cost is the one most often ignored or misunderstood, to people’s detriment. I have so many friends who are effectively shackled to their homes by their pets, whereas I just spent the last eight month traveling around the country (and occasionally, the world), because there was nothing stopping me from doing so. And it’s been a wonderful, life-enriching experience, but fluffy could have ruined it all.

    One day, when I want to be shackled to one area, maybe I’ll get a dog. Until then I’ll enjoy other people’s dogs, and then go home to a place without dogshit.

    • Tammy September 8, 2015, 9:45 am

      A friend of mine once commented that “people with pets don’t travel.”

      • The Vagabond September 8, 2015, 9:48 am

        Definitely not uniformly the case, though I could probably accept that pet owners tend to stay closer to home. We’ve traveled over a month of this year so far thanks to our network of great friends who we share pet sitting responsibilities with. When they need our help with their pets, they have at, and when we need some help, we have it– all at no additional cost, and great peace of mind!

        Admittedly, it take a little more preparedness and some time to build a network, but it’s been really effective for us.

      • barb September 8, 2015, 11:48 am

        Umm. Of course we travel. Sometimes withthe dogs (coming road trip to South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana for example), and sometimes without. When done without, they are in someone else’s home, having a two week play date. I rarely travel more than two full weeks over water at a time, but that’s about me, not the dogs.

      • Rebecca September 8, 2015, 12:11 pm

        My husband and I travel much more than my sister-in-law with a toddler does. We just traveled across the country for 3 weeks in May, and our dog went with us! It was a wonderful trip, and I’ve never seen our dog so happy! The longest our dog has been boarded is when we went on our honeymoon to Greece. For every other vacation, our dog comes with us.

      • Janine Blackburn September 8, 2015, 6:01 pm

        Or travel in such a way that the animals go with them. Love my holidays in the Coromandal by the beach and bush. We even go in winter so the dogs can go on the beach, Bonus being not crowds of holidaymakers.

  • Anthony September 7, 2015, 10:14 pm

    My wife was a veterinarian tech (nurse) for many years. A common problem was pet owners were often unprepared for when their furry friend needed a costly medical procedure to save their life. For instance, one dog ate a child’s sock and it got stuck in the intestines. That’s $5000 right there. Often if the owner couldn’t afford it, they had the option of surrendering their pet. The animal would get the treatment but would be adopted out to someone else.

    • Kitsune September 8, 2015, 7:48 am

      See, maybe I just spent too many formative years around livestock and farmers (and their inherently pragmatic view of nature) but: I have a cat. I love my cat. I would never, EVER pay 5K for an operation for my cat.

      Real-life example: my cat is starting to have thyroid problems. I firmly believe that my duty as a cat owner(own-ee?) is to provide my pet with an excellent life (healthy food, interaction, space, medical care for exceptional issues, vaccinations, etc), and, once they reach the point where their health is failing, to let them go without insisting on twice-a-day medication for a cat who is no longer enjoying life.

      (I’ve also been called ‘cruel’ and ‘heartless’ by animal lovers when saying this, and been asked ‘would you say that about your grandmother?’ To pre-empt the comments: No, I would not. Because my grandmother is not a cat.)

      This may also be the pragmatic thinking that lets me raise cuddly bunnies for meat. I feel that we have a responsiblity to ensure that the animals you raise have the best life possible and are slaughtered ethically. I have MAJOR issues with factory farming. Slaughtering rabbits, though, not so much.

      • sockgal September 8, 2015, 12:59 pm

        I agree. I know so many friends and family that have spent $1000’s keeping pets alive with chemo, operations, and expensive medications, to only extend the pet’s life for months, maybe a year. To top it off the pet’s quality of life is horrible. I find it more humane for pets to not have to go through this torture. I have three cats. Two of them are only indoor due to a requirement from the adoption agency for all pets to be indoor only. They are now 9 years old and I feel horrible that they have not experienced life outside. It’s all about quality of life. Sure they will live longer indoors, but they miss playing in the grass, laying in the sun, and playing with other wildlife. I think animals need to retain some of their wildness in order to be healthy and happy. It’s not a popular view with the humane society.

        • MicrobeMama September 9, 2015, 8:40 am

          “Playing with other wildlife”?!? This sounds like a Disney inspired idea of what cats do when left to their own devices. While many people do not regret the dead and dying rodent bodies that their cat leaves in conspicuous places, they should be horrified by the devastation that is also wreaked on the beneficial lizard population. Cats kill far more songbirds than they need to be well fed. Especially since pet cats already have a reliable daily food supply.
          A tenant who had signed an indoor only cat clause before moving into my rural house (in an area that is a birding mecca) justified feeding a feral cat because the cat was too timid to catch the quail that used to frequent my yard. I asked if she really thought the cat was too timid to catch and eat the many helpless chicks that were confined to the nests in the area. That is where the greatest damage is done.
          But then, maybe you weren’t implying play that is mutual and non-lethal. Maybe you regret that your cats missed out on the opportunity to use a living animal as a tormented plaything. If so, my apologies for assuming you to be naive in this matter.

      • Naomi September 13, 2015, 12:40 pm

        I think there’s a distinction between paying for expensive treatment to extend the life of an elderly pet which is not going to get better, and paying for expensive treatment after which the pet will be completely better (like removing the sock) and can go on to live many healthy years. I would not pay for chemo or other treatments which would let my pet live slightly longer but not cure them–to be honest I think that’s cruel to the pet. But if my dog was injured and an expensive treatment would make him completely better, and he was expected to live many more years, I would pay for it. For example, a woman I know adopted a dog which was found with a broken leg. The leg had to be amputated and I’m sure it was expensive. But the dog is now healed and happily hops around on three legs, running and playing with other dogs, and she considers the expense worth it.

    • DCResident September 10, 2015, 1:40 pm

      While I see the other posters’ points about that being a lot to spend for a medical bill for a dog, how has no one mentioned that the dog was sick because a child (presumably) left their sock somewhere it shouldn’t have been? Sure, kids will do that type of thing, but the expense is at least as attributable to the kid as it is to the dog. It’s fundamentally different from throwing money after a pet’s chronic illness that you couldn’t prevent and had nothing to do with.

  • MarciaB September 7, 2015, 10:14 pm

    One of the great ways to benefit from a dog without owning one is to “dog share” a neighbor’s dog. Have an agreement with a neighbor that allows you to grab the dog and go for a walk. Grab the dog and head to the beach. Grab the dog and have a fetch-the-ball session. Win/win/win! The owners have a dog that’s exercised and happy, you have gotten your dog fix, and the dog is thrilled with the attention and exercise.

    You don’t need to have your own dog to benefit from a dog. Crowd-source!

    • Brandon September 7, 2015, 10:23 pm

      Great idea! Pitching this one to the girlfriend :)

      • FlatWave September 7, 2015, 10:29 pm

        That works great for us. Our dog goes on all sorts of adventures without us. And we get pictures of her trips to the beach or hikes with siblings and parents.

    • Kiwikaz September 7, 2015, 10:35 pm

      An even better idea for those who don’t want to commit is to volunteer to foster a dog for a local animal rescue group. They take care of the vet bills, and you get the pleasure of a dogs company while they wait for a home. Plus you feel good knowing you have saved it from being killed in a pound.

      • Jordan Read September 8, 2015, 1:32 am

        Fostering is great. I still do it on occasion, even though I already have two dogs. It’s a wonderful experience. Don’t forget the other benefits though. Not only are you saving a dog’s life, but you have the potential to work with that dog and get them trained well enough (or more importantly…train the new owners) that they live a long, safe, healthy life.

        • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 5:20 am

          I had two dogs of my own and did it (fostered the same breed so everyone got along). 21 fosters I had through my home. The last one stayed. I now have 3 dogs :-)

      • Tom September 10, 2015, 6:23 am

        My wife and I raised puppies for The Seeing Eye. You have the puppy for about a year, and at minimum attend a monthly meeting and activity, while doing basic good dog training and offering exposure opportunities to the puppy to benefit them later as a working dog. TSE covers vet bills, and subsidizes other costs with a stipend (probably covers 90% of food cost). Any trips you take them on (for the explicit purpose of exposure for the dog, of course) is tax deductible charitable mileage. The program is great, and they teach you a lot about how dogs learn and how they behave. You also learn a lot about the blind people who gain independence from having a guide dog.

        We did 3 puppies, #1 works in Arizona, #3 is in Texas, and #2 never got matched with a person and is now retired with us at home.

    • Nick September 7, 2015, 11:08 pm

      Or if you’re entrepreneurial, start a side-business walking your neighbors dogs!

    • Gwrath September 8, 2015, 5:13 am

      It’s a great idea! I had dogs growing up and I thought I would definitely have a dog. I tried to convince my wife of the benefits to dog ownership to no avail. I realised that the only thing I really missed was having a trusty companion for a walk. So, I’ll be walking a neighbours dog pretty soon. All the benefits for the cost of a plastic bag…

    • Tammy September 8, 2015, 9:48 am

      Or volunteer to walk the dogs at your local animal shelter.

  • Mrs. J September 7, 2015, 10:19 pm

    I am sure you are going to be in the dog-house for this post. (Come on, you HAD to be expecting such a horrible pun…) I wholeheartedly agree. My sister-in-law has given up her life for her animals, all because she can’t live without them. $600 for cat dental surgery, $1,000 for tumor removal (guess what came back 6 months later, but more aggressively than before) the list, unfortunately, literally goes on and on.

    My parent-in-laws (is that the right term?) can’t afford to board their animals when they come visit, so we don’t see them very often. They have literally chosen their dogs over their grandchildren. It makes me sad…

    You are very smart, and I am glad you had a response for the “I can’t live without them” argument. I haven’t been able to come up with something, although it does fall on deaf ears because “they can’t live without the animals” so they don’t really care what we think.

    • Chris September 8, 2015, 1:48 pm

      I think you hit the nail on the head. Your in-laws (that’s the term ;) ) will argue that they aren’t choosing their dogs over their grandchildren, but in the end, it’s all a choice. I think what MMM is doing is reminding us that it’s a choice and that we can actively do it instead of doing what social pressure insinuates we should do!

      We have two cats and leave them home for upwards of 10 days (with extra litter boxes, food, and water). That’s our limit. Longer than that, we’d have our neighbors check in on them.

      Dogs, as your in-laws have shown, are a whole different animal though!

      • anthonyjh21 September 8, 2015, 5:25 pm

        I have to question whether or not you’re listening to your sister in law (or that she isn’t explaining it thoroughly). Odds are it’s both of you not listening and not understanding, in large part because of the disagreement on this subject matter.

        The reason I assume you don’t know the full story regarding your sisters pet with the tumor is because I literally went through this exact situation over the last few months, eventually letting my 11 year old lab to go in peace last week. I found out she had a tumor in her mouth in May. After careful consideration of the options, we decided to have it removed. It was a 3 hour procedure (from the moment we dropped her off) and she was eating and happier that same night than she was before it was removed. Unfortunately it grew back after a few weeks and we had to do what was necessary when the time came that her quality of life was gone.

        The reason I outline my story is because in this instance is because it was possible that they could remove the tumor, cotarize the area, and that it wouldn’t come back. Worst case it grows back and only buys a few more months of life. Given this information the decision to have it removed (only once) was a very easy one given the relatively minor surgery (she said it snapped off) with an upside either way.

        My point here is people are entitled to their opinions and it’s not of my concern (or yours) what decisions we make. However, what’s the sound of one hand clapping? As a former (awesome) professor once told me, you can’t form an opinion without knowing both sides of the story. I’m not trying to change your mind on whether or not oral mass removal was justified. I am only wanting to shed light on the other side here as someone who has gone through this experience and I can’t help but feel that from your response you weren’t made fully aware.

        For what it’s worth, I have no problem with MMM position here. He even went so far as to let his sister give an opposing view. I thought this was a well done piece, regardless of whether or not I agree with him (he makes many valid points).

    • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 5:00 pm

      Or perhaps they simply prefer the company of their dogs to yours? I’d rather spend time with my dogs than most of my family as well.

      But if it bothers you that much, why dont you offer to pay for their boarding costs, or why dont you travel to visit them? They’re probably sitting at home complaining how you never bother to visit them and how you are preventing them from having a relationship with their grandchildren.

      • anthonyjh21 September 8, 2015, 5:35 pm

        Lol I can definitely relate to rather spending time with my dog than some family. Listening to superficial discussions (a lot of materialism and who is going to the yacht club that weekend and who isn’t) isn’t in my comfort zone. Much rather go for a hike with my pup who doesn’t listen and likes to lick his rear all the time and then pant in my face!

      • Abigail October 11, 2015, 5:45 pm

        This may just be me, but it seems ludicrous to suggest that someone who has created human beings either a) pay for another person’s animals to be boarded in order to engender a relationship with grandkids (not just a woman to her in-laws or between adult siblings), or b) take children to visit adults instead of adults putting up their animals? In what world is this sane? Do you know what an incredible effort it is to travel with young children? How selfish is it for two grown adults to prioritize animals over living, sentient, and self-aware children who could benefit hugely from the grandparents’ influence?

        Okay. Deep breath. Obviously, I have seen family members struggle and hurt a great deal over this, so I admit that I am biased.

        On a more agreeable note, I do completely know that sometimes, the company of one’s own friends (or, in your case, pets) is preferable over being near family. I just wouldn’t ever expect someone else to put forth extra financial or time effort to come to me if I had made that choice…although, on a practical note, I do understand that if you care more about the relationship than the relative, that may be, unfortunately, necessary. I personally would not suggest it to a third party as a viable option, however.

    • JoDi September 8, 2015, 8:11 pm

      Just wondering who it was that moved far enough away to require overnight visits and dog boarding? Was it your in-laws or you & your husband? I ask because as the one in my family who moved several hours away from where I grew up, I’ve always considered it my responsibility to make overnight trips to visit my parents and siblings regularly. They have come to stay with us at times, but we have made more trips to visit them by far since I’m the one who chose to live where I do. Now, if your in-laws are the ones who chose to move a distance away, then I could totally understand your expectation that they would come visit you.

  • Ken September 7, 2015, 10:25 pm

    Thanks for speaking out about this. I’m single and for this reason I don’t have a pet. Also think about all the pets that are not cared for properly because their owners are neglectful, or under financial strain.

    • Mags September 7, 2015, 11:53 pm

      I”m in the same boat. I would love to have a dog (or cat) right now, but being single and far away from financially independence it would just be a stupid and selfish. I remember taking care of the family labrador as a teenager when my parents would go away and thinking “you really need two people to look after a big dog properly.” I know I would feel so guilty if I selfishly got a pet and didn’t/couldn’t take care of it properly.

  • FlatWave September 7, 2015, 10:27 pm

    You forgot the hair. Oh, the humanity… and the hair. We have small rabbits invading daily, or at least it looks that way due to the hair.

    But we love our dog. It will be hard when she goes, and she has been such a wonderful dog with our kids that we will be very hesitant to try to replace her. That, and the hair…

    • Ellen September 8, 2015, 1:11 pm

      And don’t forget the stuff they carry inside the house from their fur. My dog always has some leaves, small branches or seeds in her fur that end up on the floor. :-)

      We feel the same way around here, we have a wonderful dog, a friendly, happy dog. When she dies, hopefully still many years from now, there won’t be a next dog, at least not for the next 15-20 years.

  • M from Loveland September 7, 2015, 10:28 pm

    You’re partially right in this post. However, as you also mentioned in an older post, having kids is optional too.
    In my case, I can’t have kids for medical reasons. Those medical reasons are such that having a dog can benefit my health. I totally understand the costs and the trainning needed to own a dog. I ran the numbers before making the decision. So, there, I’m getting a dog pretty soon.
    So, I’d say I’m more on your sister side ;)

  • Kiwikaz September 7, 2015, 10:39 pm

    First off, I would just like to correct you. If aliens looked down they would see that Cats rule the planet. Dogs are merely servants. Every human cat owner knows who is boss, and it aint the dog!

    Secondly, I challenge you to write the exact same post and substitute the word “dog” for “child”. The planet needs depoplulating – you could do your bit to convince everyone to stop breeding because its expensive, inconvenient, and a waste of resources. The planet will thank you. And maybe those aliens one day when they come to take the planet over.

    • SisterX September 7, 2015, 11:00 pm

      He actually did write something along those lines. Check out his post about only having one kid: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/10/great-news-youre-allowed-to-have-only-one-kid/

      It’s not “don’t have any kids”, which would have been hypocritical since he’s got a kid, but it is about having far fewer kids, even no kids, and trying to take the stigma out of such a decision.

    • ams September 7, 2015, 11:07 pm

      Kids eventually grow up, pay taxes and run the institutions that will care for us when we’re old and feeble. Sadly, dogs never will.

      • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 6:11 pm

        Are you raising your children to choose a vocational career taking care of old people? Or are you like all the other rich white people who turn up their noses at the thought and think “My kids are too good for that”. So yes – the answer to an over populated planet is to bring people from impoverished, heavily populated areas in to richer, lower populated areas. These immigrants will probably be the only ones willing to wipe your ass in your old folks home, while your kids are too busy doing “real work” to take care of you.

        • ams September 8, 2015, 6:45 pm

          ‘Care’ encompasses more than direct care. Elders also rely on functioning banks, power generation, food systems, government, entertainment, etc., etc..

        • Ksco September 9, 2015, 5:08 am

          I 100% agree with you Kiwakaz. The crush of people and the strain on natural resources is just overwhelming, particularly in low and middle income countries like India. I feel guilty about wanting to have a child because I think the most ethical action is to choose not to add to the burden of humanity on our plant.

          It makes no sense to encourage people to have more children when there are millions of willing migrants who will move to countries with low birth rates, work hard, enrich society, and relieve some of the pressure in highly populated, poorer countries.

      • Jeff September 9, 2015, 10:00 am

        Indefinite growth within a confined space is fundamentally impossible. That a population plateau has some negative consequences in no way makes it avoidable. The only question is how much it hurts – which will be largely determined by how long we try to pretend we can grow forever.
        Aside from that, it’s unwise to conflate individual choices with collective ones. Steady and slow population growth has *always* been achieved through a mix of childless and high-producing couples. An individual can do great good for all the children of the world – enhance their odds of success, peace, prosperity, etc – without ever making one; others might raise many children who benefit from those efforts. Functionally, it’s just a form of specialization.

      • k September 9, 2015, 12:24 pm

        What if your kid just grows up to be a drain on society? Ends up in jail? Ends up mentally unstable but with the state of mental healthcare in this country, they don’t get the care they need? What if they are physically enabled, and you don’t have the means to pay for that kind of round-the-clock help? Did you factor those options into your ideas about having kids? What about the loss of teachers daily because they are not paid what they should be? You’re sending a child into an ill-prepared educational system for the amount of students that are present. What if all your child wants to do is get married to a rich man and shop all day, without contributing anything worthwhile to their community? I find there are two sides to every story, and MANY sides to look at before making a decision, especially one as life changing as having a child.

        • k September 9, 2015, 12:25 pm

          physically disabled ******

        • Marcus September 29, 2015, 10:59 am

          And what if his kid becomes the next Elon Musk and solves many major obstacles that humanity faces? If there’s one thing we can learn from history it’s that humanity has ultimately always risen to overcome its challenges. The pessimism in your post is what keeps us down. Optimism and curiosity allow our creativity to flourish.

    • PatrickGSR94 September 8, 2015, 5:40 am

      Lol I came here to write the same thing about cats running the place.

    • Mr CB September 9, 2015, 12:18 pm

      The whole “overpopulation” idea is ridiculous. What happened when Europeans felt Europe was overpopulated? They moved to the new world. (They may have displaced a few of my ancestors, but it seems to be working out now.) The idea that we will run out of resources and destroy this planet is crazy. Humans are adaptable, infinitely creative and we live in an infinitely expanding universe with essentially limitless resources. When this planet starts to get too full we’ll start to spread out, first to the moon then throughout our solar system, then throughout the galaxy and on through the universe. The idea that one more human being will destroy the whole world is nothing more than justification for people that don’t want kids. If you don’t want kids, fine, but don’t use overpopulation as the argument to avoid having kids.

      • Pat September 10, 2015, 5:31 am

        Um, we are already running out of resources. The easy metal ores are gone. The easy oil is going. The best agricultural soils are depleted or eroded.

        Plus, only a small fraction of the European population migrated to the New Worlds (South and North America). Only a tiny fraction of the present population will be able to leave the planet. The rest of us will still be here, coping.

        Yes North America and Europe have falling birthrates. Most of the rest of the world is still having more children than are needed for replacement.

        And yes, I follow my principles – one child family here.

        • Mr CB September 24, 2015, 12:10 pm

          Humans are creative. We will find new resources and/or more efficient ways of using/obtaining the resources we have. Technology would eventually drive down the price of space travel. (Think computer cost 30 years ago compared to now.)

          This has little to do with replacement. It is more about giving another (unborn) human being a chance at life.

      • kiwichick September 12, 2015, 3:48 am

        Spread out through the solar system? Are you kidding? There are no habitable planets in the solar system. The nearest star system is over 4 light years away. It would take 165,000 years to get there with current technology.

        • Mr CB September 24, 2015, 12:04 pm

          I’m not sure why you would think I’m kidding. Many of the planets in the solar system are uninhabitable with current technology but technology advances with time. The same goes for traveling to another star system. It might take a long time with current technology but future technology would solve that issue. In fact you will probably find that an urgent issue will advance technology quicker as happened with the space race of the 60’s.

  • The Vagabond September 7, 2015, 10:50 pm

    I can acknowledge the logic of what you’re saying here, and appreciate the even-handed approach to man’s best friend, even if your own proclivities don’t run that way. I am the owner of two great dogs, and at the very least, the leash pulling me homeward is longer than the equivalent child-leash would be. We regularly go traveling (over a month this year so far and counting) and they are well taken care of in our absence, at no additional cost, thanks to our network of similarly-minded folks.

    As to the cost, it’s possible to keep it under control (I’ve written a fair amount about this recently), and it’s mindful spending. It’s as controllable as our compulsion to protect our human young– probably far more so. Plus, finding that we are limited by pet ownership has a considerably more finite timeline than finding we dislike parenting a small human. :)

    Anyway, I respect your decision not to own dogs, and think your sister’s response pretty much sums it up. Thanks!

  • SisterX September 7, 2015, 10:54 pm

    To those who think that the “I just can’t live without them mentality”, I’m quite certain you have your own sacred cows. Home ownership? Travel? Kids? That first cup of coffee in the morning? Sure, you could do without it. But would your life be as rich and full and happy? Does every decision you make HAVE to be based on logic and what’s best for the bottom line? And if so, that sounds like kind of a sad life to me. Where’s the passion in that?
    I see my pets as a comparatively small price to pay for the sanity and other benefits they give me. Warmth in the night, when the cat comes to snuggle. The dog to hold when my mother’s Alzheimer’s gets to be too much for me. I have my family and they’re great but sometimes, the fact that the pets can’t talk to me is a blessing.
    Also, as long as you do preventative maintenance (brushing their teeth, clipping nails, bathing, grooming, walking, etc.) yourself and get them regular vaccines, they don’t have to be that pricey. The dog even helps with the whole “don’t clean out your wallet” idea because she happily vacuums up all the toddler crumbs. :)

    • The Vagabond September 7, 2015, 10:59 pm

      I also see my pets as money well spent, as I see many of the same returns. One of the less-frequently mentioned pluses to pet ownership (though I can only speak from dog ownership) is that they challenge me to be more compassionate. Say what you will about whether we project human emotions onto them, but when my dog interrupts an argument, running back and forth between me and my fiancé, licking our faces and making peace, it’s hard to see her as anything but a net positive, and it encourages me to “be more dog.” I am enriched and improved as a person by having owned my dogs, and that is priceless to me.

      • anthonyjh21 September 8, 2015, 5:52 pm

        Love what you wrote and I couldn’t agree more about making us more compassionate. I was reflecting on what I’ve learned (and could learn) from my dog Bella being put to sleep a little over a week ago. I realized that she’s taught me a lot about myself, both good and bad.

        I grew up in a less than warm household and having pets has acted as a conduit to further push myself to be more dog. What I’ve learned cannot be quantified or put into a spreadsheet either. I’m forever grateful to her for this life lesson and I’ll continue to become more compassionate and patient just like she was, and when I struggle, she’ll be my constant reminder and example of what to strive for.

        • k September 9, 2015, 12:29 pm

          So sorry to hear you had to put your dog down, I bet she was a real sweetheart! Dogs really do teach us patience and compassion and can be a sounding board for ideas, I find myself talking to my dogs all day long, it’s nice as an introvert to have companionship that doesn’t talk and interrupt my quiet time :)

    • Jordan Read September 8, 2015, 1:28 am

      Every decision doesn’t have to be based on logic and the bottom line, but they should be…including pets. I’m a pretty big dog person myself, and do all of the preventative maintenance. I also am fully aware of how expensive (including houses, the need for a yard, and the like) they are. However, as I mentioned in my comment below, there is a spot on my spreadsheets for emotional items, and what they mean (or what they cost) to me. Passion also plays a part, and a big one at that. If I were you, I wouldn’t assume that running the numbers and passion are mutually exclusive.

      • Aaron September 8, 2015, 7:54 am

        Agreed. Logic and passion aren’t mutually exclusive. But living life completely with one and not the other is not the kind of life anyone should live. With this you can have your cake and eat it too. Use logic when it comes time to decide IF you should get a dog. If you are at the point in your life where you shouldn’t be getting a dog then don’t get a dog.

        If you are at a point where you can handle a dog (financially, time, lifestyle, emotionally) then and only then let your emotional part get involved. What type of dog? How many? Let’s find the perfect dog for me. Then you can have the daily exercises. The night time cuddle sessions. The good and the bad and everything in between.

        So many people out there will argue with MMM’s posts on nit-picky little things. MMM never says DO WITHOUT. Instead the push is for you to make conscientious decisions in your life. Don’t assume something is required or necessary just because your neighbors/family/friends have or think they need it. Know that all these things aren’t really necessary, they are all optional things we have decided to include in our lives and if we truly don’t want them then we can do without (and may be richer in the process by excluding). But if you want it, have it! Don’t go without living life. It’s not about being a miser. It’s about spending money where you really want to spend it instead of spending it without thinking.

        • SisterX September 8, 2015, 2:08 pm

          I really wasn’t arguing about the fact that pets are optional. There are plenty of people who own pets who really shouldn’t have them, just as there are people who have kids who shouldn’t, people who own cars and houses and boats who shouldn’t. I just disagree with the idea that this should be a completely emotionless, logical decision.
          There does also seem to be a certain segment of non-pet people who have this visceral “eww!” reaction to pets. Hair! Feces! Germs! These things color their stance on pet ownership and aren’t really logical reactions, but that doesn’t come up in their arguments.
          Basically, the main points of the post do resonate with me, but I just thought it was silly to put so much logical emphasis on this point when owning a pet isn’t about logic, it’s more of an emotional thing. If you look at it truly logically, almost no one would think, “Ah yes, the numbers all work out that I should get a dog. I don’t care for them, but it’s only logical so I’ll get one.” No, you get a dog because you love dogs and they enrich your life in non-monetary ways that make paying for their lives totally worth it. The online sites to look at different breeds also help because you can easily find one that will suit your lifestyle, no guesswork involved.

          • Aaron September 9, 2015, 9:36 am

            I agree with your statement that owning a dog shouldn’t be a completely logical and emotionless decision. I’m just saying (not that you are implying this) that it also shouldn’t be a completely emotional decision.

            From your initial post (but you’ve explained since) you seemed to think that some of us aren’t living life to it’s fullest because of making logical choices. Sometimes it is very hard to make these choices. Sometimes you really really want to do something else but you know it would be wrong to do so. As you know, there are some people (for financial reasons) that a owning a dog would be a bad decision regardless of any other reasons. For others it’s in the grey area. And for others it won’t affect them financially at all (perhaps already financially independent, or someone else pays the expenses) and so it can be a purely emotional choice.

            Personally I’m a dog person. Been one my whole life. But I have not owned a dog at every point in my life (it would not have been fair to the dog and couldn’t afford one).

            So I’m not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that one needs to use both logic and emotion when it comes to deciding on dog ownership. Otherwise I think you will regret it either way.

    • Merrie September 11, 2015, 7:33 am

      I think that while one might make decisions for ultimately emotional reasons, one (at least a Mustachian one) should consider the costs before doing that to make sure that they can afford them. Sometimes the answer to “This will cost X and have ___ effect on our long-term plans, is it worth it?” is “Yes”. But if you don’t even know how much it costs, you might be getting yourself in over your head without realizing it. I’m not much of a pet person (I might have gone for a cat, but I married a guy who’s allergic, so I’m okay with not having any pets) but I wouldn’t have given up my desire to have children for any amount of money. But I did wait until it made a certain amount of financial and practical sense. If you know the price of having pets and you can afford it and want them anyway, then that’s great.

  • ams September 7, 2015, 10:56 pm

    When I was a kid I loved dogs. These past few years I’ve realized what an imposition most dogs are on society, with their pooping and lack of respect for personal boundaries. This is made worse by the popularity of fighting breeds where I live.

    BAN ALL DOGS. Cats too, while we’re at it. They crap in my kid’s sandbox.

    • Joe September 8, 2015, 6:55 pm

      Yes, an imposition on society sums it up nicely. And 9 out of 10 dog owners never make eye contact or talk to me – a fellow human – while their small horse of a dog is haranguing me with some happy crotch sniffing, or suddenly chasing after me on my bicycle, or climbing uninvited into the backseat of my wife’s car. “Cooper!” they yell. “Cooper, no!” “Cooper. Come back here.”

  • Kyle September 7, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Does anyone really care about grass dying? If that’s something that vexes you, maybe re-examine your life choices.

    • darren September 8, 2015, 1:57 pm

      If it’s my grass and the perpetrating canine belongs to someone else, then yes, yes it does vex me.

  • dave September 7, 2015, 11:27 pm

    Pet ownership is supposed to have great health benefits to the owner that may be hard to measure in dollar terms. Great company to those living alone. Perhaps they are worth the cost. We always had a dog when we grew up I believe we had a total of three dogs. Always loved playing with them taking them for walks.

  • Freedom35 September 8, 2015, 12:31 am

    “How will you take your dog across town on a bike”? Just like this of course: http://i.imgur.com/3buyvw8.jpg
    I couldn’t help but share that picture for the dog and bike lovers out there.

    There is probably an angry mob gathering with pitchforks now to deal with you, but I agree with most of what you said, everything should be analysed and done for the right reasons.

    Couple small points:
    Buying commercially prepared dog food might be relatively ecologically sound as dogs are still filling that scavenger niche they always did, now for economical reasons: there’s a whole lot of parts of animals that don’t make it into human food (usually for cultural/ick factor reasons), it’s pretty cheap to take that waste product and turn it into dog food. That’s why it’s not usually cheaper to make your own dog food, unless you somehow have access to very cheap bulk waste meat product.

    Dogs (like children) are a source of free drugs: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/the-look-of-love-is-in-the-dogs-eyes/
    That’s probably better and cheaper than buying black market oxytocin at least.. :)

    • Jordan Read September 8, 2015, 1:20 am

      That’s not a real dog…I have taken both of my guys (both over 70lbs) to the vet. It was fun!!

      • Freedom35 September 9, 2015, 3:15 pm

        Your comment is a convenient excuse to link an article that I think is a good read for current and potential dog owners: http://www.thatmutt.com/2012/08/27/why-did-you-want-a-dog/

        the point she makes is that you should think through explicitly the reasons you want a dog, how to make that best fit in with your lifestyle in a responsible way for both you and the dog, and then make sure you carry out that plan. That is being rational about the process and enjoy life fully.

        I think that is the same point MMM is making (if you give him a generous read and ignore the ax he has to grind with dogs..).

        How that ties into your point: I had always wanted a large dog, but I had no real reason why, other then I wanted one.
        When we started discussing dog ownership, my wife was insistent on a small dog. If I list the reason I want a dog: walking/hiking buddy and socialization, then all of those things work with a small dog. A small dog also happened to fit into our lifestyle in a convenient way: less food costs, less housing and travel restrictions, simple to groom ourselves, etc. (I should listen to my wife more often).

        The point being that I think it’s always reasonable to think out your reasons for a decision, and not succumb to embedded biases.


        • Jordan Read September 10, 2015, 8:08 pm

          That’s actually a good point. I personally went the other direction. I determined what I wanted in a dog, and then got the embedded biases. :)

          Seeing as how I’ve met MMM, I don’t know that he specifically has an axe to grind with dogs. As mentioned elsewhere around the comments, he feels similar about dogs and kids. I’d guess that getting dogs is more often an intentional decision. Kids can sometimes happen because they are fun to practice making, while getting a dog isn’t as fun (in my experience).

          btw, that was a great article. Thanks.

        • joy September 11, 2015, 4:54 pm

          Same here. My 10 lb dog is a chihuahua/terrier mix – she’s hearty enough to go on real runs and hikes with me, but small enough that her care scales to an easily to stomach line item on my budget. Plus, if I absolutely had to, I could carry her on a plane with me.

          You also forgot that their poops are smaller. Much much smaller.

          • Crystal September 21, 2015, 12:43 am

            Yep! I’ve been advocating small dogs for ages. The other problem is alot of the larger breeds are “working” breeds of dogs and aren’t really meant to be pets anyway. They can be pets, but its a constant square peg round hole situation (I know I train dogs professionally, and deal with peoples inapropriate and frankly stupid breed choices constantly).

    • Chris I September 9, 2015, 5:18 pm

      I rigged up a way to get my two 45lb dogs on my Xtracycle bike. Works great, no car required. :)

  • ThatGirl September 8, 2015, 12:38 am

    Ah, but if I’d waited 10 years to adopt pets then my cats would have died as kittens and my dog would have been euthanized. I know they’re expensive, but knowing that I saved 3 lives is worth it. Plus, they keep me warm in the winter & I get more exercise than I would without a dog to walk.

    Would you please write a post like this about kids? They’re optional too, & pretty much all the reasons against dogs are valid for kids as well. I’ve been disturbed by barking dogs fewer times than I’ve been bothered by newborns wailing, toddlers tantrumming, & kids just generally being dicks. And I’m fairly sure that kids are more expensive than pets, based on how much my nephews eat & how many times they’ve been to the ER. I see fewer upsides in parenthood than I do in pet ownership, to be frank.

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 8, 2015, 5:37 am

      You are right, That Girl – It turns out that kids are optional too, and you’re also allowed to have only one: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/10/great-news-youre-allowed-to-have-only-one-kid/

      The big upside is that kids are likely to grow up and become smarter than you, while pets remain dependent, then get sick and die while you are still alive.

      • Leon X September 8, 2015, 12:25 pm

        Tell that to the folks with autistic kids, kids with Down’s, and any myriad of other mental deficits. Even if your kid is perfectly healthy, look at all the Millennials and Gen Z’s failing to leave the home after graduation to enjoy a rent-free existence to their 30’s (see NEETs in Japan for more on that).

        No the argument that kids are GUARANTEED not to be forever dependent is weak at best. Most grandparents I know kick in a lot to help their kids raise generation 3 (i.e. paying for college).

        I think this is an interesting topic you chose to discuss MMM. It’s right on the edge of the frugal vs life enjoyment line for many people. I don’t personally understand why anybody wants to have kids in a world with over 7 billion people, but I absolutely understand the desire to have a dog. My dog won’t get addicted to heroin and pregnant at 16.

        The world is full of disappointing children (and parents).

        • Baron September 8, 2015, 9:19 pm

          “I don’t personally understand why anybody wants to have kids in a world with over 7 billion people.”

          If you don’t get this, then you either are not very smart or not being honest with yourself. I can see not wanting kids, but not understanding makes no sense.

        • Chris September 9, 2015, 6:45 am


          I am “Folks” with an autistic kid, and I do not consider her a disappointment. The special needs assistance dog we owned for a couple years was a MASSIVE disappointment. So, as someone who has had both a dog and a child that you would consider “disappointing,” I feel rightfully qualified to call you an ignorant piece of shit.


          • Eldred September 9, 2015, 1:50 pm

            I believe you over-reacted here, Chris. I don’t think Leon was ‘putting down’ special needs children. He was simply countering MMM’s argument that kids will one day grow up and become independent. As you can probably attest, that isn’t always the case.

            • Mike September 10, 2015, 8:36 am

              I disagree entirely. If anything, I think Chris has under-reacted. The idea of everything in life being a choice is a prevailing theme in this thread. The words one uses to communicate ideas are a perfect example. Leon X could just as easily have made his point while leaving special needs out of it, as in “not all children grow up to be fully independent” full stop. He chose not to, instead choosing to spread even more ignorance on top of the long and tragic legacy of human ignorance when it comes to Down Syndrome, autism, and other special needs, even going so far as to equate being born with a genetic condition with having some sort of “mental deficit”. Willful ignorance is a mental deficit; having a disability is not. One thing that will definitely NOT lead anyone to financial independence is ignorance, so in that vein I” point out that the percentage of special needs children who will eventually lead completely independent lives is far greater than the percentage of domesticated animals who will achieve the same milestone. The divorce rate is also lower for parents of special needs children than the married population in general, which is a positive if you are seeking FI. In my opinion, by spreading ignorance Leon has earned every bit of ridicule that comes his way. Thank you Chris for advocating for the special needs community.

            • Mike September 10, 2015, 8:48 am

              Oh and more good FI news for parents with special needs kids: the public school system tends to have much higher quality special needs programs than private schools, probably because they are trying to solve an education problem and not a marketing problem. And, in my area at least, fees are waived regardless of income.

        • Mike September 9, 2015, 8:07 am

          Parent of a child with Down Syndrome here. So, tell me what, exactly? BTW, if anyone has any tips on how to manage a singularly independent-minded toddler, fire away!

          • Mike September 9, 2015, 8:30 am

            One note on the “child substitute” value of aa dog; in my experience this does exist but drops to zero when an actual child comes along. The dog used to be our “kid”. Now the dog is, well, a dog. A furry, friendly, loveable, hyperactive, whining, barking, annoying, shedding, eating, pissing, shitting money hole.

            • Chris September 9, 2015, 10:16 am

              MMM needs to cut and paste this into his post.


              People should specify if they have/had kids and or a dog before they comment on the comparison.

            • Chris P September 20, 2015, 6:46 am

              Yes! It doesn’t work that way for everyone, but we were actually afraid that we wouldn’t love our child as much as our dogs. Until she was born…… and now the dogs are just dogs.

      • ThatGirl September 8, 2015, 1:44 pm

        I don’t think these two posts are comparable. This one seems to be very firmly discouraging the acquisition of a dog, whereas the other article asserts that I’m not having a full Human Experience without kids (which is quite offensive, FYI) even though both of these are emotional decisions that aren’t really fiscally responsible.

        It’s kind of annoying having my emotional choice examined, denigrated, and dismissed while you failed to objectively do the same to your emotional choice.

        • Eric September 8, 2015, 2:29 pm

          It’s kind of annoying having my emotional choice examined, denigrated, and dismissed while I find it very entertaining when you do the same to others emotional choices.

          • Ken September 8, 2015, 5:15 pm

            Good one…… It does often depend on whose Ox (or sacred cow) is being gored……

          • ThatGirl September 8, 2015, 6:43 pm

            I don’t really find MMM entertaining when he does this. I usually find his online persona rude, judgmental, & dickish. But I keep this blog in my feed because he does have a lot of good points under all the bullshit.

            I’m not asking that he spare my particular choices from scrutiny (he’s already lambasted travel, spending money on personal grooming, etc) but I would like to ask that he gives himself the same treatment.

            • Tyler September 8, 2015, 11:17 pm

              Start your own blog and find out if anyone finds you entertaining or if you can make any good points without any BS. I think you’ll find it difficult to gain millions of readers. “Only the guilty find the truth to be hard”, so if you find him “dickish” it’s probably because you know consciously or subconsciously that he is right. That makes you uncomfortable so you lash out with childish words. I think that means you could benefit from an honest evaluation of your life or finances or values or whatever it about you that you feel is being attacked by this very well written and logical post about the perils of pet ownership.

            • ThatGirl September 10, 2015, 4:13 pm

              As I said, I follow the blog because he has a lot of great points. And I also pointed out my specific foibles that he’s criticized. I have happily changed a ton of my daily habits because MMM has been RIGHT about a lot of stuff. But I stick by my opinion that doling out face punches, & telling drivers to get a catheter/bedpan is dickish. It’s also a great, controversial way to get millions of readers. It’s not the choice I would make, which is why I won’t have a blog or millions of readers.

              At no point did I say that I feel attacked, or that his post isn’t correct. All I did was ask for an equally honest post about children, which are just as optional as dogs but are seen as less optional by most of society.

            • Mr. Frugal Toque September 9, 2015, 6:55 am

              That’s kind of funny because, if you’d ever met him, you’d realize he is *constantly* giving himself the same treatment – examining, questioning and calculating his own decisions past and present, trying to determine where happiness comes from and where his time and money are best spent.
              The self-improvement tips you see in this blog are entirely the result of things he’s learned from ruthless self examination and comparison with mainstream behaviour.
              He comes off as dickish only because he has the same expectations of his readers as he demands of himself.

            • ThatGirl September 9, 2015, 10:38 am

              Obviously not, because his “you can only have one child” post is an ode to childrearing. It is 100% a justification of his emotional decision to have children. And he very nicely sums up the awful parts of parenthood as being worth it for the joy of cuddling his kid. I don’t think that’s ruthless self-examination & he fell right into mainstream behavior despite the financial drawbacks.

              Here’s my real issue: with the “having one child” post he had a really great opportunity to critically examine a choice that’s more ingrained than car culture and costs people hundreds of thousands of dollars. He could have really emphasized the money/time/freedom suck aspect of parenthood and pointed out all the negatives, but he pulled his punches because he’d already decided that the happiness he derives from childrearing is worth more than the money to him.

            • Mr. Frugal Toque September 9, 2015, 11:48 am

              We can hardly expect a parent to wish for the nonexistence of a child.
              But he takes a really frank look at the child-rearing experience and says, “No, that’s enough. We’re deciding not to do that again.”
              I’m not sure how more self criticism you’re looking for.

            • ThatGirl September 9, 2015, 4:06 pm

              Perhaps by admitting that he hasn’t written an equivalent post about children instead of presenting his previous post as the same thing? Or, as I said, writing a truly honest post about the downsides of child rearing & acknowledging that he gave up money/time/freedom for love, which is EXACTLY the decision dog owners make?

              Mostly I’m just angered that these two choices (having kids & having pets) are both financially stupid & based on emotions, but because his is more mainstream/accepted, everyone is willing to say “yeah! Kids are WORTH IT!” Being child free is still pretty uncommon & his post doesn’t really adequately show that it’s a valid choice, perhaps because it was never a choice he would make.

            • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:14 pm

              I’m 100% with ThatGirl on this. I got the same impression. I agree with the pet observations he made, but I believe he was incredibly weak on the child article. If he truly ‘self-examined’ he should come to the same conclusion and fess up to his error. It just screams ugly hypocrisy and that never goes over well.
              In the interests of disclosure, I have neither dogs nor kids. I guess I’m just…impartial.

            • Chris P September 20, 2015, 6:57 am

              The value of this blog is to have you really THINK about what your decisions are and try to understand the full impact they have. MMM does a great job showing the side of things many people don’t consider when making common decisions that people make. As a matter of fact, a lot of the times, these decisions are expected by society and not thought of at all as an option. It’s always been known that you move forward from that information by choosing to do it or not…but you are then making a (hopefully) FULLY INFORMED decision.

          • Chris September 9, 2015, 10:22 am

            I always thought this blog was about getting punched in the face for making poor money decisions. For many, a dog is a very poor money decision. For others, it’s not. Same goes for a new car, big house and fancy vacations.

            I also have a feeling MMM would strongly encourage you to exercise your right to tell him to FUCK OFF.

            • Mr. Money Mustache September 10, 2015, 7:27 am

              Chris, you’ve played some great defense in this comment battle – thanks for that! You and Mr. Toque get it. That Girl seems to assume that this article is different from the kids one, which it is not.

              They are both reminding us to evaluate something that virtually EVERYBODY does these days (dogs, one or multiple kids), and yet doesn’t really need to do.

              When sane people (aka non-dog-crazy people) read this article, they have asked me, “Why did you make it so pro-dog?”

              Also, OF COURSE it is more rational to display preference to raising humans over dogs. This blog’s WRITER, and ALL THE READERS, ARE FUCKING HUMANS!!!!

              We owe our very existence to a preference of humans over animals. In fact, most of us chop animals up and EAT THEM, just as most of those animals in turn do the same to other animals (although without the benefit of barbecues or utensils). THIS IS BIOLOGY! IT IS THE WAY OF THE PLANET!

              All of the philosophical principles behind this happiness-based blog only work because they are aligned with human nature – the stuff that is bred right into our genes.

              However, sometimes these instincts can be short-circuited by social patterns (marketing cars to appeal to status desires, plugging 127 grams of delicious sugar molecules into your paleolithic taste buds, or adopting cute snuggly dogs when you have 3 kids and credit card debt), and in this case the results are not good.

              It’s humans all the way, baby, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

              But of course it is also fine, and great, not to have children. I’d actually personally prefer if more people chose zero kids. I just thought that one was a good compromise, as explained in the “decision making table” in that article on kids.

            • Christine Wilson September 10, 2015, 9:34 am

              Personally I don’t even get your argument about eating animals and telling us its the way of biology and the planet? So? What’s your point? That it’s good? That it will always be the same for humans forever more? Just because something is, doesn’t make it a good choice. And humans have a tendency to change these things. Bill Gates has invested in Beyond Meat – a company making plant based meat products and scientists are working on lab meat. Both mention the benefits providing nutrition to a growing planet, with added bonus that we don’t murder animals anymore.

              Humans are a little more complicated than biology. Sometimes we have the ability to step out of it through our own inventions. Birth control anyone?

              And while you have a natural preference towards children, not all people do actually. It isn’t a natural instinct for all of us. But most people still need some form of companionship. And to choose a dog for that companionship is very insulting to call crazy.

              Some people were just looking for the articles to be a little more even handed. But I think you are confusing your preference with “the way of the planet”. You may be in the majority, granted. But not all humans are programmed to have children. And not all need to. The ones that don’t are usually in a better position to help contribute to society and families of this planet. Cooperation and coordination is a huge part of human civilization. Its not all about breeding.


            • Christine Wilson September 10, 2015, 10:03 am

              What really bothers me is justifying Chris’ insults and then throwing your own in. I didn’t say you were crazy. I said I disagreed. There’s a pretty big difference. And while you shouldn’t be ashamed to have a preference for humans.. maybe you should be ashamed at throwing insults when the posts I read above did not call you names.

              I thought you were about intelligent arguments.

            • ThatGirl September 10, 2015, 4:36 pm

              You just highlighted my point by stating that you “thought that one [kid] was a good compromise.” If not having kids was truly as much of an option as not having pets, then I think this article would have had one dog as a good compromise as well.

              Whether or not to have kids isn’t really a choice for most people. Even in countries with great access to family planning, most people grow up thinking that it’s just what you do. Based on my experience, most people don’t seriously consider opting out of parenthood. I think you had an amazing opportunity to reach tons of people & make them seriously consider zero kids as a valid option. Instead, you played into society’s pressure to have kids & chose to focus on just decreasing the number of kids people have.

              As Christine said, not all humans prefer other humans. I know there are many people out there who don’t want to have kids and there are also many people who have kids but wish they didn’t. Perhaps we’re not fully human, though.

            • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:23 pm

              With respect, you screwed the pooch on this one. If you truly think your articles were written the same way, you are blinded by your own ego.

              Your thanks to your sycophants for disrespecting others is seriously crass too. I’m sure you feel proud.

              I don’t know, I think once upon a time there was good stuff here. I guess everything has its season.

            • buckhamman December 24, 2015, 1:08 am

              “That Girl seems to assume that this article is different from the kids one, which it is not.
              They are both reminding us to evaluate something that virtually EVERYBODY does these days (dogs, one or multiple kids), and yet doesn’t really need to do.”
              ThatGirl ASSUMES they’re different. Assumes? Sure they both remind us to evaluate common, yet prohibitive, actions, but that’s where the similarities end. Your child article is highly emotional, describing your challenges and appreciations of parenting through your anecdotal experience. This article brutally attacks pet ownership and its financial and time costs. The child article outlays your own experiences with a child, which were (gladly) highly responsible and rewarding. This article often notes others who are irresponsible with pets, and exemplifies their pet’s behaviors to other people. The child article concludes that, despite great hardship, parenting is worth it due to the feelings they give you and giving you “the full experience of humanity”(whatever that means). This article calls many dog owners emotional or crazy. I could go on. I mean, where is the assumption made. She very clearly read both articles, commenting on things you stated in both to respond to others.
              “When sane people (aka non-dog-crazy people) read this article, they have asked me, ‘Why did you make it so pro-dog?’”
              I read most of the comments, and have yet come up to one person who asked you that, but I’ll take your word for it. But from what I have read, many people with and without dogs have criticized your articles accuracy, clear bias, and tone. And while their may have been some crazy and purely emotional responses to your article, there was a lot of critical analysis of your points and lack thereof.
              I, and many others, agree with many of your points in this article, but you clearly use a lot of emotion in talking about and supporting parenting, but attack emotional responses to dog owners. While, yes, people are irresponsible and don’t put enough thought to adopting and taking care of their pet, the same is true for many parents and kids. And while, yes, the struggles and costs of parenting can be worth it by the joy a child gives you, the same can be said for pets. While neither article is inaccurate, per se, they both seem to consider a similar issue from totally opposite and biased perspectives, making you seem logically inconsistent.

            • buckhamman December 24, 2015, 1:55 am

              Well, as soon as I post this, I instantly regret my decision, or at least my lack of care in it.

              Allow me to fix my grammar mistakes:

              There should be spaces between paragraphs (I wrote this on a google doc and copied and pasted it without checking, doh!)

              ThatGirl assumes their different?(? instead of .)

              I mean, where are assumptions made?(Instead of “I mean, where are assumptions made.”)

              your article’s accuracy(instead of articles)

              Probably a host of others I haven’t seen.

              I also have a condescending tone and made too long of a response in this narrow response format. I apologize for this being too painful too read.

            • buckhamman December 24, 2015, 1:57 am

              Oh, and ‘they’re’ instead of ‘their’. In my grammar corrections, not the actual article ironically.

            • Mr. Frugal Toque September 10, 2015, 10:37 am

              Read Chris’s post again … carefully.
              Tell me what “insult” you think Chris made and how MMM backed it up.

            • Christine Wilson September 10, 2015, 10:42 am

              It was in response to my post, not ThatGirl.

              “Anyone who continues this argument needs to be written off as a crazy dog person.

              Do any of these people have kids?? Please specify. If so, then DAMN!!!!! I feel sorry for them.”

            • Christine Wilson September 10, 2015, 10:46 am

              Obviously MMM didn’t directly justify Chris’s insult. But Chris was being insulting IMO – I don’t call people crazy. MMM maybe didn’t read that post. But then he again used the word “crazy” – I assume in reference to ThatGirl since he’s replying to the posts.

            • Christine Wilson September 10, 2015, 10:50 am

              Sorry.. I was being unclear.

              But then he (being MMM) used the word “crazy” – I assume in reference to ThatGirl since he’s replying to the posts.

              So there seems to be support with insult calling in general. Is what I am saying.

            • Chris September 11, 2015, 2:02 pm

              I’m sorry I insulted you. I enjoy this blog for its brashness and vulgarity, and I propetuated it in a way that was inappropriate.

              YOU are not crazy. Your love of dogs is NOT crazy and should not need to be justified or defended.

              I am baffled by the fact that someone would think that owning a dog is as gratifying, fulfilling, or vital to the human race as procreating. Maybe this is not what you believe. Maybe I took your words out of context.

              Still, I think dog lovers are way over-reacting to this post. If you love dogs enough to wage war, then you should probably have a fucking dog regardless of the cost.

            • Chris September 11, 2015, 2:03 pm

              I also apologize for misspelling perpetuated.

            • Sabaq September 12, 2015, 3:58 am

              Wow! I haven’t seen this kind of zealous reaction to someones opinion in a long time!

              To the readers of MMM, I am assuming that you all come here for similar reasons as myself. That is to help develop a healthy approach to personal finance and hopefully learn something that may hasten our collective march toward early retirement.

              That does not mean that you MUST agree with absolutely everything you read here. YOU have the CHOICE to read what is written here and then DECIDE for yourself what action you would take. If you want to save money and cut your wasteful habits like I am currently trying, then this is the site for you.

              If you don’t like what he says, by all means, argue your point but why try and bait the author and other readers (Christine and That Girl).

            • Christine Wilson September 14, 2015, 6:53 am

              Well I was just talking about logic vs emotion. I don’t care if someone prefers kids vs dogs. I simply think both are emotional choices. Maybe the difference is more I think emotions help human beings but don’t mean much beyond that. Like I do agree with MMM that certain things as human beings we need. Things that are emotional. However, the emotions themselves to me don’t mean anything. Hence, I think the two articles can be compared to each other. On a logic vs emotion basis. I do think the emotions once you have kids is indeed stronger than that of dogs. (At least usually). But does it mean because one creates stronger emotions, that it can’t be compared?

              So yes, I think you took my words out of context. I didn’t say that dogs were the best thing in the world! From my brief sentence.. it was really just about logic vs emotion.

              To Sabaq: I reacted maybe too strongly. I get annoyed with being attacked on here if one doesn’t agree with MMM’s point of view. It seems less about a real debate and more of “you are wrong and crazy”. Which no, I don’t appreciate. Its easy to follow the leader.

            • Mike September 17, 2015, 8:09 am

              “as vital to the human race as procreating”

              I have neither a dog nor a kid, but I do want both someday. But having kids is a very selfish choice in a world that is already far too populated with our huge carbon footprint. If anything, it’s vital that more of us choose not to have kids, because the population growth is exponential.

        • Kevin September 18, 2017, 4:47 pm

          i disagree that having kids is a purely emotional decision. how can anyone with an understanding of evolution assert that? it is literally our oldest purpose.

          • Kevin September 18, 2017, 5:12 pm

            i should add – of course we can step outside of our evolutionary history based on our own value systems, and more power to you if you do. it is the apparent equivalence between kids and pets that many people are making in this comments section that irks me. they are not the same. a future human can be ethical, responsible, independent and make their community and the world a better place. obviously, not all people do, but dogs have no potential in that respect. they are forever dependent, forever taking more out of the system than they give back, serve only limited and highly subjective purposes, have no potential to advance human understanding of anything, scientific or otherwise, and no potential to create future humans who do the same.

            in the pro dog section of the article you see things like “confidence”, “therapy”, “adventure”. nice things sure (although tiny in scope and entirely selfish), but light years away from contributing to human society at a scale even the smallest (figuratively) human does, to say nothing of “invents the newest green tech”, “discovers new cancer treatment”, or anything else that benefits human understanding, quality of life, or lowers suffering.

  • Elle September 8, 2015, 12:40 am

    Great post.

    As an Economist, I think of dogs as luxuries. Meaning, they are great, fun, enjoyable…I can understand all of the appeal.
    But I also believe in covering all of my necessities before purchasing luxuries. I think that if you are making enough money and have enough time and own a big enough property to care for a dog or twenty, go for it! But if you are barely scraping by and can’t afford to feed/provide health insurance for yourself, I wouldn’t go for it.

    Just like any luxury, I think that if you can easily support yourself and save plenty for your future goals, then you deserve to treat yourself to a dog. Otherwise, I can’t justify this purchase more than buying a designer bag or luxury car (also, dogs live for a long time!)

  • Berin Kinsman September 8, 2015, 1:06 am

    “Therapy for the socially odd” should include helping socially awkward people in the workplace. I miss having a dog in the office; she kept me from strangling annoying coworkers and having a total stress breakdown before and after pointless meetings.

    • Anonymous September 8, 2015, 9:21 am

      > I miss having a dog in the office; she kept me from strangling annoying coworkers

      As someone quite allergic to dogs (at the “can’t function, get away or go to the hospital” level, not the “minor sniffles” level), a reminder that an office dog only works if absolutely everyone in the office likes or at least can put up with dogs. It’s hard enough to find great coworkers, and you’ve added “must like dogs” to the list.

  • Jordan Read September 8, 2015, 1:19 am

    What a great post!! And this is coming from someone who is definitely in the dog camp. I have two of them, and love them. However, you are absolutely correct. When it comes to pets, and kids, emotion goes out the window, and that’s never a good thing. Someone who posted earlier said that thinking about things only from a logical standpoint sounds sad. I’ll reply to them, but I’ve always put pets in the emotional category on the Emotional Balance sheet. Just look at the issues Rebs had with a cat!! He is out there living the life and has caught FIRE, but it almost got delayed by trying to find a home for the cat. As I mentioned, I have two dogs, and they are amazing. They guard my chickens, and bring me a great amount of joy. However, I have worked out the numbers, and feel that everyone should do so. You are correct in saying that people (me included) look through an emotional lens when it comes to dogs. One of the reasons I take into account while moving around is actually Breed Specific Legislation. I refuse to give my tax dollars to a city that has it. It’s one of the many reasons I won’t move to Denver proper. These dogs are the last I’ll own for a while. They should be close to dying by the time I catch FIRE (which will suck, and be rough to get through), and I’ve found that the math adds up, but is not conducive for a lifestyle of slow travel. There are many different discussions about this on the forums. It’s definitely a hot topic, and there is a huge amount of emotion. If you’d like, I will take all of next year and break down the actual fiscal numbers (and they will be high, because I feed them specialized food). It will be good.

    For those of you who read this all the way through, I received the idea of an emotional balance sheet from The Goblin Chief, and the link talking about it is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/business/an-emotional-balance-sheet-can-guide-hard-to-quantify-financial-choices.html?_r=0

    • Kiwikaz September 8, 2015, 1:32 am

      Pets do bind you to a place. But there are alternatives to paying for kennels while wanting to travel, or foregoing it altogether until they die. You can get a house sitter for a few months while you travel, and you in return can housesit for someone in another place and look after their animals. I am thinking of doing this in a few years – spending a few months a year in another country, housesitting for free, someone else’s pets for company, getting to feel like a local rather than a tourist, and it won’t cost a fortune – meanwhile someone will house sit for me and my pets, and enjoy living where I live.

      • Jordan Read September 8, 2015, 2:25 am

        Thanks for the response! I will happily infect myself with OMY syndrome for as long as my dogs survive (and I’ve never and will never put my pups in a kennel aka day care), as my travel plans aren’t a few months. I don’t intend to come back to the US for at least a decade.

        That being said, that is a great idea overall. I hadn’t thought of that due to the above comments, and my vision of life after I catch FIRE. But I will pass that along. What a good idea.

        • spartana September 11, 2015, 3:15 am

          Or do like I’ve been doing since I FIRE’d at age 42 – take the dog with you! I’ve been doing long car camping and/or bicycle touring trips with all my dogs (down to one now) of a couple of months each. They can go kayaking, hiking, mountain and road biking, and even rock climbing. While it can be a pain in the butt and limiting sometimes, it is doable, inexpensive, and fun. I had 3 cats and 3 dogs when I first FIRE’d . They all cost me very little both pre-and post- FIRE – especially if I was to compare the cost of raising even one child in it’s entirety from requiring more than a one bedroom or studio apt, medical and dental insurance and care, child care costs, clothing, food, entertainment, education, travel, sports, hobbies, and so on. While everyone should look at all aspects of their financial goals in regards to getting pets or having children…or anything else, don’t assume it is always a huge expense or something that ties you down anymore than a child does.

      • casserole55 September 11, 2015, 9:45 pm

        I’ve mentioned this in another article – my dog’s best friend is my best friend’s dog. They are both only dogs. When we go away, our dog has a vacation with her best friend at my best friend’s house. When my best friend goes away there is a sleepover at our house with her dog. It’s fun for all of us – both human and canine type creatures. Zero dollars involved. BTW this set-up correlates with MMM’s recent article on the value of a having local tribe.

  • Anna September 8, 2015, 1:28 am

    Crikey – you had to pick THAT subject right now didn’t you. Depending on how things work out I am 4-5 years away from retirement. I would NEVER get a dog while I am working because I am gone 12 hours a day and that just isn’t fair. But I have been giving a lot of thought to getting a dog (springer spaniel, border collie) when I retire. We had a collie when I was a kid and I loved it and even walking it. I figure it will force me to get out and exercise and that alone is a tremendous antidote to depression. BUUUUT I love to travel and the dog would be put in a kennels for a couple of weeks while I am away. Not a problem. There are some great kennels round here. What worries me more, though, is the spontaneous “oh I’ll just stay over at my friend’s house tonight” or “hey let’s stay in town for dinner”. Having been on the receiving end of a lonely dog barking ALL NIGHT LONG I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone. Maybe one of your commentators is right – offer to dog walk for a neighbour (I did that once until the dog died) or at the local dog’s home. I hate dilemmas like that but at least I have time to think about it. A very wise lady I met in Croatia put it best I think – “if you CAN live without a dog, do so. I can’t!” I think she’s right. Anna

    • Marcia September 8, 2015, 12:17 pm

      Thank you for considering the lonely dog all night thing…

      Our neighbors got a dog a few months ago, and they had one night mid-week where they were out late at a function. Their dog barked until they got home, at 11 or 12 at night.

      I go to bed at 9 pm, so it was a rough night for me, being awake for 2-3 extra hours.

  • John Dough September 8, 2015, 2:52 am

    Your sister is as smart as you, and articulated some excellent points.
    I have introvert tendencies. My dog gets me outside talking to people.
    I did bikejoring with them when I had two, and they were younger.
    They changed my life for the better, and I like to think I did the same for them.
    Optional? Yes.
    Worth it? 100%.
    They pull their weight in non-financial ways, and financial ways; “sorry, I can’t waste money with you on , I have to walk my dog.”
    They eat food scrap/bones etc, saving on trash bags in the long term. Ok, I’m stretching it now.
    Petting them lowers stress, enabling you not to quit your well paying job before saving your ‘stash, and costly stess related medical issues.
    Dogs read your emotions, and cause you to put on a happy face, and thus feel happier. My black Lab mutt was expert at keeping me happy.
    My dogs kept me calm and patient as I waited months for a fantastic short sale home purchase to come through.
    There are many hidden benefits and life/happiness improvements which can be pivotal in a pecuniary sense.

  • vexed87 September 8, 2015, 3:01 am

    I bought my dog before finding out about financial independence. Big mistake for many reasons, but I could never give him up, nor if I went back in time would I tell younger self to thing twice about getting him. My dog costs me approx; $26 a month in pet food, plus the occasional treat or toy ($20 a year max, like kids they need companionship and leadership, not plastic consumer crap!) and a one off $60 third party liability policy (for life) but the dog has saved me far more by curtailing expensive nights out on the town and squandering the odd (expensive) break away. I wouldn’t say he’s impacted my chances of FIRE’ing. He cost’s me less than an iPhone 6. It’s all about priorities.

    Some people see a dog as a major limitation, I agree to some extent, particularly when it comes to finding a good rental place. However, I for one am glad I have my furry excuse waiting at home for me every day.

    Sure, emergency vet bills can cost you a far whack of your net worth if you’re a junior mustache, however insurance can be very cheap. Who wouldn’t give up their stash to save their best friend? Sure, when we are debating the pro’s and con’s of that Starbucks coffee, we can use rationalism to debate whether takeaway coffee is worth it, but can you really take the emotion out of discussing a living breathing thing that brings you joy day in day out?

    Choosing to get a dog means accepting the limitations it places on your life, they are a massive liability, but one that I believe gives back way more than they take away.

    • Anonymous September 8, 2015, 9:24 am

      > the dog has saved me far more by curtailing expensive nights out on the town

      Interesting point of view. Unfortunately, probably not a very universal one, as most people refuse to give anything up, and will instead either do it anyway (howling notwithstanding) or find ways to spend even more time and money to get to do what they want.

      • Elaine February 24, 2016, 7:04 pm

        Or insisting on taking their dogs absolutely everywhere with them. There are some places dogs should not be taken to, for both their sakes and for the sakes of others. But a lot of owners can’t/ won’t see that. They seem to think that their dogs are equal members of the family and should be treated the same as humans.

  • kyle September 8, 2015, 3:59 am

    My girlfriend’s father was living with us for a short time and they bought a dog, he went off the deep end and went crazy, so we had a dog. She recently went off the deep end, now I’m single and have a dog. I never really wanted a dog for all the reasons you mentioned, but I can’t give her up now. She never barks, even around other dogs. She doesn’t run away and listens to commands well. I just picture she’ll get a worse life if I give her up, plus I get more companionship now that I’ll be alone a lot more often. She gets to come to work with me and my bosses offered to watch her if I have to go on job sites.
    My logic says no, but I’m not going to fight emotion either. Just have to plan around life’s curveballs, I’ll still retire in about ten years.
    Biggest problem with dogs, besides financial, is you need to be there for them all the time. If you travel they just aren’t socially acceptable like kids are. You can’t bring them to the stores, most people don’t even want them over at their place. You’re definitely on a curfew like you said. My yellow lab is 2 years old now so I’m in for a long time, she’ll probably see me retire.

  • Wea September 8, 2015, 4:33 am

    For a very long time our family provided sitting services on DogVacay.com !!
    We got our dog desires satisfied, had a lot of fun, AND made a lot of money!!!!

  • Rachael Herron September 8, 2015, 4:54 am

    We used to collect stray animals like freaking hoarders until I started to budget (YNAB FTW). Three years later, we know that each animal costs our family an average of $130 a month.
    We’re down to five beasties, and look forward to attrition to two (not that we don’t love each dog/cat — we’re just not going to replace).
    My SmartCar seems to be a bacon-scented beacon in the night for stray dogs and cats — seriously, they hurl themselves at my car, and I rescue at least one or two a month (we live in a poor neighborhood where very few people spay/neuter) but knowing this math makes it easy to adopt those fellers right out.

  • Don September 8, 2015, 4:58 am

    True, logic needs to come into the picture when deciding to get a pet (or have a child). Can I really afford this? Am I prepared for the commitment it takes? But if you work through that and answer positively to every question, go for it. Just like having a child, owning a pet is a money commit that’s going to delay retirement/financial freedom. But, in most cases, the joy a pet or child can bring far outweighs the financial costs. One of our dogs had a medical issue earlier this year that ended up costing us about $6k when all was said and done. Was it worth it to save my best friend’s life? You bet your ass it was!

    • Mr. Frugal Toque September 9, 2015, 7:20 am

      I think the case is that with children, we often see exaggerated headlines telling us how much raising a child costs (One MILLION dollars!). So we have to look at the costs realistically, realize that we don’t need to put a child through 17 years of Ivy League private schools etc. etc.
      With pets, the concern is the opposite. People do buy a puppy without realizing that the time commitment is quite high and that the costs are more than just the food. So, when you’re making the decision whether or not to have a pet, take a realistic look at the time and money burden.

      • The Frugal One September 10, 2015, 8:31 am

        I have a relative who got a dog just for their dog so the dog could have a friend while they were working. Talk about unexpected costs!

      • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:28 pm

        The exaggeration works both ways. If the child raised doesn’t result in the Hollywood ending parents expect…there’s plenty of other potential costs that can rack up too….financial and emotional.

        Unless you have a pet elephant, chances are you can get out of a pet ‘contract’ decades earlier if things go wrong…

  • Neil September 8, 2015, 5:10 am

    It’s the instantaneous freedom killing that prevents me from dog ownership. I guess it’s more acceptable than ever to bring dogs into public places but not that many restaurants and hotels are up to the challenge. The way I see it, get a dog and subtract 20% of value from your house, car, clothes, etc. very difficult to justify. There also seems to be a big problem in the U.S. of way too many dogs running around. Not to mention all the “dog lovers” who leave them home all day while they’re at work. I’d say for most urban and suburban dwellers a dog makes no sense at all.

  • Dee September 8, 2015, 5:56 am

    Yesterday I was browsing an ad for a new apartment building near a small park in the center of my city. I was shocked to see that dogs were welcome, with a two dog limit, but no weight limit. Do people really want to live in an apartment building with up to 300 dogs?

    • The Frugal One September 8, 2015, 7:12 am

      What kills me is, in every apartment complex I’ve lived in that allowed dogs without weight limits, there’s always several people who own two enormous dogs. Most recently, there was a couple who owned a Great Dane and some kind of mutt that was nearly as big. These apartments only had a 4×8′ balcony, with no floor plan that had the square footage or well thought out enough layout to allow dogs of these size to move around much.

      • Matt September 8, 2015, 10:31 am

        Common mis-perception – Great Danes and a lot of other large breeds tend to be pretty low-energy, so they actually make great apartment dogs if you physically have the space for them to lay down! The smaller breeds commonly seen in apartments tend to be a lot higher-energy and a heck of a lot more annoying for neighbors.

      • Annora September 9, 2015, 1:34 am

        Great Danes are actually perfect apartment dogs. Given their size, they cannot exercise very much and their average lifespan is 8-10. Their joints wear out quickly, and they age faster than other breeds. They’re enormous, but they shouldn’t be moving around much anyway so they are well-suited to an urban lifestyle. Short walks in the morning and at night, playtime with the owners, and they’re good to go.

  • Laura21 September 8, 2015, 6:04 am

    I love my golden retriever and 2 cats! All the neighbours pat & enjoy the dog.. and my retired neighbour walks him everyday. A cuddle with a purring cat relaxes me more than a glass of wine! Amazingly valuable & I just have a portion of money put aside to cover any pet emergencies. I feel a lot more joy every day because of my furry friends.. which in turn makes me a healthier & more productive person.

    • Tyler September 8, 2015, 11:07 pm

      I have good news and bad news for you Laura:
      Bad news, and I hate to tell you this but not all your neighbors like your animals. I promise. At least half of them hate your animals.
      Good news: You have really polite and kind neighbors that put up with your animals when you bring them around. They probably do this because you are a nice, kind, and generally good person so they value your friendship despite you occasionaly ruining their walk, BBQ, or peaceful evening by bringing your barking, licking, shedding animals into their space. Not everyone is an animal person, a fact most animal people fail to consider or act on with regularity. However most people are sociable and kind enough not to say to their nice neighbor, “Please get that f-ing animal out of my face, out of my yard, and away from my kids and if you bring them around again it will be the last time we invite you over” .

      Let the animals bring you joy. That is great for you. Don’t subject your kind neighbors to their smells, hairs, excrement, crotch sniffings, and barking that makes the rest of us hate your furry friends. Let your animal be your choice not your neighbors nightmare.

  • Scott September 8, 2015, 6:05 am

    Thank you for bringing this up. Even for us non-dog owners, others’ dog ownership still imposes large costs on us. Just this morning I was walking out of my house when I hear some very aggressive barking. I was surprised, as I didn’t think my suburban neighborhood allowed hunting so there should be no need for hunting dogs, so I turned around. Turns out these were not hunting dogs, but rather useless smaller dogs… that their owner had apparently decided didn’t need leashes. They run up to me, drool spewing out of their mouths, and rub their dirty faces up against my nice clean work clothes, forcing me to go back inside and clean them. This whole time the owner said nothing.

    It’s even worse since I’m allergic to dogs. Yes, even your overpriced hypo-allergenic dog. This is why it pisses me off to no end when assholes bring their dogs into enclosed public places like stores or restaurants– how rude and thoughtless can one possibly be?

    • Jade September 8, 2015, 2:03 pm

      Just yesterday, my husband and I were walking around our neighborhood, enjoying the summer twilight and breathing the good air, and as we were walking past a wrought-iron fence (that was placed right up against the sidewalk) a huge, growling, barking nightmare of a dog came charging at us, acting like he wanted to kill us. Right up to the fence. Stuck his nose outside of the bars, biting at us. Ruined that moment.

      But if we’d kicked at it, then WE’D be the assholes.

      • k September 9, 2015, 1:06 pm

        I feel like in these situations, it’s the owners fault, not the dogs. If you live in the suburbs, you might have a HOA that prohibits dogs from running free, and you should bring that up to your HOA president so that if a fine needs to be levied, then it will be. If not, then I’m sure it wouldn’t be out of place for you to say, “I’m sorry, could you leash your dogs please? I’m severely allergic.”

    • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:37 pm

      I don’t own a dog. But dogs seriously imposing large ‘costs’ on you?! Seriously? Did you really write that? Did soap and water force you to cancel that trip to Hawaii?

      My neighbor’s dog barks sometimes. Its mildly annoying. I get over it…like near instantly. I figure it cost me $.02 a week. (Someone will have to help me with the ten year net cost breakdown on that).

      By your argument, YOUR allergy costs ME! I can’t have damn peanuts on airplanes because of people like you!

      I’m being ridiculous of course. Hopefully you recognize you’ve been the same.

  • AM43 September 8, 2015, 6:26 am

    Is this follow up to my thread. LOL


    I probably should have phrased it differently, but boy did I get my ass kicked. LOL

  • Lisa Mason September 8, 2015, 6:32 am

    I didn’t read through ALL the comments, but it seemed apt to say:
    If you don’t want all the burdens of dog ownership that MMM mentioned, but still want a dog, AND want to increase your income sources, you could always become a dog host on a dog-sitting site, like dog Vacay or something. Get paid $35+ a day to watch a dog and get your dog fix :)

    • Ali Geisler September 8, 2015, 7:02 am

      Great point! Dog kennels make tons of money taking care of furry friends while their owners are on vacation or even just during the day while they’re at work. Why not become a dog daycare, walker, or sitter? I’ve done a bit of overnight dog sitting myself, but I know a woman who has a business just checking in on dogs during the day for people. She walks them, brings in your mail or trash cans, and then leaves a nice little note reporting on how your dog was doing.

  • Mr. Crackin' September 8, 2015, 6:44 am

    Yep, those damn dogs get us.. I managed to spend about $96,000 to accommodate a dog.

  • The Frugal One September 8, 2015, 6:56 am

    I know two people with the most spastic dogs. No training whatsoever to keep them heeled when it comes to interacting with people. They’re big dogs; one’s over 80 pounds. They’ve each lost hundreds of dollars to chewed up furniture, chewed up toys that they have to keep replacing. One kept digging up attempts at growing food. One had to spend over a benjamin on a dog door.

    I grew up with dogs. I noticed how they just kind of existed around the house. Mostly they just laid around until it was time to eat or go outside or we felt like playing with them. Taking them out for walks was an ordeal; they were never trained to behave on a leash. From what I’ve seen, this appears to be the norm. The only difference is some people keep them inside and others keep them outside. I’ve never seen an outside dog that didn’t bark up a storm given the slightest reason.

    I’ve never owned a dog and never plan to. I never planned on owning any pet, ever, but my girlfriend came with a cat. The cat has cost well under $100 a month, but who cares about the monetary cost? We’re planning on traveling the country for a year. It’s already a PITA trying to incorporate the cat into the given amount of cargo space for the car. Luckily cats are more easily accepted at apartments than most dogs. It wouldn’t be so bad if the cat didn’t get carsick.

    The hassle of pet ownership. Does the adjustments and sacrifices amount to stoicism for those who love their furry companions? I think it can. I know I’m too selfish with my time and resources to ever do it myself, but to each their own. Just shut that goddamn dog up. I’m tired of it barking 24/7.

    • The Frugal One September 8, 2015, 7:06 am

      To answer my own question, we all care about the costs. That’s half the point.

  • Ali Geisler September 8, 2015, 7:07 am

    My boyfriend has 2 dogs, both rescues. He works full-time in an office, so the dogs are confined to the laundry room all day. One dog is a serious shedder (Husky), so there is constantly a mess of fur all over the floor to clean up. Neither dog is trained well enough to be taken off a leash outside, and his yard is not fenced, so every time they need to go out (which is a lot, or the one dog will pee all over the floor), it needs to be on a leash. It baffles my mind why he puts up with it, but he says he loves the dogs like family. Not only do I feel like it’s money and time down the drain, but I feel sorry for the dogs being cooped up all day. Sorry for the rant!

  • frivid42 September 8, 2015, 7:22 am

    Hi MMM,

    Great stuff here. Even worse here in Sweden now for the first time in history (I think) horses are more common that cows and this at a time when horses are only used for recreation. If you think a dog is a big fury money hole….well a horse is 10 times that…

  • Ken September 8, 2015, 7:42 am

    Our family has owned a dog for the last 11 years. He has been a great companion, and my children love him. However, there is no doubt that pet ownership can be expensive. Food, vet bills, vaccinations, monthy heart worm pills, and monthly flea and tick treatment are just some of the recurring expenses. Where we live there is even a city assessed yearly registration fee for each houshold pet. Boarding costs are also common during family vacations, as most vacation rentals do not allow pets. There are also fixed costs, such as the original cost to acquire the dog, “socialization” classes for puppies, dog kennels, toys, etc.

    Recently, our dog became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Just getting to a diagnosis has cost over $600 in vet bills. One of the vets suggested surgery that would have cost around $1000. We declined the surgery and have decided to let nature take its course. We are now facing the emotional toll of having to put the dog down once the cancer advances. And, euthanizing the dog will result in yet another vet bill.

    Dog ownership is expensive both in dollar terms and in emotional terms when its life cycle comes to an end. Whether the costs are “worth it” is of course totally subjective. But, before getting a dog (or any other pet) folks need to think about these costs. There is a heavy price to be paid for the companionship of a dog; choose wisely……

  • LoyalReader September 8, 2015, 7:43 am

    I’ve been waiting for this post from MMM.

    Totally agree that dogs (and cats, and horses for that matter) are optional. I also know people who are in terrible financial situations yet keep pets that they really can’t afford, and it boggles my mind.

    But besides the compelling argument that after 40,000 years of creating a symbiotic relationship with certain animals it’s irresponsible to turn our backs on them and simply euthanize them when they become a hassle… MMM misses a compelling reason for dog ownership. Taking responsibility for something besides yourself is a big part of growing as a person. As the father of an 8-year old boy (I think I have that right) I’m sure MMM has learned that lesson. Giving his son a chance to learn it at an earlier age by adopting a dog and having the young MMM take some of the responsibility of raising it would provide many invaluable lessons that simply can’t be taught from a book. Sure it would be a hassle. Just like riding a bike to get your groceries, or fixing up your house, or raising your kid is. Which is, I believe, a basic tenet of what we call Mustachism – do the benefits outweigh the cost? Ultimately it goes beyond math and becomes a personal decision.

    For me, raising a well-trained (emphasis on well-trained) rescue dog is a true joy. But I agree it’s not for everyone and more people should think of the true costs before making this very life-changing decision.

    Oh… and I’d be interested in hearing more from Mustachian pet owners who have figured out more economical ways to raise their pets. The pet business is a racket and I’d love to see a thread in the forums about who others get around this.

    • josh September 8, 2015, 9:25 am

      I have a very active large dog (~90lb). I am at $714 dog expenses this year as of 9/8/15, will run about $814 total. assuming 80 more lb of food. I have not upsized anything for him (civic/700sqft house). I have no idea how I would double his cost of ownership…

      Taste of the Wild – High Prarie – $303
      Premium food, I think, ~40 / 6 wk (2c per day for 90lb) Its about 5% cheaper in practice due to rewards. I also use it for treats.
      Annual Vet visit – $68
      An extra $40 every 3rd year for additional shots
      Fipro – $8
      Use 2x per year in tick season, one pack lasts 3 years
      Dog Park – $25

      Previous expenses in 6 years of ownership, lifetime dog license – $75, adoption fee – $300, dog harness and backpack – $100, leash – $30, he went to daycare a few times ($20 – $40?), toys? very few, I taught him to like sticks. Adding these costs over the last 6 years adds less than $100/yr. Let’s be extravagant and call it $1000/yr. Half of the post’s estimate. Also the math of a median household is ridiculous, using my numbers, its somewhere like 4-7 months. On the order of beer, butcher meat, the internet, and electricity. Overall, I would say having a dog is a pretty cheap hobby/luxury. My solution for medical problems is easy; its legal to execute pets and my vet will do so. Seems like a cold, heartless and rational cost benefit analysis to me…

      Not sure about the other assumptions. I don’t know that the dog is a tether. In fact, I would argue anything ‘keeping’ us from him (another drink?) would invariably be more expensive than his $2.75 daily cost. Although he’d be fine, its a great and socially acceptable excuse (I and others) use to avoid doing things. Maybe I should be taking credit for avoided costs…

      We take our dog most places including friends and family. He stays with family during travel. It isn’t a coincidence that our favorite walk able places are dog friendly. We have free, walk able, and massive park space all around us (Mpls). He gets us out to walk almost every day, rain/shine/sad/happy. We have a 6 ft fence and a large enough yard to occupy himself. He’s a terrific backpacking companion, even carries his own stuff and then some. Only thing missing is too allow dogs on public transit.

      As for killing turf, trampling plants, leaving shit everywhere, accosting/chasing people, and unleashed pets. I don’t believe these to be “dog” problems.

      • the_path_less_taken September 15, 2015, 9:37 am

        Nail on the head: those are not dog problems. Those are ignorant, inconsiderate people problems. Same thing with barking dogs: the owner needs training.

        RE: the MMM article, I will have to agree that dogs are an optional addition to anyone’s lifestyle.

        As are kids. And television. And…anything that isn’t food/water/shelter. Even a significant other can spike costs: the forum is filled with posts about the ‘requirements/foibles’ of spouses.

        But my life is not a spreadsheet. My life is about experiencing joy, and learning, and (previously) travel. I’ve traveled all lower 48 states, Alaska, northern Mexico, and the western portion of Canada with dogs: no biggie. Back when the Plaza in NYC was a hotel, I stayed there with an 80lb Husky/wolf cross (they had a weight limit, but were apparently flexible about it). I’ve driven to Alaska (through the Yukon Territory) with that dog and another 70lb dog: no biggie and tons of fun.

        On at least two occasions, dogs have saved my life. Once from a psychotic human (Tahoe), once from a bear (Alaska). I have always felt safe walking even shitty neighborhoods in Mexico and New York with a dog: I was walking in Central Park at 3am (just got back from clubbing, and was playing in fresh powder snow) when two cops came up and freaked out: “What are you doing? Are you a tourist? You could be killed-” and then gasped when the dogs materialized out of the bushes and said, “Ah. Never mind. You’re obviously ok.”

        Which is my point. Life is NOT a spreadsheet. The dogs gave me the freedom—as a 5’3″ female— to walk where/when I chose, safely. There are factors not taken into account in the article: in winter, like the name of the old time band “Three Dog Night”, if you throw a few dogs on the bed you don’t have to turn up the heat.

        For people who actually don’t like bikes, dogs can carry almost a third of their body weight in packs. Even more if you hitched them to a cart: I’ve seen dog cart contraptions at fairs where a 60lb dog could haul 200lb men around easily. If you’re in snow country, sled dogs are awesome.

        Now, I’m not traveling much and have a ranch. They keep the coyotes off my chickens/ducks. They help some with the rabbit and rodent control, and even discourage hawks from taking livestock: a distinct financial benefit. They are the very best alarm system: I guarantee any burglar would be a dead play-toy by the time I got home.

        Does it “pencil out” as an equation? Only if I factor in the times they saved my life, or kept me warm in frigid temps camping, or enriched my life by facilitating conversations with strangers, of consoled me over the death of my parents, or kept me company hiking through the woods, or made me laugh, or when things seemed so bleak that eating a bullet sounded like a plan….came up and wanted to play.

        I don’t know how to assign monetary breakdowns to most of those things. Neither do you.

    • RyoZenZuZex September 9, 2015, 6:15 pm

      Personal growth through responsibility and relationship building with a dog.

      That’s a pretty compelling reason to get your kid a dog. May I suggest that there are other animals that are MUCH cheaper, or can pay for themselves instead of costing? Or perhaps something else living that is lower maintenance. From plants to spiders to birds, the options are endless, doing the research up front to decide what it is that you REALLY want (or want your kid to learn) and how much you’re willing to pay will really pay off in the long run.

      Rabbits are suitable for almost any backyard, and you can eat them, sell the fur and meat, you won’t get much for the fur, but every dollar counts! Honeybees can be kept almost anywhere. etc, etc.

      Dogs are extremely high maintenance! You’re probably better off with something that doesn’t cost as much time and freedom.

  • Rob September 8, 2015, 7:48 am

    Thank God. Somebody said it.

  • Pamela September 8, 2015, 7:55 am

    Where I live the number of dogs is out of control. Every public green space is turned into a off leash dog park even though that is definitely not supposed to be the case. But laws don’t apply to dog owners…didn’t you know that? On numerous occasions dogs large and small have charged at me barking and snarling while their owners stand there and do nothing. The only thing they have to say is that their dog is friendly. They clearly don’t know what the word friendly means.

    • brent September 8, 2015, 8:35 am

      Amen. Our trails and parks are filled with dogs. Despite numerous signs warning dog owners to use a leash, I’d say about 60% are off-leash. We routinely see dog owners walking around yelling their dogs name after it has run off into the woods, or worse, onto the highway that borders the park land.

      Also, stepping around, or in, poop constantly is a drag. Not to mention the smell.

      Come on dog owners, you are the only one who thinks your dog is special. Until you get to the dog run area, use a leash. And believe it or not, some people might be afraid of 100+ pound German Shepherds bounding up to them in the woods. Not a fun way to increase my jogging pace!

      • Kenneth September 8, 2015, 9:03 am

        Unleashed dogs. Barking dogs. Both problems easily solved by responsible pet owners. Many owners are NOT responsible. I pay the price. It costs me sleep, and enjoyment of peace and quiet.
        Not all people are responsible enough to own dogs, kids, guns. But what are you going to do? Buy 400 acres in a remote area? The hunters and snowmobilers will just run all over your property then.

      • superbien September 8, 2015, 4:18 pm

        Whoa, where do you live? I have only run into one guy (years ago) who regularly walked his dog in a state park, off-leash. He made me fume. I can’t imagine what a hell your town must be, with that behavior being common!

      • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:42 pm

        My trails and parks are filled with people. Rarely see dogs. In a couple parks, but always outnumbered by people 10 to 1.

        As an aside, take the dang headphones out of your ears when you are jogging on trails. I’m so sick of trying to pass oblivious runners who almost keel over from shock at having someone ‘sneak up’ on them. Ugh. Much rather deal with dogs…but never do.

  • David M September 8, 2015, 8:07 am

    Dogs adhere to all the Mustachian principles, except for investing in indexed funs. They get their recreation close to home. They desire little more than basic food and a loving family. They don’t need a fancy mode of transportation to impress others. A simple leash will suffice. And they eat mostly foods their great-grandmothers would recognize.

    • John N September 8, 2015, 10:43 am

      Indexed funs? Sign me up! :)

  • Geek September 8, 2015, 8:10 am

    Our dogs probably cost us a year or two of early retirement in slowed down savings. Certainly they were a carefully considered choice and we waited until student loan debt (our only debt at the time) was paid off. Now we have a mortgage so I guess we could have waited a bit longer.

  • Will September 8, 2015, 8:10 am

    My kids wanted a dog. I was quite happy not having a dog. I grew up on a farm and developed a general dislike of “pets” and the limits they put on your life. But I caved and got this dog from a rescue home. It had been abused and mistreated before it became a rescue dog. We have given it a good life the last 6 years. She is anywhere from 10-15 years old. Not to be mean but she has a huge burden on us. It limits vacations and other trips from home. It gets cold here in the winters so we can’t leave her outside. I hate hearing other peoples dogs bark, especially at night when I am trying to sleep, so I don’t want my dog bothering my neighbors. I am ready for this dog to “kick the bucket” but she keeps on going strong. I would be very happy as a non pet owner but I took on this responsibility and will see it through till the end. I will never have another pet after this one though.

  • forestbound September 8, 2015, 8:12 am

    Yup, dogs are a luxury. A luxury I am willing to work a bit longer for.

    One point I don’t see mentioned is “protection”. It isn’t the first or only reason I have a dog but it is a benefit I have enjoyed. I lived alone in a “changing” neighborhood in a big city, both my neighbors got robbed, I did not. I have always felt safer as a single girl in the big city with my big dog. I also got much healthy the instant he came into my life with a dedicated hiking buddy, who required daily walks. For me it was worth every penny. But yes, they are optional.

    • Samala September 8, 2015, 2:23 pm

      Thanks for posting this, I feel exactly the same way. I’m a young single lady in a larger city and I sleep much better at night knowing my 90lb buddy will wake me up anytime there is a problem. He’s caught teenagers breaking into cars parked on the street at 3am. He scared the pants off a guy who was acting erratically and approached me too closely while we were out walking one evening (the guy didn’t see the dog at first). He alerted me when a snake got into the house (not venomous thankfully). And if you knock on my door you are greeted by Tyrannosaur-sized alarm barks that do a great job of scaring off salespeople and random weirdos.

      I do want to praise MMM for getting the cost about right. I keep pretty scrupulous records and consider my dog fairly spoiled. He gets the full vet work up every year (+/- some extra med expenses for ear or skin infections) and fairly expensive food. He comes in at almost exactly $2000/year.

  • ThatGuy701 September 8, 2015, 8:17 am

    As a dog owner I think this is a great post. Many people don’t think about all of the responsibilities and expenses when it comes to dog ownership which in turn lands a lot of dogs at the shelter or rescues. There needs to be more education about what it takes to own a dog. Most rescues places solely focus on getting the dog adopted and there is very little time spent educating the new pet owners about what ownership means.

    Dog owners should not get upset about this post as it would do the world a lot of good if irresponsible people didn’t own pets.

    There are a lot of expenses when it comes to owning a dog and that is a fact. Those expenses should be estimated a head of time and look up the true cost like MMM state and not just the cost of dog food.

    The other factor that should be considered is the amount of time it will take to train the dog. Dogs don’t come knowing how to sit, heal, stay, not jump on kids, not bark at everything, recall, not be aggressive over food or toys, not digging holes all over the yard, not going to the bathroom in the house, etc… This training doesn’t just take a weekend obedience class but rather 100s of hours of repetition and consistent training. Most of the time dogs go untrained and cause a lot of stress for the owners and others.

    Now once all of the expenses and time considerations have been considered and you still feel getting a dog is worth it then go for it.

    My wife and I decided to get a dog before we had a kid as a kind of practice run. We fully understood that this meant we would be tied to the house a lot more than what we were used too and understood the expenses that would be tied to it. We did under estimate the amount of time it would take to train the dog as we have a dog that likes to eat and swallow everything so we have spent many hours training the “leave it” command but he still needs to be watched as he loves to try to sneak socks or pacifiers or any small thing he can fit in his mouth, even rocks.

    We do have an early retirement goal so getting the dog was not a quick decision. We have our finances worked out so that we are saving 65% of our income. Yes we would definitely be able to save more money if we didn’t have a dog, however we decided that the benefits would be worth it. He has brought so much to our lives such as, extreme patience, consistency between my wife and I, health (3 walks a day even in -20F weather), happiness no mater what, and has been great practice for our first child.

    Bottom line is do your research before getting a dog. Weigh the positives and negatives and then make a sound decision.

    • anonymous September 9, 2015, 1:15 pm

      You’re the kind of people that should have a dog: responsible adults. If everyone gave this much thought to having pets and children, the world would be a much better place because of it.

  • BFRAZ September 8, 2015, 8:19 am

    It’s true, true and too true. But why do dog owners think we are all “haters” for saying so!!!

    • Kristy September 10, 2015, 2:50 pm

      Yeah. . .Same is true for kids, but watch the claws come out when you say they are optional.

      • Slee September 11, 2015, 7:47 pm

        No pet owners are ‘calling out anybody as ‘haters’. Please reference one. I don’t think anyone (pet owner or not) argued against the points made by MMM on potential pet costs.

        Its the underlying hypocrisy when talking about kids that’s the rub. And its a big rub seeing as the author conveniently glossed over child costs in his supposed ‘identical’ article on kids.

  • Timmmy September 8, 2015, 8:23 am

    Dogs don’t have to be expensive or cause you to be unable to travel. Optimize your spending in this area as you would any other area. There are low cost vaccination clinics in our area that give them a checkup and vaccines for $20. That’s the only time they see a vet other than to get spayed/neutered. Be smart about what dogs you choose. Pick breeds that are normally healthy or mutts frequently make great choices.

    Our tribe comes in handy when we need to travel without our dogs. We take turns watching each others dogs when we need to go out of town. It’s no cost and everyone enjoys it.

    A doggy door to our small fenced yard allows the dogs to be home all day without us and doesn’t require us to run home ASAP to check on them.

    • Chris I September 10, 2015, 7:59 am

      This. We have two mixed-breed dogs, and I calculate that we spend about $1000 per year on both. We have never paid for a kennel while traveling, and have never had a vet bill over $400. We groom them ourselves and have even treated several lacerations using liquid stitches. Dogs do not need to be expensive. We spend less than 1% of our annual income on the two that we own.

      Another tip for dog owners out there: products like HeartGard and flea treatments can be split. For example, we have two 45lb dogs, so for flea treatment and HeartGard, we obtain the 100+ lb dog version and divide the dose. This saves about 40% on these treatments.

  • Tara September 8, 2015, 8:34 am

    I’m not a dog owner, but like may people have said, this could easily refer to children. I know you wrote about having only one kid, but why have one kid at all if logic is our only guide? Everyone knows how much kids cost–from diapers to food to extra-curricular activities and college, etc. I used to work at a high school and of the many teachers who worked with high school kids since they started teaching, at least 50% of that group never had kids in spite of being married. Perhaps they knew too many jerk kids in their lives to want to have kids of their own?

    Yet people push having kids (at least one kid!) as something you MUST DO. How can you get married and never have a kid? There’s always a chance your kid could group up to be a dick. How many kids grow up to resent their parents? How many become leeches on their money long into adulthood? How many kids actually visit their parents in the retirement home? While yes, you might win the child lottery and get a kid who grows up to be smart and responsible and care for you as you age, there’s a great chance they won’t. Yet people continue to have kids in spite of all that. (myself included as I am pregnant…)

    My husband and I don’t have dogs because we don’t have the backyard space which I feel is a must for most dogs. We do have cats however, and while they too are an expense ($30/month on litter/food, plus the $15 daily rates we pay for daily cat sitter visits when we’re gone for more than 36 hours straight–no more than once a month), we feel the companionship is worth it. Plus, where we used to live in a 1930’s built NYC apartment, they definitely kept the mice away after dealing with them first hand before we got cats (we had a mouse die in the back of the fridge by the fridge motor…that’s when we got cats)

    TL:DR version… yes not everyone has to have a dog (or cat), and yes, people should be prepared for the costs associated with having one. But we all do things based on emotion, and to only point out choosing to own a dog as an illogical decision that does nothing but cost you money and your free time is narrow-minded.

    • Marcia September 8, 2015, 12:22 pm

      I think part of the “kid thing” is that you don’t know what you are missing.

      If you’ve never had children, then you don’t realize how much they change you/ your life.

      Once you’ve had children, you know the difference.

      That’s why people think it’s necessary to experience it.

      Although honestly, not everyone is prepared for it, and not all changes are positive. So of course, having children is optional.

      • Annora September 9, 2015, 1:48 am

        Replace child with pet, and now you see the other side.

        Personally, I’d rather have a pet than a child. Pets cost less, are far less of a tether, they tend to not make it past 16 (we had a cat that lived to 24, but she was a genetic anomaly), and they give unconditional love in return for pretty damn cheap. Feed them, love them, keep them clean and cared for. No college funds, no teenager phase, no house parties, no crayon all over the walls, just quiet companionship.

        A misbehaving animal is not a vexing mystery. Either you need to spend more time with them, and walk them properly every day, or you need to take them to the vet cause there’s something wrong. With pet insurance (which I highly recommend people get as soon as they adopt an animal), it’s not really a big cost anymore. Certainly cheaper than human health insurance.

        A misbehaving child, that’s a whole host of things that could have gone wrong to lead to that. Maybe you just lost the genetic lottery and ended up with a psychopath for a kid. Some dogs are broken too, and that’s why euthanization is an option. It’s not for psychotic children.


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