Doggy Update

Alas, it’s time to give an update on our doggy decision…it’s a tough topic for me.

I wrote about our decision regarding Kiki’s knee injury in the context of our finances, but in reality its much more of a personal/family decision than a pure money matter. The fact is that we’ve been challenged to keep Kiki altogether. Here’s the brief back story:

We adopted Kiki two summers ago when Girly was just five months…we adopted him on a bit of whim and I teased close friends that it was my way of distracting our desire for a third child (we had previously agreed we wanted a dog after having kids). The kids quickly fell in love with him, especially Girly (see video her lounging on him last summer), and now she walks him with me every weekend morning. Hubby and I had a steeper learning curve as new dog owners, and within the first months we had repeated trash incidents, compost digging, food nabbing, he ran away two times, plus loud barking any time he was left outside without us (which the neighbors wrote us notes about…) Ironically, we were baby-proofing our house at the same time as doggy-proofing, and I came to think of them as the same thing: provide a safe environment and everyone will be happy/healthy!

However, the fact is that Kiki’s dog ways can drive Hubby mad, and he admitted after a few weeks of having him that he brought out some OCD tendencies and that his threshold for misbehavior was way lower than mine. But don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a happy camper when Kiki tore my stuff: two camelbacks, a sherpani work bag, our Ergo baby carrier, our Kelty baby hiker backpack, our new luggage…plus three leashes and two harnesses…yes, we’ve gotten the hint that he likes gnawing on straps/bags! Now that I think back, I wonder how I could tolerate it all…but despite his natural dog-tendencies, Kiki is truly a great dog and wonderful with the kids. 

Hubby had been threatening for months under his breath to give away Kiki, and it made me cringe each time. But it was Kiki destroying a new homebrew kit that Hubby excitingly purchased that was the last straw for Hubby. That was in March. I thought long and hard, and realized that despite his sometimes destructive dog ways, Kiki is part of our family, and I wasn’t ready to give up. Since then I’ve taken over all dog duties (including poop patrol, which I vowed to never do…), and I now get up at 5:30 to walk him (nearly) every morning.

My bond to Kiki has certainly strengthened, and even with the hard family lessons, I’m glad to have him in our life.

But with more reflection, I can see that I was willing to pay the thousand dollar vet fee in part because I felt like it’s our obligation as responsible pet owners and because I feel  guilty for ever considering giving him away. I know in my heart that having him in our family isn’t something you can put a price tag on, and we can’t even imagine the long term value his playful presence will have for our children. As you can see from the “dress up” photo, they love him.

As for the knee surgery, I’ve decided that with his arthritis and age, he’s not a good candidate. I also feel like expense and effort would be too much of a sacrifice on our family, but we will continue to give him the best care and love we can. Thankfully, his limp is gone for now and his full old-age vet scan came back gleaming. As I paid another $25 to renew his tags a few weeks ago, I felt like I’ve made the best decision for our entire family.

Have you ever had family pet tribulations?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

3 thoughts on “Doggy Update

  1. Ms. Miel

    I simply love the photos! Clearly not an easy time of it, but that is how it goes with pets some times. You know my woes, and now I’m up nightly like a new mom. That said, my cats still bring a great deal of joy into my life, and Zeke is laying next to me taking a bath as I type. You can’t put a price tag on that!

    Miel

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  2. Anonymous

    My last snarky comment about your husband, but he’s such a meanie. I can’t imagine taking a dog away from children and teaching them the lesson that when a living being gets tiresome or annoying, you just ditch it. Your kids are lucky that you’re there to balance out his tendencies. My children have a dog, and no matter what it destroyed, my husband would never deny them the unconditional love that they share with the dog. Nor would he teach them that possessions are more important than a family pet.

    Your children will be talking about their childhood dog 20 and 50 years from now. They will always think of him fondly. Your backwards husband won’t remember his dumb beer set five years from now. And he can afford another.

    As a side note, be sure to do some reading about proper dog toys. If dogs have proper things to chew on, they usually won’t chew on the human stuff. There’s a range of dog toys, and you need to figure out what he likes best and get those toys. I’ve also found that expensive dog toys (made of nice rope, good congs, etc) can be worth the money because they last much longer. Another thing I’ve found useful is to get my dog stuff from garage sales. For example, if the dog likes to tear apart stuffed animals, get a box of them for 10 cents each at a garage sale. Or guy dozens of things with handles to chew on for a dollar each at a garage sale. One person warned me that this could teach the dog to chew on human stuff, so do be careful about that, but so far it’s been okay for me.

    One final thought: the next time your husband breaks something in the home, throw him out for a few nights. And maybe make him take the kids so he learns how to do his share of the domestic work!

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  3. Sustainable Family Finances

    Anonymous – Thanks for the final snarky comment…while I may not agree with you entirely, I do find it healthy to be provoked. (For others see comments on Financial Infidelity post to understand).

    I really like your tip about buying garage stuffed animals, it took us a while to find toys that would work for such a big dog, but it turns out that he really likes white stuffed animals.

    I’d rather practice unconditional love with both my husband and our dog…even if sometimes they deserve to be in the dog house. I can’t claim perfection either, and we’re all learning.

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