My Dog, the Luxury Item

It's been on my mind quite a bit lately, so I wanted to address the concept of "pet as luxury item."

My dog is not a fucking luxury. You know what's a luxury? You popping a baby out of your cooter. The Earth is over-populated by how many millions of people? And yet somehow, you can justify bringing another being into this world? Fuck you. My dog is an act of charity. I adopted her to help ease her suffering and reduce pet overpopulation through proper spaying and neutering. How many kids have you adopted? How much money have you donated to Planned Parenthood lately to reduce human over-population? I have donated on multiple occasions to the shelter from which I adopted her in her honor, because she is genuinely so awesome that I want to help them to help other people to share the experience I've had.

My dog is also my best friend. As a therapist, I can say quite truthfully that one of the best things I've figured out from my years of experience is that many times, pets are the only thing keeping people on this planet. Pets give people something to care for that they feel can't go on without them. They are good for your health, both physical and mental. Because I'm not retired and can't sit around all day and pull up the research articles to cite (I have grants to write, mo'fos!), but I know that the research says pets are good for your health. They prevent allergies, lower your blood pressure, and increase your propensity to exercise. They help alleviate depression and can even help facilitate socialization. So fuck you, calling my dog a luxury. If pets were luxuries, homeless people wouldn't have dogs. I, personally, would rather be homeless than give up my dog. She is that important to my mental well-being. I put my money where my mouth is too; I take my animal responsibilities very seriously. I started paying for all their expenses when I got my horse at 15.5 years of age. Seriously, ask my mom. I busted my ass to take care of my dog and horse. I took some very industrious and exotic jobs during my college years to do so and still managed to graduate magna cum laude and have enough money to start investing at age 20. I continued to bust my ass to support a dog and a horse through 5 years of grad school, so again, fuck anyone who says that animals are a luxury. You know what I regret? $120,000 in student loans. You know what I don't regret? All the money I spent on my horse and time I spent trail riding. Those were some of the happiest moments in my life; I get all teary just thinking about it now. Damn, how I miss that horse.

(And just look at this face! How can you say this is unnecessary?)

Now, is there a right way and a wrong way to have a pet? Sure. In this case, I'll use a dog as an example. My dog was adopted from the shelter for about $60. (I should have waited until the half-price sale the next month, damn!) This one I feed pretty well, but my last dog got $9/50lb. bags of Old Roy from Tractor Supply Company. She lived to be 14 1/2 years old as a large dog, and people regularly told me how awesome her coat was and asked what I fed her. I don't buy dog clothes. I buy dog toys on clearance and stitch them back up when possible. I pick up old tennis balls people leave on tennis courts during our walks. I splurge on nice dental chews because I've found some that helped my previous dog have really nice teeth for almost her entire life, which is quite an accomplishment. In regard to cost, having a pet is kind of like having a child in that they can cost you nearly an infinite amount of money, or nearly nothing. It's largely up to you, albeit with sometimes unavoidable twists of fate, like illnesses or accidents.

What I wouldn't recommend doing is buying a designer dog for $2,000 that is predisposed to atrocious health problems, put it in a sweater when it's chilly, and feed it filet mignon. That's a luxury, kind of. It's really just consumerism marketed as a luxury. It's also so, so bad for the animal in so many ways.

That's where I stand on the matter. If you feel that dogs are a luxury, you are simply incorrect, and, moreover, I probably don't want to know you. Go enjoy your espresso and solar panels and other lifeless indulgences; I'll take more true love and unconditional acceptance in my life, thanks.

I'm curious though, for anyone reading out there: Do you own a dog? How do you feel they are necessary to you? Any big money-saving hacks to share? I've always threatened to put my dog to work somehow, but haven't figured out a way yet - how about you? Stock photos or something? Let me know! 

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