I had made a new year’s resolution to be more aware of our pet budget, and try to control it a little better. To that end, I’ll be posting monthly budget summaries of pet expenditures here at the House of Two Bows. Mundane, perhaps, but it’s important. Besides, it allows me to indulge in my love of bullet-pointed lists.

This is for me, and for any general reader who might have an interest in the finances of keeping two 20-30 pound dogs in the California Bay Area.

Photo taken 13 January 2011

As a graduate student subsisting on a limited income in one of the more expensive parts of the US, I’ve had to learn to be frugal and save money. I’m not claiming poverty by any means; I’m lucky to have stable housing and an employed partner to help support our much-cherished Bows. But sometimes it’s stressful to confront the economic reality of keeping pets, especially when I don’t consider pets a luxury. Their well-being is my well being, so I must account for their needs — with a literal budget, if I must.

Maybe I’ll refine this mission more in upcoming months, but my basic premise is this: The more we are able to talk about money on a day-to-day, individual, and practical level, the more we demystify broader class, cultural, and socio-economic disparities that so often have to do with how groups are perceived to earn, accumulate, and use money.

So as dull as this category of blog posts may seem, my long-term goal is somewhat politically oriented. This is not about showing off how much (or how little) I am able to spend on the cost of raising my pets. This is not about opening my finances for judgment and scrutiny, though practical advice may occasionally be solicited. Rather, this is about putting the value of “ordinary” pets into some kind of perspective. Our final vantage… remains to be seen.

So without further ado…

THE COST OF THINGS: January 2011

  • FOOD: $74
  • TREATS: $23

TOTAL: $142

Costs have been tracked and rounded to the nearest dollar.

Explanation of Categories:

Food: Includes Primal Raw, kibble, raw meat purchased and stored in the freezer (not all consumed this month), and any necessary supplements that are part of their daily meals (i.e. fish oil, yogurt)

Treats: Edible extras. We actually still have a stockpile of edibles from the previous month, including some items from our Secret Santa that have yet to be consumed. This number is somewhat inflated by the fact that I buy lots of treats at once to take advantage of one store’s Buy 3 Get 1 Free deals. The goal for next month is to drop this figure significantly.

Accessories: Non-edible extras. A Vittles Vault (necessary to replace the previous one, which was not air-tight and was recently invaded by ants after a year of use) and an elevated serving tray were purchased this month.

Miscellaneous: I approximated this amount for gas. I drive the dogs back and forth from dog parks just as much as I drive myself anywhere. We’ll see what else falls into this category in future updates.

Vet fees and meds: Nothing this month, because all their meds (HeartGard, Comfortis, and Bowdu’s Soloxine) were previously paid for. We will not be so lucky next month!

Have I overlooked any major categories? Grooming? We bathe Bowdu at home (did not account for water fees), Bowpi hasn’t needed a single bath, and no grooming supplies were purchased. Traveling and boarding? We stay put throughout most of the academic year. Education and tuition? Thankfully the dogs are past puppy school age, we have not continued institutionalized training in obedience or canine sports, etc., and we don’t have to plan for college tuition (har har!). These are real and often necessary expense categories for some dogs, though. Except that whole college tuition thing.

Oh yeah, I did buy a second-hand copy of Susan Coe’s The Basenji: Out of Africa to You, which set me back all of $6. That, however, has more to do with my educational expenses than theirs.