Our dog Brewster has become a voracious chewer. Not of furniture or shoes, fortunately (we trained him out of that early on), but he can go through a 6-inch bully stick in under half an hour. It’s hard to even imagine how he does it, since he’s only 15 pounds and has tiny little teeth. But you give him a chew, with the intention of catching up on emails or cooking dinner while he’s occupied, and 20 minutes later, he’s done and looking to play.
While having to buy new chews is definitely better than having to buy new shoes, it still adds up. At $5-12 per chew, we don’t leave the pet store without spending at least $100, and that’s for a supply that doesn’t even last us a month.
We recently discovered a couple sites online where you can buy chews in bulk at a big discount. Our favorite site so far is Best Bully Sticks, which offers a 25-pack of thick 6-inch low-odor chews for only $54.49, or $2.18 per chew. They have a great variety too, so we can stock up on braided chews, curly bully sticks, bison tendons, pig ears, lamb puffs, duck feet, elk antlers,and more. Brewster loves that we aren’t so stingy with the chews, and we love the cost-savings and convenience. A win-win for humans and dogs!
We just got our new Tagg GPS Pet Tracker in the mail, and I was going to do a product review on it, but unfortunately we’re going to have to send it back. I didn’t realize how large the device is; I was expecting it to be more, well, tag-sized. On the website, there were no indications of size that I could find, and they call it “lightweight”, indicating that it fits on any dog’s collar — they even show it on a cat, which seems absurd, having seen how large this thing is. Our dog Brewster is about 15 pounds, and when I attached the device to his collar, it just seemed like it would be too much for him to lug around all day, and would be uncomfortable when sleeping or lazing about.*
So back it goes. I had heard good things about Tagg, and I’m sure it’s a great product, but from what I’ve seen, I would not recommend it for small dogs. I’m going to keep my eye out for a device that works in a similar way but is smaller. Tagg basically tracks the GPS location of your dog, so you always know where he is, and you can also set perimeter boundaries to get alerts when your pet goes outside of the designated areas (probably more appropriate for people who live in suburban or rural areas, where there is more room to roam). Tagg also keeps track of how much exercise your dog is getting, so you know if you need to step things up.
We never would have thought to get a GPS for our dog, until our friend’s dog got lost in a random incident. Fortunately, he was found safe and sound, but for two days we helped them search aimlessly around the area that he was last seen, since we had no idea where he could be. It seems unlikely that our dog would get lost or run away, since he is a people pup and loves to stick close to us, but I’m a worrier, so I like the idea of at least being able to locate him if he does.
*To Tagg’s credit, the customer service was great — I called and asked to return it, and was sent a prepaid UPS shipping label via email, with a full refund to my credit card coming within 5-10 days of receipt of the package.
If your dog is your first child, you will probably end up with an obscene amount of stuff like we did. We hadn’t yet learned the lesson that less is more, and that you can get by on just a few items vs. the entire store. We have no fewer than 15 toys for our puppy Brewster, at least 10 of which stay in the drawer at all times. There are squeakers, pull toys, balls for fetch, rope toys, and toys that seem to serve no purpose other than looking cute in photos. At first, we wanted to stay away from the squeaky ones, because we thought they would drive us nuts. But when we realized how happy they made our dog (and how happy it made us to watch him squeak them), we couldn’t wait to buy him more.
We also discovered that instead of spending $10+ per toy, we could find much cheaper playthings at home that he seemed to like just as much as the fancy ones. Paper bags and cardboard boxes go a long way, as long as you don’t mind cleaning up the mess afterward. Water bottles is another favorite – not only do they get the crunch factor, but it’s fun to chase them all over the floor (take the top off first so he doesn’t swallow it). And the favorite: a crunchy plastic water bottle stuffed inside an old sock with the ends tied. We’re talking HOURS of entertainment.
But that crate filled with toys is not it when it comes to stuff for our dog. There are treats, chews, bags of food, water bowls, kongs of various sizes, leashes of various lengths, collars, harnesses, dog tags, grooming items, paw wipes, poop bags, travel supplies…not to mention multiple dog beds and crates spread throughout the house.
I’m not sure what we’re going to do when we have a human child someday.
There’s obviously a lot you need to do to get ready for a new baby: find a good space in your home for the nursery, buy the crib, set up the crib, make it homey and inviting, buy a boatload of other stuff you’ll need for said new baby. Did you know that you have to do the same things for a new puppy? Granted, there’s less hardware required for a dog, but still a lot more than we were expecting.
At first, we thought we’d just have a crate, a dog bed, a few toys, and maybe a baby gate to section off our hallway where the dog could hang while we were out. Good thing we met with a trainer (and our future dog walker, Pamela Wyman of DogEvolve), who told us that it would be a while until our puppy would be ready for a whole area to hang out in. First, we should start with a crate inside an exercise pen. And in that ex-pen, we’d also need a patch of potty grass (for those long stretches when he’d be home alone between his playground and us getting home from work). And a water bowl. And some toys. And some chews. And a piece of linoleum under all of it for when he misses the potty grass or has an accident on the floor.
All of that stuff can make a city apartment feel small fast. The good news is that you probably only need the ex-pen and potty grass for the first 4-6 months (depending on how long you plan to leave your pup alone at home at a time, and how easy it is to take your dog outside to use the bathroom). And when you move into the crate-only phase, that takes up a lot less room. The bad news is that this stuff is pricey, and it really adds up. After our first shopping trip, my fiance asked how much I thought we would spend total, once we were done buying all this stuff. I estimated $300 and it was upwards of $500. Once you get the initial items, it’s less ongoing, but you still have to put in a chunk of your paycheck each month to food, treats, chews, new toys, dog walking, vet bills, etc. So you definitely have to be sure that you’re ready for a dog, emotionally, physically, and financially. The upside, of course, is a loving companion who will make you smile every day.