Doggone Financial Lessons For Millennial Pet Owners

Callahan’s dog owners talk responsibility, finances, and decision-making.

 
 

Millennials might be putting off marriage and starting families until later in life, but one thing they're not putting off is getting pets.

According to an article in the Washington Post, 75% of people in their 30s own a dog and more than 50% own a cat. Additionally, 44% of millennials consider their pets starter children.

Are pets the new people?

In this My Generation post, millennials (and one baby boomer) at Callahan & Associates talk about the responsibility of caring for another living being and the costs associated with pet ownership. And, of course, they can't help but dish on the dogs themselves.

Sam Taft, AVP, Analytics & Business Development

Why did you want a dog in your life?

Alf, Pit Bull, Age: 4 Years

My wife and I have always been big fans of animals. She grew up riding horses and I had a cat. In the months leading up to adopting Alf, we “dog-sat” for one of my friends who also had rescued a dog and we couldn’t get the idea of adopting out of our heads.

Companionship and service both come to mind as reasons we adopted. Washington, DC, shelters are overpopulated, especially with pit bull breeds, and we felt if we were going to get a dog, we couldn’t not get a pit bull. A

lf is affectionate, goofy, loyal, and intelligent. We've now taken it upon ourselves to become breed owner ambassadors. 

 

 

How has your life changed since living with your pet?

Gone are the days of taking trips on a whim. We have to coordinate every night out,  and we generally limit nights out to four or five hours unless we have someone to watch Alf.

An unexpected benefit has been the personal accountability that has come with him. We’ll go on long walks, hikes, and other pet-friendly adventures that we all get something out of. I think in the first month alone I lost 10 pounds from the added exercise of walking three to four miles a day.

Alf was a shelter bargain at $15 plus state tags. We’ve have our share of scrapes and stomach issues, but he’s been a pretty healthy pup.

Sam Taft, dog owner

How has your life changed financially?

Thus far, not dramatically. Alf was a shelter bargain at $15 plus state tags. Since then, we’ve have our share of scrapes and stomach issues, but (knock on wood) he’s been a pretty healthy pup.

How often does your pet factor into your decision-making processes for purchases? Any examples?

To date it has not. More often he’ll factor into our decisions for trips. Now that he’s older and calmer though, we’re starting to take more.

Liz Furman, Senior Manager, Industry Analytics

Why did you want a dog in your life?

Jolene, Lab Mix, Age: 1.5 Years

Dogs are the best form of stress relief — there’s nothing I’d rather do at the end of a hard day than come home and play fetch with Jolene. She is in tune with my emotions and is an expert snuggler when I’m stressed or sick.

Walking Jolene is great exercise and playing with her is more time that I live in the present instead of being on my phone. Plus, she’s always happy to see me.

How has your life changed since living with your pet?

Jolene requires a lot of planning and care. My fiancé and I plan her walks every day and regularly use the dog-walking app, Wag.

We adopted her through a rescue, and she was heartworm positive. So, we’ve been taking her to the vet and monitoring her treatment closely. It feels nice to be responsible for Jolene, and I do everything I can to make sure she has a great life.

Some vets have partnerships with financial institutions for owners to take out loans if their pets need surgery. I would absolutely do that if I needed to.

Liz Furman, dog owner

How has your life changed financially?

The first several months of dog ownership were expensive. We had to buy the dog (duh), the bed, the bowls, the toys, the food, etc. We’d saved knowing that a dog would cost a lot upfront, and we were glad we did.

After that, costs have remained pretty consistent — we pay for her walks, food, and treats.

How often does your pet factor into your decision-making processes for purchases? Any examples?

Recently, the vet wasn't sure about something and said they could send it out to a radiologist to take a look — at an added cost. I said yes. It was only $80, but I would do anything to make sure she’s OK. I know some vets have partnerships with financial institutions for owners to take out loans if their pets need surgery. I would absolutely do that if I needed to.

Also, I would rather “spoil” Jolene than myself. For example, there are a lot of cool subscription boxes out there — like birchbox that sends cosmetics — that I’ve flirted with purchasing for myself, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. The first day we had Jolene, I signed up for a subscription box for dogs— Barkbox — and it’s twice as much per month.

Mike Zaleski, Account Management Coordinator

Why did you want a dog in your life?

Huckleberry, Beagle Mix, Age: 5 Years

Companionship. There is nothing better than being greeted by a dog when you get home. They are always happy to see you, love you unconditionally, and can be entertained by a ball for hours. Who wouldn’t want one?

How has your life changed since living with your pet?

I have to maintain a much more rigid schedule and make sure I get home to let him out at regular intervals. And, if my fiancé and I want to travel, we have to either bring him or make arrangements for him.

Huck is an inexpensive dog ... food, treats, and bones pretty much keep him happy.

Mike Zaleski, dog owner

How has your life changed financially?

Huck is an inexpensive dog, no major health issues so far (fingers crossed). Food, treats, and bones pretty much keep him happy.

How often does your pet factor into your decision-making processes for purchases? Any examples?

Every day. My fiancé and I have to plan together if either of us has something to do after work so someone can take care of him. I like to go to happy hour after work on Fridays, so we have to adjust our schedules to make sure Huckleberry gets his dinner.

Deeba Izadpanah, Account Management Coordinator

*Deeba brings her puppy home in eight weeks. Her responses reflect expectations.

Apollo's Mom & Dad, Samoyed, Age: unborn*

Why did you want a dog in your life?

I have wanted one since I was a child. I finally live on my own and luckily walk to work, so why not?

Also, what could be better than coming home after a long day and seeing a big fluffy dog just staring at me and excited to see me? 

I also think having a dog will teach me more about patience and selflessness. I have never been responsible for anyone other than myself, so I think it will be a healthy challenge.

I’ve started to budget $300 a month for food, vet, toys, and miscellaneous purchases, in addition to the $1,500 cost of the puppy himself.

Deeba Izadpanah, dog owner

How do you expect your life will change living with your pet?

  • Loss of sleep from letting him and his puppy bladder out in the middle of the night.
  • Spending more money on him and less on myself (toys, food, treats, grooming, vet, etc.).
  • Less time for myself (facials, hair apps, happy hours, nights out).
  • A LOT of accidents.
  • A LOT of time training him, especially on weekends.
  • Less overnight/ long trips.
  • I think (hope) less personal anxiety.

What did you take into consideration before getting a dog?

  • Do I have time to walk him three times a day?
  • Do I have it in me to train him?
  • Can I go home during lunch to let him out?
  • Should I wait until I have a boyfriend who I can rely on to help me? (No, because if we break up that runs the risk of him taking the pup — which is not happening.)
  • Am I allowed to have one in my apartment?
  • Am I financially stable enough?

How do you expect your life to change financially?

I’ve started to budget $300 a month for food, vet, toys, and miscellaneous purchases, in addition to the $1,500 cost of the puppy himself. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment choice.

When I made the choice to get a dog, I told myself I need at least three months to save money and learn more about raising a pup on my own. I wanted to make sure I could make the adjustments necessary before he was physically there and also puppy proof my place. Of course, my parents and brother have offered to help, but they live in Virginia so I can’t rely on them at any given moment.

Erik Payne, Associate Editor

Why did you want a dog in your life?

Griffey, Golden Retriever, Age: 9 Weeks

I’ve never had a pet, but I’ve always had an affinity for dogs. Owning a dog, however, is a little more difficult than being a fun uncle. My girlfriend and I felt we were ready to test ourselves as far as the responsibility of pet ownership goes, plus adding a dog is like adding a friend — except friends don’t need to be let out at 1 a.m. to go to the bathroom.

How has your life changed since living with your pet? What do you expect?

We got Griffey this past Saturday. I’ve been sleeping less and living more structured. I need to know when he eats, drinks, goes to the bathroom, and more. And when we take him on walks (or in the car) we need a number of items to make it through successfully. Luckily, he’s a popular dog with the people in our apartment complex, but it’s harder to teach him how to be a good walker when 50% of the people we see stop to pet him.

Because golden retrievers often have long-term hip issues, we’ve considered taking out pet insurance now to mitigate costs later.

Erik Payne, dog owner

How has your life changed financially?

The upfront cost was significant. It included a $500 fee from the apartment complex with an additional $50 per month fee on top. After that, we expect to spend more money on Griffey and less on ourselves — fewer nights out for dinner, drinks, or movies. And because golden retrievers often have long-term hip issues, we’ve considered taking out pet insurance now to mitigate costs later.

How often does your pet factor into your decision-making processes for purchases? Any examples?

Twenty-four hours a day. He sleeps most of the day now, but we don’t feel comfortable yet leaving him unattended.  Where we go — like the grocery store — he goes. And because he’s not allowed inside most places, we walk him around outside. We get our steps in, that’s for sure.

Editor's Note: After posting, other Callahan staffers wanted to weigh in. And we can't say "no" to more cute doggie pics. 

Marc Rapport, Senior Writer

Why did you want a dog in your life?

Jesse, Mixed Breed, Age: 2 Years

We’re baby boomers, and for us, it’s filling an impending empty nest. We were blissfully dog-less for several years after we put down our 17-year-old border collie mix and often talked about how great it was not to have a dog. There is so much responsibility and expense. I was happy with my grand-dogs two states away in Alabama (with my millennial daughter and son-in-law). 

Then, last summer, my 17-year-old stepson said he'd be leaving for college soon and never had a dog of his own.

The next day: Enter Jesse. 

She came courtesy of a local shelter, and she’s our baby. She does all the things for us emotionally that dogs have been doing for humans for millennia. I would add that we don’t refer to ourselves as her “mommy” and “daddy.” I’m “the nice man” and my wife is “the nice lady.” Our high school senior is “the boy.” Jesse doesn’t care, as long as she gets to do whatever she wants, like pick her own vegetables out of my garden.

How has your life changed since living with your pet?

Jesse was only sort of housebroken when we got her. She’s almost completely now, but that took work and we had to learn to read her signs. We have to kennel her when we go out of town, and we need to watch her diet and work with her on her manners in public, since she’s overly friendly and not everyone wants to love on her just because she’s there.

We’ve raised children. This is easier.

Paying for a trainer was a lot less expensive than paying for college.

Marc Rapport, dog owner

How has your life changed financially?

We spend a lot of money on her, I guess, but not as much as on kids. Paying for a trainer was a lot less expensive than paying for college.

How often does your pet factor into your decision-making processes for purchases? Any examples?

We want to make sure we can easily pay for anything that could arise with her health. We did some research and decided on a $37-a-month insurance plan for her. Sounds like a lot? Price auto insurance for a high school boy in South Carolina.

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Jan. 24, 2018


Comments

 
 
 
  • What an enjoyable article. From a Gen Xer with multiple pets, they are worth the time, money and effort. Best wishes to each Callahan pet owner who shared their stories and photos.
    Anonymous