Money at 30: Lessons Learned from My International Dog Sitting Adventure

A few months back, I wrote a post sharing that my wife and I were considering adopting a dog while also recounting some of costs we were totaling up as we furthered our research. Well, thanks to some unexpected travels, our plans to get a pup of our own have been delayed. But, in the meantime, we’re getting a small trial run this week as we pet sit for a friend of ours up in Canada. Obviously this experience won’t exactly mirror what it might be like for us to have a dog, but it’s highlighted a few things nonetheless — including some financial realities. With that, here are a few lessons I’ve taken away from my international dog sitting stint so far.

Doggy diets can be made up of people food

If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen plenty of commercials advertising what they say is the best pet food. Furthermore, these ads often have an air of condescension — such as “can you believe you’re feeding your dog that?” or “Isn’t your pet worth just a few extra dollars a day?” Because of this, I wasn’t exactly sure what type of food we’d ultimately plan on giving to our eventual pet. Yet, this week introduced me to yet another option: people food.

The dog we’re sitting for has a regular dinner consisting of some chicken, rice, and veggies, along with a couple of other small ingredients and a bit of kibble. Although I’d read that you could cook such food for your dog, I hadn’t actually seen it in practice. And, while I haven’t yet run the numbers to see if this approach is actually more economical than others, it does at least seem viable.

Of course, on the topic of viability, different dogs do have different dietary needs. Thus, I really can’t count on any particular plan just yet. In any case it’s something to consider.

The importance of pet insurnace

Sadly, the main reason why my friend needed a full-time dog sitter instead of boarding the dog this week is because, out of nowhere, the pup began having seizures a few weeks ago and was diagnosed as having epilepsy. Thus, in addition to letting the dog out and feeding it, we’ve also been responsible for administering her medication three times a day. Thankfully, she hasn’t had any issues on our watch, but we’re keeping a close eye on her.

Another silver lining is that my friend’s family had pet insurance, which helped limit the expense this unexpected turn of events had. Personally, I’d already been looking at pet insurance, but this experience really seals the deal for me. Furthermore, I’ll definitely be paying closer attention to the terms of the plans I’m researching to ensure I find one that will make the most sense and be the most beneficial overall should something happen.

Dogs can be stronger than they look

This one has little to do with the finances of dog ownership — but I have to say that I’m a little shocked at how strong this dog can be at times. When my friend’s mom warned that she might try to pull me while on walks, part of me kind of laughed it off as this cockapoo is only around 20 pounds. Well, it turns out she was absolutely right as this girl can move! Granted, she hasn’t exactly dragged me down the street or anything but there’s definite power there. With my wife and I looking at doggies in the 20 to 25 pound range, I suppose we’ll need to keep this dynamic in mind as we make our plans (and pup proof our home).


With my wife and I still planning to add a pet to our family in the relatively near future, this week of dog sitting has definitely been an eye-opening experience. While it’s gone well, it has underscored a few things while teaching us others. Overall, as we prepare to return home, we now have a few more considerations to make regarding being pet owners and the financial aspects of it. So, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

P.S. — I’m totally adding “International Dog Sitter” to my next business card.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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