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January 24, 2006

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One observation I've made about the "pets are equivalent to children" people is that 90% of the time they are childless, and clueless. They make those statements, and we parents catch each others' eyes and we *know* what the others are thinking. We know that this person has no clue, and that the only reason we aren't tearing into the paper wall of their cluelessness is that we are being nice. The sad thing is that often, the person often seems to think he or she is being cute or endearing, when it has just the opposite effect to many.

Still, even if I am projecting most of that (which I may very well be), it makes me grit my teeth each and every time. Decide beforehand how much you will pay. Perhaps leverage your maximum amount by purchasing 80/20 pet health insurance. But decide and don't feel bad that you've put a number on a life.

For me, that number is $1500 for either of my dogs. That's it, and that would be only if I thought the dog had a chance of living a pain-free, long life afterwards. For my cats, $200, but don't tell my kids that number. For my chickens, $0, since they are old and I could use new vigorous egg-layers. :)

Aside from chickens, I grew up in a pet free home. Maybe that makes me heartless.

Sometimes it seems that my bf's parents love their dogs more than they love him. When he was a young child and he had nightmares, his mother wouldn't let him sleep in her bed at night because he would crowd the dog out of her place on the bed. His mother wants to commission an artist to paint an oil portrait of her current dog, but I've only found one baby picture of him in the entire house. His father, buys steaks for his dog, but couldn't spend a penny on his only son's college education, or on child support for that matter.

So yes-- some people are a lot kinder to their dogs than they are to their children . . . and maybe they even love them more than their children. And yes, those people should go with their heart because they deserve the consequences of their twisted love.

I can partially see the first commentors point (bruce) about the majority of the "pets are the same as children" are childless. Not clueless however. I have made that pates same as children statement a number of times, and as was mentioned in the post, most (if not all) people, probably including me would go to as extreme an extent, like selling your house, to save a pets life as for a childs life. Obviously I wouldn't have first hand experience with making decisions like that with a child, but I am willing to bed most of the readers of this blog, including the first commentor have had to either, so you really can't say what you would do. My point, which I have mentioned before here and elsewhere, is that if you are a responsible person, maybe even just a "humane" person, you shouldn't have a set "death limit" for your pet. When my dog started having all the problem he did, some of which were similar to the one in this article, like the monthly fee for life part.

Your saying...as many of the commentors have, that you will just stop at $1500, and that is only if you decide it is "worth it". So what happens when you hit $1500? do you tell your kid "sorry timmy, we had to kill sparky because if we spent any more, I would be dipping into the cable bill, and daddy would rather watch the superbowl"

That to me is irresponsible, and is just plain wrong. You shouldn't be going into owning a pet with his death sentance already planned out. Sure, everything has its and I, just like probably anyone else that said they view their pets as children, would do whatever was necessary to say my kid. You're not even giving your dog a chance. If your not willing to even attempt to make a sacrifice to save your pet, maybe even if it is only for another year, then you just plain shouldn't have one. Get a fish tank, they are cheaper and don't live as long.

You would really feel fine going to sleep the night after you put your dog to sleep when you hit that $1500 mark? especially knowing that their are plenty of reasonable sacrifices you could have made. It wouldn't....and didn't sit well with me to think that I chose cable TV, a better car, high speed internet access, a cell phone, or whatever other amenities you can think of over a pet...a companion...and a member of a member of the family, like your child, but I don't think anyone said that they would treat both the same.

Setting a limit of $200 on a cat? many of them live a good 20 years. That is just cruel, which again ties into the whole child thing. When you read in the paper about some parent who had been abusing their kid or depriving the child in some way, that is cruel, and shouldn't happen. Obviously not the same as with a pet, but a reasonable person can understand the differance. People spend $200 going to dunkin donuts. That is worth more than spending a little on your cat?

If you go into getting a pet with its death tally already planned out. Just do everyone who actually likes their pets a favor and just not get it.

I spent a ton of money to save my dog. He lived at least 2 years extra just because of that. The sacrifices I made were petty and insignificant. But I, am my dog enjoyed those 2 extra years. When the dog had to be put down when nothing else could be done, my younger brother had a real tough time dealing with it. The decision was all mine since it was my dog, but he lived with that dog his entire life, and now he had to watch him get put down. Fortunately he is old enough to understand why, but how do you parents that know so much more than me tell that to your 5 year old? Is the heartache and torment that they deal with worth anything? or is there a price on that too?

As I said in a previous comment on this topic, the $15,000 plus I spent just in the last 3 years of my dogs life were worth every penny. I would spend it again if it meant that I didn't have to see how heart broken members of my family were. I would have continued the $80+/month for the shot that was stabilizing his system, and I would have gone further if it hadn't reached the point where he couldn't breathe on his own, and would have died...more painfully, on his own days later.

Maybe instead of setting a predetermined limit on a pets life, you should figure out what "adjustments" you could make in your life to keep him alive.

Or maybe instead just watch your kids cry when you needlessly kill your pet.

Mike, both my kids and I cried when I put down the feral dog I'd foolishly tried to rescue. That's part of life, learning to live with loss and understanding that sometimes hard decisions have to be made. I sleep fine, however. I understood that the priority of safety for both my and other peoples' children outweighed the obligation to keep a feral and dangerous dog alive. In fact, I think it is a good thing for children to learn that Mom and Dad do not have the power to solve all problems.

Similarly, I understand and I am perfectly at ease with my choice to value a dog's life lower than the future education for my children and a comfortable retirement for me and my wife. I would sleep just fine, trust me.

The cat comment? Eh, it was a stray, and it hung around long enough that I started feeding it. Luckily, it wasn't as feral as the dog I mentioned. I consider any continued life it has to be out of pure generosity from my family. We don't owe it a thing.

I strongly disagree that setting limits ahead of time is in any way equivalent to "abuse", "cruelty", or "neglect". They get vet visits, they just don't have an infinite budget because they simply are not infinitely important to me or to my family.

Every dollar entering my family's life has a planned destination. The "latte factor" is not a factor in our lives. There are no instant savings of $200 to be made by stopping going to "dunkin' donuts".

I am amazed that you consider $15,000 to be "petty and insignificant". I wish I had that kind of deep pockets. My family makes well above the mean for the country, but we don't have that kind of discretionary income. A $15,000 windfall from cutting "insignificant" expenses in my family would be spent as follows:
Fully fund 2005 Roth IRAs for my wife and me: $4000
Fully fund 2007 Roth IRAs for my wife and me: $8000
Partially fund Oregon 529 for my three children: $1000 each

It isn't that the $15,000 is petty or insignificant. That money would have put me at least $15,000 closer to buying my first house. It would have made my life significantly easier than it is right now. My point was just that in my case I don't really regret that I spent all that money on my dog. I just have big issues with having a set budget beforehand for living things. I also took the clueless comment more personally that you may (or may not) have ment. I would be a fool to think that a dog and a human have the same value.

I may have over simplified the "latte factor", my point was that for "most people" as you originally mentioned, some smaller sacrifices could be made to possibly save the pet. I am sure you budget your money magnitudes better than I do, maybe you don't make a lot of frivilous purchases, but like you originally said. Most people don't go to that extent. I have been trying to get my finances in order for a while now. That was next to impossible having things like a pet that I considered an obligation to take care of. Since he had to be put to sleep I havn't gotten a new dog because I don't have the extra money for anything aside for the regular vet visits. That is pretty much what point was. If you can't afford a pet, you (people in general) shouldn't get one

I just can't see past the set budget part. Pets arn't toys. They can very easily end up being a massive expense. My case being a good example. I don't think people should go into owning a pet with the mindset that they arn't going to do much for the animal if a big problem arises. What happens if a problem arises and everyone in your family became really attached to the pet? I am not trying to say you are heartless, but that budget could easily change if something actually happened. I can see the $1500 or whatever budget you chose as being more of an emergency fund. I don't know how far I would have gone financially with my dog if I was married at the time, or had kids, but

Our last dog became very ill and we were told that with moderately expensive treatments she would live another few months, a year at the most. They could not say with any certainty what the quality of life would be, but that she probably wouldn't be her old self. We put her down, for her sake, not for the sake of whether or not the money could be better used to get my house payments a little lower, or whether I could pay off the car a little faster. If you consider the value of your pet to be a mathematic equation, please do yourself a favor and don't get one.

Of course animals aren't people and pets aren't our siblings or parents or children. Of course the measures you take to restore them to health are not the same. But neither should it be a math problem which results in a living creature being snuffed when they reach a magic number.

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