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Gen Y Dogma: How To Handle Pet Expenses When Your Partner Gets Laid Off

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Mom always said: “Expect the unexpected.” And you finally realize what she was talking about when a huge and unwelcome surprise comes knocking at the door. That’s what happened to Christina Peden this week, and here’s how it affected her as a pet parent.

They say that life is full of curveballs, and that has, perhaps, never rung quite as true as last week, when I got an unexpected midday phone call from my boyfriend, Ryan.

The news was crap-tacular: he had just been laid off from his job at place that he really liked and had been working at for the past few months.

Related: 4 Ways A Puppy Tests Your Relationship

cost-of-pet-ownership-infographicAs soon as my phone rang and I saw it was him, I knew something was off; my stomach sank a little. We usually text back and forth periodically throughout the day, but we’re both busy at work and don’t call one other unless it’s something really important. This was one of those important phone calls.

Needless to say, it was pretty shocking for both of us. Ryan definitely had no idea it was coming.

Even though the economy is improving, losing a job still isn’t an uncommon occurrence these days. Last fall, I was laid off from a start-up I was working at, and it totally felt like a punch to the gut, even if it wasn’t personal. I was lucky in that it didn’t take me too long to find work after what could have been a huge setback. That said, this was before we adopted our dog, Matilda. In fact, my job loss happened just a few weeks before I met Ryan, so while I was stressed, I also only had to worry about supporting myself.

Related: How to Calculate A Doable Budget For Your Dog

Now the stakes are a bit higher. I’ve got an amazing partner in crime (and our first anniversary is almost here!) and we’re pet parents to an equally amazing kitty and puppy. While I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s definitely more financial responsibility!

For a breakdown of just how much money we spend on our pets, take a look at the awesome infographic from DogBreedIdentifer.com.

Of course, we’re looking forward to Ryan getting back to work in the near future, but for now, we’re looking at shaving down our expenses wherever we can, and that means pet care costs as well. (Note: We’re definitely not compromising on the animals’ wellbeing in any way, but we’re cutting costs on some of the “luxury” things that we can.)

Below is a list of things we’re cutting back on to save money. Should you or your partner ever end up in job-related limbo, feel free to steal these ideas to lighten the load a bit, too.

Dog Walking Service

When Ryan and I were both working, we paid a dog walker to come and take Matilda out for at least an hour every day on a group walk. It was definitely expensive, but Matilda is a Border-Collie/Lab mix and has absolutely boundless energy; there’s no way on earth we would leave her cooped up all day with nothing to do.

Of course, now that Ryan’s mainly home during the day, he’s taking her to the dog park and we’re saving a significant amount of dinero. For us, cutting this cost was a no-brainer, even though Matilda loves going out with the pack. Thankfully, our dog walker Murielle said she’d be more than happy to set up dog park hang outs with Matilda and Ryan, so Matty will still get to hang out with her favorite four-legged friends (and Murielle, who she’s developed quite the affection for.)

Obedience School

Don’t get me wrong: Matilda is an absolute sweetheart. The only thing she’d ever kill you with is kisses. But, we’re still working on things like pulling on the leash and jumping on people when she gets excited. And it’s also not her fault — this is our first time raising a dog from “scratch”, so to speak, and we need training as pet parents on how to properly teach Matilda, just as much as she needs to work on the finer points of good manners.

We were just about to get all set up with obedience training when the unexpected happened, so for now, Matilda’s appointment with Miss Manners has been cancelled. (Key words there being “for now”. Got it poochie? Hehehe.)

New Toys

Matilda goes through toys like she goes through water. Honestly, we’re lucky if a toy lasts her two weeks without getting destroyed. I mean, this dog has destroyed a Kong, for goodness sakes. It took about six months, but still!

Of the last toy haul we got her, only one is still standing. She’s also got one other pretty ragged looking Kong toy left from her puppy days, a Kong ball, plus an old knit slipper of mine she likes to carry around. So while she loves getting new toys, that practice is going to have to be put on hold for the time being.

Since she has toys, it’s not like we’re depriving her, so we don’t feel too bad about this. Plus, Ryan is home with most of the time now (which she absolutely LOVES), so she’s got her daddy as full time, living, breathing human toy.

We think she’s gonna be just fine.

Now, over to you guys — have you ever been in a position where you had to pull back on the financial reigns a bit to make things work? What is my list missing?

Share your tips in the comments below!

christinamatildaChristina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada’s all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city’s numerous parks or curled up with a good book.


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