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Pet costs can be burden, surprise in hard times

By Paula Burkes Modified: May 20, 2009 at 10:47 am •  Published: May 20, 2009
I incurred a surprise expense last week. A neighbor’s Great Dane got in our back yard and bit our 9-year-old husky mix, Eddie. The vet bill was $70 for the antibiotics, exam, clipping, cleaning and stapling his wounds. In today’s economy, such unexpected costs, well, bite.

My predictable pet expenses alone are significant, including $210 for meds to prevent heart worm, fleas and ticks; $60 for rabies and other vaccines; and about $500 a year for dog food and biscuits. And that’s not counting periodic grooming costs (he’s been skunked once) and boarding, which can run $18 a day.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association, caring for a dog or cat costs about $11,000 over their lifespan.

Jennifer Miller of Oklahoma City has spent that and more on her four canines. She’s paid $8,000 alone on her puppylike 14-year-old lab, who’s survived two types of cancer and has a chronic neuromuscular disease. Of her three poodles, one takes monthly meds for seizures and another has colitis.

"It’s been worth every penny,” she said. "Our dogs are our family.”

My daughter Jessica, 7, calls Eddie her brother. He walks her to the bus every morning, is glued to her side once she’s home, and even sleeps on the pillow next to hers. The dog, with his ice blue eyes, is a godsend. Before my dear friend, Martha Collar, died of leukemia 18 months ago, she gave him to us. So he is a daily reminder of her and our friendship. He’s also been a ready running partner and a loyal companion in my life.

Martha and I once laughed over a fridge magnet I gave her. "Lost dog and lost husband,” it reads.

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