Should you get a dog if you live in an apartment/are a broke college student/working a lot/single?
I recently had two people ask me how I manage to care for Ralph while working/schooling on a limited budget.
Obviously, my situation puts serious time and financial constraints on what could be used to care for a dog, but I make it work…how? Let me share.
You will need to take your dog out at least twice a day. Make sure you can give appropriate time to walk your dog in the morning and evening when you return from work. If you’re single, you need to ask a roomie or a friend to stop in and check on the dog on long days away from home.
You can have roomies or friends check in on your dog during long work days. For awhile I had to work 10-12hr. shifts (I so quit that job btw. No pay raises? No thank you! But I digress…) For longer days, dog walkers can be hired to check on your dog for around $10+ a day- it’s not the most frugal of options, but it doesn’t have to be a regular service (just for long days or busy schedules) If you live alone you can manage if you’re up to it-lots of people work and have pets.
My next advice regards puppies. If you’re a busy professional or a broke student, do NOT get a puppy. Puppies are expensive to buy, expensive to treat and time consuming to train. I chose to adopt an adult dog simply because he was already trained, out of the annoying chew-everything-phase and was already fixed.
Adopt from a shelter to save money. As mentioned above, puppies are expensive. You can get almost any breed you want from animal shelters- I got Ralph from a pug rescue. Your adoption fee covers spay/neuter, shots and most preliminary care they need before they’re adoptable. For around $300 your dog will be good to go and happy to have a home!
You can swap pet care to cut down on costs. Especially when you’re off at college, you’ll go home for holidays. We all have to travel, and if you make friends with other pet owners you can swap care. Sending your pet to a kennel or doggy day care is costly but not unbearable if you have to do it. I am broke as a joke, and it’s been okay!
Be sure to budget in money for pet care. If you’ve considered the time and energy it takes to have a dog, you will also consider the financial costs. Ralph had a lot of preliminary care before he was adoptable, but this month he had to have a tooth extraction and some antibiotics for an ear infection that cost around $600 for the checkup, dental work and prescriptions.
How do I afford it? Well, I’ve had to make a few sacrifices and take on some extra freelance work to afford the his food, care and other little luxuries. If you can make room in your life for a dog and are dedicated to really putting in what it takes to give him/her a good life, go for it.
Is it worth it to you? I was super scared when I got Ralph. I was worried that even though I was committed, that I would fail and I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Turns out, once I learned to adjust to his care- make room in my budget, schedule time for his walks in my morning/evening rituals and the extra time it takes to feed, clean and play with him it was a breeze. Anything worth doing is worth that adjustment.
He sleeps in my bed every night, and he is the most adorable cuddler. Taking him for walks has finally gotten me to commit to my health and getting up on time on my off-days. He makes people smile when we’re out and I feel totally grateful to have him as a sidekick and not in a shelter.
It was worth it to me. It was a stretch at first, and it still takes some occasional adjustment, but do the best you can- be committed to their care (even if it means no new shoes for the first few months!)