Monday, August 8, 2011

Dog House or Poor House, Which Ones Worse?

The other day I had to call an HVAC repair guy to take a look at our air conditioner. In the 90 degree heat we've been having, our A/C just hasn't been doing the job. He came by and did his typical once over of the system, then came up to inform me there was a significant blockage covering the cooling coils. He said he could clean out the system and get it running in tip top shape for the low low cost of $297.00. I sighed, shaking my head, knowing it was going to cut into our meager vacation budget for the week, then agreed. I never thought to ask what exactly was blocking the cooling coils, but it didn't take long before I found out.

After about an hour of banging and cleaning I heard the repair man coming up the stairs. I turned around and saw him holding the "blockage" in front of him, like linen from a leper colony. The issue, as it turned out, was dog hair. Not a little dog hair, but a huge, giant, wad about the size of a football.

When he saw me he said "here's your problem" as if it weren't obvious enough; then we both laughed and dry heaved a little, then threw the giant mass into the garbage with a thump.

As he finished up it occurred to me how much it really costs to enjoy the pain... I mean pleasure of our beloved pets companionship. I don't mean the cost of feeding them, housing them, or keeping them in the air-conditioned lap of luxury they've become accustomed to. No, I'm talking about all the incidentals that come up thanks to their particular brand of dogged habits and curiosity.

We have three dogs, and they've all had their way with my pocket book at one time or another. You've all heard about Daisy, the 100 pound bottomless pit of love. If not, check out the blog "Never trust a dog to watch your food." She has by far been the winner for high dollar pet in the family. What with new carpet, and expensive surgeries to counteract her eating marathons alone , she has become the all time champ for sucking down gobs of our hard earned money.

Fred, our second dog, hasn't exactly been a slouch in the money spending department however. He's a 20 pound miniature pincer mix and he loves everyone. You can pick him up, turn him over, smother him with toddler kisses and he doesn't care as long as he is getting love. This however is also his Achilles Heel. He longs for the companionship of any human within sight distance, and he will do anything to get to a wayward stranger passing by. Thus was the birth of Fred the escape artist.

The little dog was an acrobat from the beginning. The first day we brought him home, we put him in the back yard. He walked up to the three foot chain link fence, and climbed it like a spider monkey. I don't think he even missed a step. He was up and over before we could snatch him up and we spent the next several hours chasing him down.

So expense number one became the five foot wood fence we would purchase to keep him safe at home. I purchased the materials and installed it over the next week. We let Fred out into the yard and away he went, surveying his new confinement. At first he seemed defeated by the new barrier, but we soon found out he would not be deterred. As it turns out Fred is also quite an accomplished digger. He whipped under the fence like an escaped convict, and before we knew it, he was off again. In the weeks that followed we tried everything from apple spray to Cayenne pepper, but nothing would keep him from his freedom. I guess he would just hold his breath and burrow through so he could wonder the neighborhood for a new family to invade.

After several weeks a neighbor gave me a great idea. He told me to dig a trench about 8 inches deep along the front fence line and fill it with concrete. He said it should discourage him enough to make him forget about it and give up the fight. I thought this was nothing less than a stroke of genius. I went out the next day, picked up a few bags of concrete mix and went to digging. A couple of days later my project was complete, and I let Fred out, confident in my victory. I stood there in the yard, watching him scratch at the concrete, looking pathetic and defeated, and I smiled, thinking I had finally proven mans superiority over this dogs meager intellect.

Unfortunately, my smile wasn't to last long. As I stood there watching him, Fred looked back at me and sneezed out what I swear was a laugh. Then without taking a single step back, that little dog crouched into a spring, then bounded straight up to the top of the five foot fence. It took a little scrambling on his part at the top, but he made it. He stood for a moment, poised at the pinnacle of his victory, and I can only imagine the little doggie laughter that passed through his mind. Then with a quick hop, he was off, and I was after him again.

Since that day I conceded my defeat. I have purchased him tags that have our phone numbers and the caption "My name is Fred, I like to run away." Now, when he manages to escape, we just wait for the inevitable phone call about the adorable little dog they've found. All in all we spent hundreds of dollars trying to keep our dog home, but in the end, it was a $10.00 tag that did the trick.

I love our dogs, well except maybe Daisy. I'm thinking of writing a children's series with her as the goofy villain. I think it would sell like gangbusters! Maybe she could earn back some of the money we've spent saving her from herself.

Our pets can cost us more than we spend on or children, but we keep them around anyway, and we love them all the more. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of the creative ways our pets can cost us money but I keep telling myself it must be worth it.

What kinds of things have kept your pets near and dear to your pocket books. I would love to hear about it. Maybe next time I'll tell you about the rather nasty habit our third dog Ethel has. I'm not sure if its nutritious but I am sure it's disgusting.

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!!


  1. LOL! Football-sized furball. So funny. Great story!

  2. Hi Chuck! Your observations made me laugh as I often wonder who's the superior species esp when I'm swabbing the kitchen floor yet again or cleaning up dogs' mess in the pouring rain. We currently have three - a border collie so intelligent we've taking to spelling words like park walk & ball - though he's now showing signs of recognising spelling, a jack russell puppy (adopted) that wants to fight everything & everyone & the very self important Tinker a Chihuahua/terrier.

  3. Dog house or poor house it's all the same when you're chewing on bones.

  4. Julia. So true. I bet they're just hiding in the corner thinking up what they can do next.

  5. Hi Chuch, this is a delightful story so reminiscent of shared experiences with our beloved pets. I am a fiction writer too and you may enjoy Miss Diva's articles as she puts 'paws to paper' observing her view point. She loves to be followed. My writing coach is