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Going to the dogs

Finding a suitable replacement for Wyatt is a real challenge

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 4:59 a.m. CDT

Our dog isn’t quite at the end of his life but, at nearly 11, he is showing his age. He has problems with his hips and can’t jump up on the bed anymore. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from getting up there.

He has figured out that if I’m still up watching TV, he can come to me and act like he needs to go outside. When I stand up to take him out, he runs to the bedroom instead of the backdoor. He waits patiently by the bed so I can pick him up. He’s no dummy.

His life expectancy is 13-14 years. I don’t want to be around when the day comes when he goes. To plan ahead, I suggested to my wife Penny that maybe we should invest in a second dog.

Oh, my stars, it was like unleashing a kid in a candy store. She had the day off and spent just about the entire time searching for a dog to adopt. All day long, I got texts from her suggesting one breed then another. She said she’s not convinced that we should get another dog, but she sure spent a lot of time looking. Late into the evening, she was still calling up photos of dogs online. Wyatt, our loveable mutt, seemed to know what she was up to, and he was not impressed. He doesn’t think we need a dog. I didn’t say “another” dog because Wyatt doesn’t consider himself to be a dog.

We prefer mixed breed dogs from local dog pounds. We’re not going to spend hundreds of dollars for a purebred animal when there are thousands and thousands of dogs in pounds that need good homes.

Plus, purebreds can tend to have genetic problems. We aren’t interested in breeding or showing dogs, so mutts are fine with us. It’s amazing, though, to see how expensive it is to adopt a dog from some shelters. I realize that the shelters have expenses in treating, housing and feeding the animals. But they might adopt more of them out if it was more affordable for people to do it. When it costs $150 or more to adopt an otherwise unwanted dog, that’s approaching the cost of buying a dog from a pet store.

On the one hand, it makes sense to charge those who want to adopt because they are benefiting the most. Why should taxpayers shoulder those costs, especially in this economy? On the other hand, animal control benefits everyone including those who don’t own pets. An argument can be made that those who adopt the animals are doing society a favor, and with vet visits, beauty shop visits, food and licensing, it costs hundreds of dollars a year to keep a dog, so there’s a big financial commitment regardless.

One solution may be to look at the cost of licensing. Where we live for instance, it costs $150 to adopt a dog but only $8 to license one. People who have the means and choose to purchase purebred dogs at $500 to $1,000 or more pay the same fee to license their animals as does someone who has saved an abandoned dog from euthanasia. I’m not suggesting that those who pay retail for their pets should pay more than others for licensing, but an annual fee of $20 for everyone would not be burdensome and could significantly reduce the adoption costs so more dogs would be adopted.

In our case, we’ll probably go to a smaller town where we can adopt a dog for about $60. It will be a tall order, though, to find another dog as good as the one we have. Well, I have to go now — Wyatt wants back up on the bed.

——

(c) Copyright 2012 by David Porter, who can be reached at david@ramblinman.us. All rights reserved.

Now I’ve got you thinking about getting a dog, don’t I? Do us all a favor and check with your local shelter; your best friend is there waiting for you. And if you happen to see a fuzzy, cuddly one that looks like he’d be the perfect pet, let me know.

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