Looking Forward to When our Dogs Die

Now before you start flaming me for what you think I am going to write, please take a minute to read this article.

You see, we absolutely love our dogs. We have two incredible dogs named Frodo and Biscuit. They’ve been around almost as long as we’ve had kids, and are an integral part of our family.

I struggled with the title to use for this post. I ultimately landed on a title that reflects our current feelings on where we see ourselves in the future. We are talking more about how we want our future to look, and that includes whether or not we will replace our dogs, once they pass.

So let’s start with introducing our pets.

Our Dog Frodo

We will miss this cute puppy face.
When Frodo was a puppy.

Our dog Frodo is a Blue Heeler mix. He is our “protector”. He has a ton of tenacity for his size and is always paranoid about anyone who knocks at the door.

Our dog Frodo is a protector.
Frodo loves to look out of the window and make sure we are free from danger.

He has a disturbing fascination with cats. Would he attack or eat a cat? Or is he just extra curious? I’m not sure, but he bolts towards any sign of a cat like a lightning bolt.

He’s agile, fast, and incredibly strong. He’s got a strong jaw (which makes tug-of-war a serious game). But he is a lover at heart and will roll his belly up when I bend down to pet him.

He definitely is “my dog”. He will follow me wherever I go, and when I am in my office, he lays by the door. He’s as loyal as a dog can be! He is around 9-years old, and we got him at a local dog shelter when he was a puppy. Frodo “thinks” he is the alpha male (compared to Biscuit), but I don’t know if our golden retriever understands that hierarchy.

Frodo is always wanting my attention.

He has some dominant traits. When we first went to the shelter to look for a dog, at first, we didn’t see him. His brother was forcing him to stay in the corner. This was important because we didn’t want any issues with a dog trying to dominate our kids. Frodo was friendly from the start, and we knew he would fit into our family.

He has a special relationship with my oldest daughter. He was a puppy when she was a baby. They have an incredibly close relationship, and there is no doubt he would do anything to keep her safe.

Frodo is highly intelligent. He was very easy to train. In the below picture, I was training him to “stay” and releasing him with a command.

Our dog Frodo being trained how to stay.
Our dog Frodo being trained how to stay.

Our Dog Biscuit

Our dog biscuit as a puppy.
Our dog Biscuit, when he was a puppy.

Our golden retriever, Biscuit, is a ham bone. You would be hard pressed to find a dog that shows as much love and affection as our golden retriever. Or a dog that is as floppy as he is.

He’s always happy and loves to play. He’ll carry his toy around constantly, and play “hard to get” in trying to entice you to take his toy. There is nothing he likes more than playing outside.

Our girls love to play with Biscuit, from the day we got him!

On the bravery side of things, he is extremely lacking. If you start holding an object that he is unfamiliar with, he gets nervous. It’s as if he thinks I’m holding a lightsaber when I grab the fly swatter. He thinks Andrea’s large muscle roller is a cylinder of death. He’s never trusted our vacuum.

Biscuit’s a fairly large dog, but he thinks he is small as he will try to sit on your lap. He’s got what I like to call “permanent puppy eyes” that are as cute as they come. You need to watch out for his tail, as it will launch any suspecting coffee mug within its’ reach!

Biscuit as he grew up.
Biscuit as he grew up.

Frodo Did Not Like Biscuit

When we first got Biscuit, Frodo did not like him at all. He would show his teeth when he got close and would give him warning growls. But that didn’t stop Biscuit from trying to play with him.

But with enough time, they ended up becoming best friends. Now they are inseparable.

They are now best friends.
Our dogs Frodo and Biscuit taking a nap.
Our dogs Frodo and Biscuit taking a nap.

What I Love About Our Dogs

Our dogs have given us unending joy over the years. They are always willing to play, and it’s clear their hearts jump for joy at any sign of attention.

Honestly, they are a central part of our family. We do not regret having our dogs, and we wouldn’t give them up for the world.

The amount of affection shown between our girls and our dogs is heartwarming. They have added so much to our lives, and I know the girls will miss them tremendously when they are gone.

It’s crazy to see how excited they can be for the small joys in life: going outside, wrestling with them on the ground, playing tug of war, etc. Any time we give them attention, their tails wag ferociously fast, and it is clear we mean the world to them.

The Darker Side of Having Dogs

At this point, I hope it is clear how much we love our dogs. But having two medium sized dogs is not always sunshine and rainbows.

So what are the negatives owning a dog?

  • I hope you like to pick up poop because you will be doing a lot of it any time you take your dogs outside.
  • Our backyard lawn is trashed with urine “dead spots” and Biscuit is trying to make a hole to China.
  • Kennel training a puppy is hard. I woke up every 4-hours when they were young so they would learn to use the bathroom outside.
  • Biscuit has decided that all ziplock bags could contain yummy treats. So we will consistently find ripped up bags when he is left alone.
  • For whatever reason, both dogs love to eat so much grass that they end up vomiting throughout the house.
  • Everything is covered in a thick layer of dog hair around the house. I think Andrea is going insane trying to keep our couch free from dog hair.
  • It costs about $30/mo to feed our dogs, which is in addition to buying them extra treats and toys.
  • When we go on vacations, we need to either find a “dog sitter” or end up paying around $40-$60/day to have them boarded at a local company.
  • With Frodo, we get an extra doorbell when anyone comes to the door. We need to make sure to keep him in our room when we take a nap.
  • I’m not sure if I’m taking Biscuit for a walk, or if he is walking me when we go outside.
  • Biscuit has decided to barrel charge the front door anytime it opens. He will push you to the side as if he is breaking out of prison.
  • We need to make sure to keep up on their shots, which can get pricey.
  • We’ve been lucky in not having to go to the vet for medical issues, but this does happen to other pet owners. And chances are, we will need to take them in for some reason in the future (cha-ching!).
  • Biscuit is a licker. He’ll randomly come up to you and start licking your knee. If he was a person, he would end up in prison in no time.
  • We have to keep an eye on their water dish to make sure they always have water. Otherwise, they will drink out of the toilet!
  • You can’t just live anywhere with two medium sized dogs. If you are going to rent, at a minimum you will need a pet deposit, and your options will be limited.
  • Our carpets throughout the house, especially on the stairs, take a beating from their paws.
  • At times it is cute when my dogs follow me everywhere. But sometimes I just need my space!

Do we regret having our dogs because of these things? No. But we are at a point where when they die, we will not be getting any more dogs.

I’m not advocating that I “hope” our dogs die early, or that we will get rid of them. But it takes time and money to be a good pet owner, and by the time our girls leave the house, it seems like the cost does not outweigh the benefit for us.

It Becomes About Freedom

Out of all the extra work it takes in being a dog owner, there are a few negatives that stand out the most to us:

  • Taking vacations
  • Where we can live
  • Cleaning time

We’ve talked about potentially downsizing after our kids move out and spending more time traveling. Having two dogs means we have to find a place that allows pets, and we need to have our dogs taken care of while we are away. If we decide to take extended vacations, this can quickly become expensive.

The amount of dog hair that accumulates throughout our house is insane. Everything gets covered in hair fibers! Keeping the floors clean (carpet and vinyl) is a ton of work.

As much as we love dogs, these monetary and time costs are looking like they probably won’t be worth it for us in later phases of our lives. Not having dogs to take care of means more time to do other things, and will save money in our budget.

Our Dogs Are a Part of Our Family

When I thought about writing this article, my heart quickly became filled with sadness.

Because we do love our dogs more than anything in the world—not having them around is going to be hard for the whole family, which does not make me happy. And I generally like our dogs more than I like most people.

I know some people who are going to see the title of this article and immediately think I’m a dog hater.

Biscuit and my daughter when they were young.
Biscuit and my daughter when they were young.

We love dogs, and we will always love them. Watching puppy videos is something we do as a family all the time. But when you are looking to have as much flexibility with what you can do and where you can go, dogs strap you down. For some people, this is exactly what they need and want. And it has been great raising a family with fur babies running around.

As there is a time for everything, we feel like the next 8-10 years will probably be our last dog owning years. Obviously, we have time to think about it, but that is where our thoughts have been going recently.

Figuring Out Priorities

All of this stemmed from us having conversations on how we want our future to look.

Is it possible that when our incredible dogs die that we decide to get new dogs? Yes. But we will have to figure out if this lines up with everything else we want to do at that time in our lives. Because the cost is hefty.

And isn’t that what life is about? Making sure your decisions and commitments line up with what you want out of life. By having fur babies, we either have to make sure we can cover the cost to do what we want (like extended travel), or decide to cut back on our travel plans. And find a place that works where we can have pets.

Being a dog owner feels similar to being a parent. You are taking responsibility for a living/breathing pile of fur that is a part of your family. We can’t just decide one day that we no longer want to be parents. If we are going to own pets, it is for the long term (if it is within our control).

There is no doubt there will be a ton of tears when our dogs do pass. It’s is going to be a sad day I do not look forward to. But at the same time, it is the end of a commitment we made to our awesome dogs. There is no contract that says that once we became dog owners, we have to continue to be dog owners our whole lives.

As much as we love our dogs, once they are gone, so ends our dog-owning days.

Relish Every Moment

As I wrote this article, I’m reminded about how much joy our dogs bring to our lives. And how much we are going to miss them when they are gone.

It’s making me realize how valuable their company is to us. When we do get to a point where we can spend our time however we want, I’m going to look back on these days with fond memories.

Making great memories are invaluable. When we do transition to a new phase in our lives, that will open us up to making new and different memories. A period of sadness will be replaced with new experiences. It seems this is the natural flow of life.

This post is meant to do a few things:

  • A post dedicated to showing how much we love our dogs.
  • Talk about how our future might end up changing when they are gone.

It’s a way for us to prepare for what might happen. By thinking about this early, we set ourselves up to be more prepared for this transition. It might be a ways off, but we love our pets so much, it is going to be a hard decision either way.

I hope you understand the heart of this post. At first, I didn’t want to publish it. But then I felt like I wasn’t being true to myself. It’s such a hard topic/idea to think about. But sometimes hard decisions are needed to pursue what matters most.

If you are a dog owner, don’t take for granted the time you have with your pets. Because you might end up deciding that pet ownership is not for you in the future.

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Peter
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I can completely understand the perspective having been a dog owner in the past, and not having one currently. I don’t regret in the slightest having our dogs Buddy and Nala in the past. They added so much to our lives, and were such an important piece of our family. By the same token we were not looking to get a new dog right away after they were gone. It was nice to have the freedom of not having a dog around. Not always having to rush home to let the dog out, not having to find someone to watch… Read more »

Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early
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Oof. This is a hard post to read. I SO love having dogs but my husband is currently on the “let’s take a break for a while” after our two pass. Granted, one has been VERY expensive the past couple of years, and neither of them travel super well. On the other hand, I think maybe one better traveling dog (with insurance up front) might be a good compromise. It’s hard to think about life without snuggly dogs. That, and I’m a complete sucker for shelter animals (not limited to dogs and cats), and that is absolutely never going to… Read more »

Financial Pilgrimage
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This is such a great post.

One of the reasons why we’ve stuck with cats is because we are out of town on weekends frequently and you can leave a cat unattended for 2 or 3 days without issue. Regardless, aging pets are tough to deal with. As much as we love them, once they begin to have medical issues it’s really challenging to make decisions that’s best for both parties.

You obviously have a lot of love for your dogs and I hope you continue to enjoy your time left with them.