My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hot Diggity Dog

Reggie and Whitney
Pic by Trudy Rudolph
Did you ever wish after a hard day’s work that you were a dog? What a life. Wake up and go to the bathroom, get fed, play and/or walk, get a snack when your guilty master goes to work, try to have sex with the next door neighbour’s dog, take a nap (a long one if you were successful with the dog next door), go for another walk, greet your master(s) at the door, lick them and get a cookie, get fed, watch some TV, go for yet another walk and then back to sleep. All this must be done while being massaged, patted and kissed by family members. Then if you are real lucky you get a $12,000,000 inheritance or an $8,000,000 mansion and $3 million trust fund.

Since this is a financial blog, the thin thread of finance in my post today will be the cost of owning a dog (Actually, after last week's brain numbing three part series on small business owners remuneration, I needed a less taxing topic). I have two dogs, Reggie and Whitney, both schnauzers (see picture). Reggie the male and larger dog is a half-brother to Whitney (see the first paragraph about trying to have sex with the dog next door. In this case, Reggie and Whitney’s mother was successful, or at least the neighbour's dog was successful).

I have had several dogs during my lifetime and I have typically passed on dog insurance. Boomer of Boomer and Echo (Robb Echo) wrote an excellent article on how much we spend on our pets. In the article Boomer noted that the average dog owner spends $1,800 a year. I got the feeling Boomer found this to be on the high end. So being the anal accountant I am, I went back to look at my Quicken data for the last three years and found my annual cost per dog was closer to $2,800 a year. Ouch. Last week in Carrick on Money, Rob Carrick posted this article on the lifetime costs of owning a dog, which I consider on the low end.

The major reason my costs are higher than the “supposed average” is that when my kids went off to University a couple years ago, we decided to hire a dog walker a couple days a week. Our dog walker is also our dog's trainer. She is publicity shy, so I will not mention her name, but she is a great trainer and walker and loves the dogs. That being said, two things became glaringly evident: dog walking is a nice gig if you can get 4-6 dogs for each walk, and we could easily reduce our costs if we cut out our dog walker.

The other Costs

Food – $65 for each bag of food (special food required due to Whitney having crystals in her urine), so around $800-$900 a year in total.
Grooming – $110 ($55 each dog) for grooming, so around $500 a year.
Vet costs – vaccinations, heart worm medication, check-ups, (each dog has required an operation and had some skin infection); so from $1,000 to $2,000 a year.
Kennel costs – when on vacation if a family member cannot take the dog (we are lucky, often our breeder takes in our dogs at a reasonable cost), the costs of boarding can be as high as $400-700 per week for both dogs.  
Dog singing lessons- just joking, but check out Reggie and Whitney singing. Whitney actually sings on demand. She is often the star attraction at family gatherings and some relatives start singing on purpose to get her crooning.

I am sure many readers are thinking I am nuts for spending that much on our dogs, but if you are a dog lover, you understand this. If not, you never will.


The great “dog’s life” I discuss in the first paragraph, is unfortunately dependent upon the dog being purchased or adopted by a great family. Many a dog has been mistreated, abused or worse by miscreants who had no right owning a dog. If I ran the court system, any kind of criminal infraction against dogs, or any animal for that matter, would be treated the same ways humans are and would be interchangeable in court sentencing (although we don't exactly levy heavy sentences for many human infractions). Anyways, I am off on a tangent, but now I feel better.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.