A Month Spoiling a Rescue Dog on a $75,000 Salary · The Wildest

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Petty Cash

A Month Spoiling a Rescue Pit Bull on a $75,000 Income—Mugs With Her Face on Them Included

From dry shampoo to bandanas in spring pastels, this upstate New York pet dad gives his foster fail the good life.

by Editors
April 23, 2024
Stocksy / WhitneyLewisPhotography / Kinship Creative

Welcome to Petty Cash, a series where we find out just how much real people are spending on their pets in a month — from weekly costs and treat budgets to surprise vet visits and next-level splurges. To take part in Petty Cash, submit your monthly pet spends here.

Pet name: Bella

Pet age: 9

Pet breed: Pit Bull 

Location: Hudson Valley, New York

Household salary: $75,000

Pet parent’s job: Writer

What’s your gotcha story? When did you get your pet, and where did you get them?

It was the summer of 2021 — mid-pandemic — and my girlfriend at the time had her heart dead-set on us becoming fosters. To be clear, fostering is a commendable endeavor, but I knew neither of us had the emotional strength to handle the process of welcoming a dog into our lives and then handing them off to someone else.

Bella was the first and only dog we fostered, because naturally, we didn’t waste much time in adopting her. Twenty Paws Rescue in Brooklyn reached out about Bella the weekend we got approved for fostering. Her previous family had scheduled and paid in advance to have her euthanized that Monday. Thankfully, Twenty Paws scooped her up and brought her to us before that could happen. When the crew brought Bella out of the car, and she ran over to me, I immediately knew I was never going to let anybody else adopt her.

How much did your pet cost?

$0. An award for foster failing, I suppose.

How much (roughly) did you spend on up-front costs for Bella — things like beds, bowls, litter trays, collars, etc.?

Around $100, probably. I had already been surrounding myself with friends who are pet parents, so I was given a lot of canine hand-me-downs to start with. Most of the upfront cost went to a crate that she never used. 

How much do you spend on pet insurance each month, and what does it include?

$0. When I first adopted Bella, I also did not have health insurance. I do now. She does not.

How much do you spend on any subscriptions for your pets each month?

$104 for a monthly supply of Royal Canin Large Digestive Care Dry Dog Food.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought for your pets?

A four-week board-and-train program for just under $5,000. It was aimed at helping her animal reactivity and didn’t really work at all, which has been fun for me. 

What’s the most outrageous purchase you’ve made for Bella?

I’ve been surprisingly tamed with purchases for Bella, though it has certainly been a concentrated effort. I did once, however, buy her noise-canceling headphones because it seemed like some road work being done on my block was vaguely annoying to her.

Have you ever bought anything inspired by your pet/with their face on it? How much did you spend?

On the other hand, purchases inspired by Bella have been anything but tame. I’ve had mugs and tacky blankets made with her face on them and will one day undoubtedly have her tattooed on my body.

After falling victim once again to an Instagram ad, I also once had a custom Bella Pokémon card made up. In fairness, her farts were worth 250 damage points.

Do you have any tips for saving money on pet spending?

I think buying in bulk is the most surefire means of saving money on pet supplies. Other than that, don’t be like me and get pet insurance

Week One

Purchase 1: Royal Canin Large Digestive Care Dry Dog Food, $104

I get Bella a monthly subscription to this food for sensitive tummy from Amazon. The 30-pound bag arrived as it does every month, delivered in the least convenient spot possible. I ventured into the chaotic abyss that is the space below my apartment building’s steps before awkwardly lugging the box up the stairs and toward my unit.

This is mostly performed through a series of acrobatic box drags and pushes. Like most months, I pull my back doing this. Thankfully, it’s all worth it because Bella loves this kibble, and it doesn’t give her diarrhea — unlike most things.

Purchase 2: Bone marrow treat, $6

Like so many before her, my dog struggles with separation anxiety. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of picking her up a reward whenever I go grocery shopping for the bravery of staying home alone for an hour.

This week, I grabbed one of her favorites, a bone marrow treat. It’s a dual-purpose prize because, for one, she deserves it. And it’s also one of the few things that’ll distract her long enough to allow me to put groceries away without incident.

Purchase 3: Orthopedic bed, $87

I am a simple man who simply takes far too many trips to Target. While there, I purchased a new comfy dog bed in hopes of training Bella to better enjoy sleeping in her own space over mine. She and I go through this dance every couple of months, and she continues to sleep in my bed every night. Bella was psyched at the sight of me opening a large box in front of her. Upon learning it was just another bed, though, she was less enthused. She gave it a few sniffs and laid on it briefly before launching her body back onto my bed for the night.

Week Two

Purchase 1: WAHL dry shampoo, $9

Spring has started, and the forecast was 80 percent rain for most of this week. Bella generally refuses to go to the bathroom unless we’re at least half a mile into a walk, so this time of year wreaks havoc on her hygiene and my footwear.

She hates baths and I, frankly, don’t have the time to give her one multiple times a week when she’s getting rained on and picking up mud along the street, so dry shampoo is a lifesaver. Plus, Bella loves it because she just thinks it’s a massage when I’m applying it. Like most of my pet supplies, regrettably, I bought this off of Amazon.

Purchase 2: Bocce’s Bakery Soft and Chewy treats, $7

As previously mentioned, Bella has some tummy issues. There are only so many things she can eat that won’t upset her stomach, and Bocce’s treats thankfully fall under this category. So, they’ve become her go-tos. I buy them off Amazon, and they’re usually only a few bucks.

To encourage Bella to sleep in her new bed, I give her one of these treats every time she lays on it. She quickly learned this was a way to get unlimited snacks and proceeded to sit on the bed, take a treat, then get up and hop into my bed to eat it. I’d be more frustrated if I wasn’t so proud of her ability to hustle.

Purchase 3: Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste, $18

Another Amazon purchase — apologies to all the warehouse workers out there. While there have now been multiple Beyoncé albums released since the last time I saw a dentist, I take Bella’s dental hygiene very seriously.

These tooth-cleaning treats seem to do the trick without making her sick, so I usually get a bag every few weeks. Bella will eat them but doesn’t always seem to love the taste. My theory is she can just tell they’re good for her, so she’s being a brat about it. Kids, man.  

Purchase 4: Chuckit! ball, $8

While I was checking out on Amazon, they pushed me a version of the classic Chuckit! tennis ball . Of course, I bought it because Bella is obsessed with tennis balls and has had fun with Chuckit! toys in the past. Unfortunately, she can love a little too hard sometimes, and this new one didn’t last more than four days before she destroyed it.

Week Three

Purchase 1: KONG Ball, $14

Bella’s sad and confused after destroying yet another ball, so I go to my local Amazon website and order the strongest one I can find. She’s had a couple of these in the past and was never able to break them, though they have long been lost to the bottomless void that is the space below my couch.

I filled her new one up with treats before giving it to her, and she had the time of her life. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time until it rolls under the couch, and I’ll be forced to face my demons, aka the fact I need to sweep more often.

Purchase 2: Earth Rated Poop Bags, $13

It’s been three years, and Bella still gives me the same perplexed look every time I pick up after her. Thankfully for my neighbors, I don’t often succumb to peer pressure, no matter how cute the source. These Earth Rated bags are heavy-duty, which is ideal because Bella’s a big girl. Not to mention, they’re made from recycled plastic.

Purchase 3: Vet care, $90

You can get this done by a groomer for less, but Bella needs a little extra attention and tends to scare most groomers. Bella had to have her anal glands expressed. It’s a procedure she has done every couple of months.

She understandably hates it and usually blames me for the entire experience. After we got home this time, she ignored me for a few minutes before realizing it was dinner time. Then we suddenly became friends again.

Week Four

Purchase 1: Natural Dog Company Skin Soother, $15

I apparently passed my lifelong struggle with seasonal allergies onto my poor dog, so her paws can get super dry this time of year. Not to mention, she’ll pick at them which only makes the situation worse.

I buy a few tins of this stuff every year, and it’s perfect for solving the issue. Bella doesn’t love people messing with her paws, but she’ll reluctantly let me apply the balm to them, and it’s usually enough to stop the irritation.

Purchase 2: A pack of four bandanas, $10

I can’t have my girl walking around town naked, so I tend to stay up to date with seasonal bandanas. I bought a new pack of four in spring pastels from — where else — Amazon. The first one she wears is pink, in hopes it’ll help make her look less imposing to people afraid of large Pitties (however wrong they may be). It doesn’t really make a difference, but she feels pretty in it and that’s all that matters to me.

Total monthly spend: $381

  • Vet care: $90

  • Grooming accessories: $42

  • Food: $104

  • Treats: $13

  • Toys: $22

  • Lounging accessories: $87

  • Walk accessories: $13

  • Clothes and wearable accessories: $10

How do you feel about this month in spending? Will you change anything going forward?

I’m not at all surprised with my pet care spending habits. It actually looks like I spent less money than I would have thought on Bella, though that’s probably more a reflection of my terrible bookkeeping than anything else.

I’d love to say I’m going to cut back, but I know I won’t. If nothing else, I’ll probably buy her another bed she’ll barely use in a month or two and run this whole exercise back.

Would you like to participate in Petty Cash? Share your monthly pet spends here.

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