Shooting Sundance

I have a goal this weekend to get a great picture of Sunny. So, much to his dismay, he gets to spend his days being followed by his own personal paparazzi (puparazzi?). He isn’t the most willing model (he’d much rather be cuddling or playing), but he occasionally forgets to make himself blurry and takes a pretty handsome picture. Then it’s just up to me to not ruin it!

Admittedly, a couple of these images are not my best work. They are really more of a reminder to use an actual camera and not a smart phone. But, it felt like cheating to post just one image, so we have a few that show his personality and a few that show his rugged good looks!

Sunny close up

Sunny helping with make up

Sunny helping foster mom get ready for work – which he now does daily!

 

Sunny cuddles with his foster dad

Sunny cuddling with foster dad on a cold night

Sunny close up

Sundance shows offSo yes, I have a photo-dodging dog. He’s like an adorable little big foot. But he cleans up nicely! Please feel free to share him if you think you know someone who might want to adopt him!

Good-bye To A Dear Friend

It’s been weird for me to take such a long break from blogging. Usually, I find solace in writing, but for the past month or so this hasn’t been the case. I knew I needed to update all of you wonderful readers (at least the ones who were patient enough to stick around), but I just didn’t have it in me.

After 16 happy years, Miss Desi has passed away. We adopted her when she was 1-2, and I was just 8. Since then, she has been an irreplaceable part of the Smith family. She has played the role of a loyal friend and dutiful guardian. She has made us laugh and made us cry. She was my best friend at a time when I had very few, and I always called her my ‘other sister’. Michael even says she’s the dog who made him a dog person.

I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood companion. It was incredibly difficult watching her age. My respect for my parents has grown tremendously. They worked so hard to make her comfortable and brought her back from the brink on multiple occasions. It was only when she seemed to be in pain more often than not that they followed her into the back room of our vet’s office for the last time. As difficult as it must have been watching her take her last breath, it would have been harder on her to die alone. I cannot thank them enough for being there for her. I know my sister and I wish we could have been, too.

My mother actually sent me some of her own thoughts to post – something I never thought she’d do. My parents have always struggled with my willingness to share my life online. So, for them to show a very vulnerable part of themselves on the blog is incredible to me. But I believe it’s a wonderful way to honor Desi’s memory.

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Tips For Financially Challenged (Or Just Frugal) Pet Owners

I’m young. I’m a recent graduate. And I’m unemployed. I do my best to live as frugally as I can. That includes how I take care of Lana. I aim to be, if I’m being honest, “cheap” while not sacrificing her health or happiness. I certainly don’t have a perfect system, but I’ve noticed some tricks that help me save money on pet care.

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1. I buy food in bulk. Lana gets a pretty good brand of food, but I buy 40 pounds at a time, bringing the price down to about a dollar a pound. Then I store the leftovers in airtight containers in a closet. I use a charcoal container, but I’ve seen people use tins and garbage cans.

2. I splurge on an all in one flea/tick/worm preventative. This, I also buy in bulk. Trifexis is the biggest chunk of Lana’s vet bills (normally), but I just feel like it does a better job than if I bought separate preventative medications. It’s worth a little extra up front. And don’t forget the rebate!

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Lana takes Trifexis, Desi takes Sentinel. Talk to your vet about which prescriptions are best for your dog!

3. Don’t assume 1800petmeds is the cheapest place to get prescriptions. I’ve used them before, but by the time you added in shipping and handling it was about the same price as going through my vet. Plus, it takes longer. Instead, do your research. Check their site, your vet, and even your local pharmacy. Some, like Target, even carry generic versions of many pet medications.

4. Whether or not you need something right now, always keep an eye on sales. (Petsmart has a sale going on right now!) After holiday sales are especially convenient – your dog will never realize they got a brand new Jack-o-Lantern toy in April. If you stockpile items on sale, you never have to pay full price because you need something immediately.

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I stock up on Nylabones, Dentastix, a racket balls any chance I get.

5. Groupon sometimes has pet stuff too! I mentioned this on the Facebook Fanpage earlier last week, but I’ll just remind y’all.

6. You could make dog treats yourself or treat your dog to bites of dog-safe human food. Is this actually cheaper than traditional dog treats? Probably not. Is it cheaper than the super healthful, really aromatic dog treats you can buy? Probably. (Unless you bought a bunch on sale like I suggested!) Either way, it’s easy enough to do. You can check out my doggie ice cream recipe here! (And of course I’ll post more recipes soon.)

7. Remember, continuous upkeep is cheaper than quick fixes later. This can be your dog’s weight, their dental health, their grooming, etc. Better to brush their teeth a few times a week than pay the vet to put them under to do a deep clean. Better to brush your dog’s gorgeous coat than wait until it’s matted and you have to turn to a professional groomer. And it is way better to watch your dog’s weight than wait until it has a negative effect on their joints and overall health.

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Another option for cheap toys is empty pill bottles or coke bottles. (Under supervision only!)

8. There is no shame in buying used when possible. I bought Lana’s nail clippers from a friend who decided she’d rather just have her vet trim her dog’s nails. (I might do the same if Lana had black nails, so no judgment here, even from a frugal mom!) More realistically, big purchases like outgrown crates and even FURminators can easily be sanitized and reused. It might not be easy to find someone selling one of these things right when you need it, so you might have another item to add to the stockpile when you find it.

9. If your dog is as crazy destructive as some of mine are, you could make your own toys. My father made Lana a rope that has help up pretty well – I definitely need to pin him down on how he did it. Another option is one I shared on the Facebook page recently. Take a muffin tin and put a treat in one of the cups. Then cover all the cups with tennis balls. The cup with the treat could have a different colored tennis ball, but it’s probably not necessary. Dogs will have to use their heads (or at least their noses) to find the treat. It’s a good way to keep them busy and quell that boredom-based, destructive urge.

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We always buy the girls’ costumes in November, when they’re on sale.

10. Rather than buying cheap toys all the time, if you don’t want to make them all yourself, invest in a more expensive but more durable toy. It saves money because you don’t have to buy 80 plushies, and because your dog can’t rip them to shreds and eat the pieces and require surgery. Like some dogs we know.

11. Do as much grooming as you can yourself. I’m lucky to have a fairly clean, not overly fluffy dog with a good deal of white nails. I don’t usually have to go to the groomer. Anything you can do yourself to eliminate trips to the groomer, or at least make them fewer and farther between, could really save you money.

12. Training saves you money! Training can eliminate destructive behaviors, keep your dog safe (yay fewer vet bills), and might even save you money on insurance. Ask your home insurance provider if Canine Good Citizen could lower your premium. At the very least, some companies have lifted their ban on certain breeds if the dogs pass the Canine Good Citizen evaluation.

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Training can save you the cost of a good pair of work heels, among other things.

13. Speaking of insurance, think about pet health insurance. I can in no way promise this saves you money. It could save you crazy amounts of money. Think boatloads. Or, it could cost you. It’s a complete gamble. But for some of us with accident-prone pooches, it’s probably best to bite the bullet and buy insurance.

14. Consider mobile vets for shots. I shouldn’t even have to remind you that it is definitely better than going without. Also, consider picking up a free or discounted spay or neuter voucher. Want more? Follow your local shelter on Facebook. That’s how I found out about their discount microchipping days. Lana and I waited in line to get some very reasonably priced peace of mind. Worth every penny, and way cheaper than going through a vet.

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This blue mess was once a rope.

Dogs are expensive, and not a spur of the moment investment anyone should make. But, like anything else in life, a little bit of planning can make your pet care budget go further. What do you do to save money on pet care?

We Want It Wednesday: Pet Health Insurance

ImageI spent this morning sitting in front of my computer listening to one of the most relaxing sounds in the world. Whenever the erratic clicking of the keyboard stopped, I got to hear Miss Lana’s soft, steady breathing. Not an ugly, loud snore. Just a sweet little feminine cadence of breaths.

And boy was I grateful for that calming white noise, because I was in the middle of shopping for pet insurance. I’ve never bought insurance in my life! How fun it is to be an adult.

My insurance wants and needs were as follows:
-A reputable company
-A low monthly cost, with the option to increase coverage once I get some sort of paying job
-Coverage for the things that seem more likely to affect Lana (like accidents)

What did I find? High monthly payments or absolutely terrifying Yep reviews.

ImageMy lovely mother helped me locate a company recommended to my father (sort of) by his employer. Pets Best Insurance. Their website looked great, their policies wonderful, and their rate just peachy. I Googled them, just to make sure. One star reviews ran rampant on Yelp. Not to mention, far from helpful company responses. It was enough to scare the heck out of me. So I kept searching the internet, hoping for a second source. Their Facebook seemed to elicit pretty positive reviews from customers. I’d hardly trust their social media, but come to think of it, the Yelp reviews (most of them, at least) were pretty old. Maybe a new company had taken over and fixed things? I knew that Pets Best is offered through Progressive, but I didn’t know how long it had been that way.

Never one to like ill informed decisions, I browsed http://www.petinsurancereview.com/ – a third party website where pet owners can leave reviews of their insurance company. The reviews of Pets Best on that site were largely positive, and far more recent than the majority of the Yelp reviews.

ImageHonestly, I was a bit overwhelmed with this experience. Not because there were no options or opinions, but because there were so many. Which is a great problem to have! While I did actually research many companies, I ended up going with the super cheap Pets Best for Lana. I’m positive one day I’ll switch her policy, if not the company, but for now I think the accident only coverage fits my needs best. (Knock on wood!!!)

Unless they change the rates on me, it looks like I’ll be paying just under nine dollars a month for her insurance. (Hello, same price as Netflix.) It’ll cover things like animal/snake/insect bites, getting hit by a car, foreign body ingestion, poisoning, etc. I considered adding the routine care coverage because it helped pay for heartworm prevention, but for me the benefits weren’t worth the added premium. There is a two dollar transaction fee, which of course bothers me, but at least you get the option to pay quarterly, yearly, etc. to limit the number of times you pay that fee.

ImageNow to get back to important things – like napping

I will certainly keep everyone up to date on my honest experiences with Pets Best. Hopefully any of you considering pet health insurance will find the right company for you.