Putting a Price on Puppy-Love

Three dogs anxiously wait behind the driveway gate. The car pulls into the driveway and the trio jumps up and down. Suzi Kilbride is home after a long day at work. The dogs let out impatient whines. As she opens her car-door, their whines become howls. Tails wag furiously as the friendly fur-balls blindly trample over each other to greet their mom.

The three dogs let everyone know their mom is home. According to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) Pet Ownership Survey, the Kilbrides are one of 78 million American households to own a dog. Owning a dog can be a costly expense, but most people believe dogs are worth every penny.

“I’ve had dogs that have chewed their way through the house and cost a lot of money,” Kilbride said. “The bottom line though is that all goes away and they love you.”

Kilbride lives in Kansas City, Mo., where she is a teacher and mother of three grown children. Kilbride had always wanted a large dog and purchased her first Pyrenean Mountain Dog, commonly known as the Great Pyrenees, over thirty years ago.

The Kilbrides now own a Great Pyrenees, a golden retriever mix, a Shar Pei and two cats. The five animals are not pets either; similar to most households, the pets are family. According to The Harris Poll, 91 percent of dog owners surveyed consider pets family members too.

Families spend money to take care of their members, and canine members are no exception. The APPA shows people in the United States are spending more money than ever before on their dogs. In 1994, Americans collectively spent $17 billion on their pets (APPA). The report shows in 2012 Americans spent the most ever recorded on their pets: $53.33 billion.

According to Britton Hunter, president of the non-profit organization Friends of Kansas City Animals, dogs are children to many people. As a result, the market of services and products for dogs has exploded with growth.

Cindy Cowherd, a dog lover and DockDogs competitor, believes pet ownership has grown as a result of several factors, one of them being the recent economic crisis.

“Before the recent economic crisis there was a large amount of disposable income and many people were having children later in life,” Cowherd said, “That’s when pet ownership and the prominence of dogs in our culture began to grow.”

While the costs of dog ownership are high, most owners agree they are worth the price. The constant companionship and loyalty of dogs transcend the money spent to care for them.

Carol Massman, a stay at home mother of four in Kansas City, Missouri, never wanted a dog.

“I had four kids and I didn’t need to have to worry about a dog too,” Massman said. “We finally caved to our children’s begging and got our first dog 14 years ago. I don’t know how it happened but we now have three large dogs in the house.”

Massman says she cannot imagine life without dogs now. She spent approximately $2,500 on her three dogs last year, which was not an easy expense.

“I cringe at the bills every time I see them,” Massman said, “But, gosh, there just is nothing better than the joy these dogs bring. I could never put a price on the constant love they show me just through their goofy paw-shakes, wagging tails and a heads in my lap. Everything is worth it for that.”

What makes your dog worth the price? Comment below to
get the dog-loving going.

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