This post originally ran on my blog, Kara’s Reliquary, in November 2009, at the height of the financial crisis. It’s a humorous look at justifying the expense of a pet in your budget. This seemed like a good day for some comic relief, so I’m sharing it here. Hope you enjoy it.
I have to hand it to my husband, Stephen. His gripes about our dog, Chiqui, are always timely. He has often complained that she adds negative value to our household, but lately he has taken to referring to her doggie treats as “unearned bonuses.” In difficult economic times, we are all concerned about spending money on luxuries. But it seems a little unfair to subject the family dog to the same scrutiny as other line items on the household budget. However, in an attempt to pacify my frugal spouse, I submit the following written justification for Chiqui’s continuing role as cherished pet.
1. Exercise Program: Chiqui has enough energy to power the state of California indefinitely. But since we don’t have her hooked up to the grid, it is imperative that we find another way to release that energy so she doesn’t eat the walls (and she did actually eat a portion of one of our walls once, so we try to avoid that now). Chiqui requires two walks a day minimum, rain or shine. This means that I walk for an hour or more every single day. Walking is good for me. Walking is good for Chiqui. Walking is good for our walls. Score one for Chiqui.2. Companionship/Stress Reduction: Although Stephen thinks Aibo is all the pet an animal lover could want, I prefer real live animals, especially dogs. Robots are fun for about eight minutes. I checked. One of the reasons we adopted Chiqui was so I would have a buddy when Stephen is traveling. Notice I say “buddy” and not “protection”. Chiqui would let anyone in our house and offer up all our belongings if only they gave her a treat. Well, she would if she wasn’t hiding under the table. Protection, she is not. But after a long day at work, it gives me a huge boost when Chiqui bounds over to greet me. And after we have had our walk and our dinner, she is happy to cuddle up and have her belly rubbed. This is proven stress relief for both human and dog. At least it is in my house.
3. Comic Relief: This is the area in which Chiqui excels. Of the many unbelievably silly things she has done, one of my favorites was the Red Dog Incident. Stephen was in the backyard painting the arbor over our deck. He was painting it red. We were keeping Chiqui in the house to keep her out of the painting area. But I can only let a dog stand by the back door with her legs crossed for so long. I let her out, but went out to supervise her to keep her on the lawn and off the deck. She did her business and before I could usher her back into the house, she took off on what we call her “crazy run”. She zooms around the back yard at high speed in kind of a half hop half run. Once this starts all you can do is get out of the way, because if her skull hits your shin, her head will be fine and you will be on your way to the E.R. to find someone to repair your shattered bone. You can all see what’s coming, so why on earth couldn’t we stop it? She ran/hopped onto the deck, which was covered with slippery plastic tarps. She bounced right into the paint tray, turning it into a sled that flew across the deck while paint splashed everywhere. A significant portion of this paint ended up on Chiqui. She was red. It is to my everlasting sorrow that I did not take a picture of my Red Dog, but the paint was oil-based and we were focused on getting the paint off the dog as quickly as possible. Soon she was mostly black again, although we occasionally found tiny red patches on her fur for about a month after that. Sure, it was a pain to get everything cleaned up, but we were laughing our heads off the whole time. One cannot underestimate the value of a good laugh, and Chiqui provides them in vast numbers.If you are strictly playing a numbers game, Chiqui offers no discernible financial value to our household, but as we all know, there are things that money can’t buy. Stephen can continue to ask me if I would give Chiqui up if someone offered me a million dollars (Stephen also provides many good laughs), but my answer will always be no.
Please comment below and share how your pet adds value to your household. I could use the ammunition.