As a father in search of his DaddyBalance, I ask myself many questions. Many can’t be answered and that can become overwhelming. There are medical questions like “What is that bump on his head? Is it serious? Should I call the doctor?” There are social questions like “Does he play well with others at school? Does he misbehave like this when I’m not around?” Even political questions like “Which of these two candidates give my family the best chance for continued success? Which candidate will implement policies that are best for my boys?” To be honest, I don’t consider myself qualified to answer many of the questions that pop in my head, so let’s stick with one that I am qualified to answer:
“How much do you think it costs to care for Clifford the Big Red Dog?”
If you are new to parenting small children, or have retired from that game many years ago, you may not be aware of the three-storied Clifford and his child owner Emily Elizabeth. But if you are aware, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that question numerous times…right? No, really, please tell me that you’ve asked yourself that question…maybe once? No? Well, let’s move on…
As the story goes, Mary Elizabeth sets out to buy a puppy and chooses the runt of the litter, which happens to be a red Labrador. Once she brings it home, it begins to eat them out of house and home, becoming larger and larger until he’s outgrown the apartment, forcing Mary Elizabeth and her family to leave the city for the spacious island life off the coast. Let’s start here: That takes some real parenting dedication to uproot your family and job for a dog. Also, wouldn’t you think about selling him at this point? I mean you have a red dinosaur-size dog in your possession, at best, Purina wants it for science, at worst a traveling freak show would pay high dollar for this thing…sell then and you probably break even, hold onto him and your about to make a very sizable investment, how large? Let me answer that for you…Read on, my friends, read on:
Can you imagine feeding that animal? This would be one of your larger line items when assessing the cost of ownership. When you watch the opening credits of Clifford, it’s easy to see that he’s grown to become a 3 story behemoth. According to http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com, the average lab grows to be about two feet, meaning that Clifford is approximately 15 times the size of the regular dog (30’/2′). According to that same site, labs tend to eat 4 cups of food a day, once again multiplying this by 15, that’s 60 cups a food a day. Considering you can get 208 cups of food out a 52 lb. bag, it would take about 2 bags to feed Clifford for one week, or about 104 bags a year. At $25/bag, that’s about $2500. Let’s not forget treats, after all, Clifford spends most of his day saving the people of his island from fires and floods. Let’s assume 30 boxes of Kibble n Bits for the Big Guy, which will run us another $500. Grand total for food? $3,500/year.
Imagine filling up your child’s backyard pool…2-3 times…everyday! That’s a lot of water. I watered my grass a bit this summer and filled up the pool a few times and saw my bill skyrocket by over $100/month. I’m willing to be conservative here and say that Clifford would increase your water bill by $300/month. Who knows, maybe you could move to place that has a well or is close to a lake, but for the sake of this projected budget, let’s assume we don’t.
Ol’ Cliffdog’s not sleeping at the end of your bed. If you’re an avid watcher of the show, you’ll know that Clifford lives in a warehouse-like dog house. It looks pretty cool, actually, for a dog-warehouse. New construction on a place like that, with heating and cooling, could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we’ll assume $100,000. Further, let’s assume you believe Clifford will live for 15 years and you take out a 15 year loan, at a very competitive 4.35%, your mortgage, including estimated tax and insurance would come to $878/month. Congrats, you now have two mortgages.
Leashes, Collars & Toys
I checked out this site, to get an idea of various dog ownership costs. It’s been a while since I had a dog…Gracie was her name, lab/chow mix …she was nice…scared of her own shadow, shed all over the place, couldn’t sit down in a car, but nice none-the-less. She bit my oldest son, twice, so now she’s in doggy heaven. Look, I pretty much took the numbers from that site and multiplied it by 15…we don’t have all day here people, it’s a cartoon.
A shampoo & rinse at my local Petsmart runs $25-$50. If we multiplied that by 15, it puts us at $375-$750. How many times does Clifford need washed? Every six weeks? Every few months? Who knows, but I assumed $3,500 for the year.
|Type of Expense||Approximately Amount/Yearly|
|Food and Treats||$3,000|
|Mortgage on Dog House w/ 1% Tax||$10,300|
|Leashes and Collars||$375|
|Routine Veterinary Care||$3,500|
|Preventive Medications and Supplements||$500|
|Average Monthly Cost of Owning a Dog||$2,014|
|15 Year Cost||$370,125|
The costs to medically care for a dog the size of Clifford could be off the charts. According to the site referenced above, you should budget $200-$300 year, which would put us in the $2,000 range, but quite frankly, that seems low, so I made up a number and we’ll go with $3,500. Throw in another $500 for preventive care and supplements and I’m beginning to wonder if Obamacare covers Big Red Dogs.
So, how much does it cost to care for Clifford The Big Red Dog? About 2 G’s a month, $24,000 a year, or $370,000 for a 15 year life span…for that kind of money, he should be able to talk…oh, he does? Maybe we should call that freak show! The lesson here? Don’t let your child buy a red dog…ever.
As a father in search of his DaddyBalance, I ask myself many questions. There are, of course, real questions that need my attention. Questions like, “which school should Henry attend?” “Is Charlie’s speech OK for a three-year old?”…”Is that O.J. or pee on the floor?”
Other questions enter my mind, or better yet, are sent there from others. But part of finding balance is understanding which ones stay and which one’s go. A father, a mother, a parent of any kind, could, if they weren’t careful, spend a lot of negative time and energy debating questions of perceived importance. They could double down on that mistake by debating those questions with information based on assumptions. Assumptions of fiscal cliffs and balanced budgets…assumptions of future job growth and unemployment…assumptions of tax rates and “One-Percents”, but debating at the top of my lungs those items based on assumptions & assumptions only, seems to be silly to me…as a silly as a statistical analysis of a cartoon dog.