Elizabeth Davies says the emotional benefits of dog ownership can outweigh the financial cost

By Elizabeth Davies

As long as I can remember I’ve been a dog person. This may have something to do with my severe allergy to cats, perhaps some deep seated resentment of the haughty creatures that make my throat itch and my eyes sting and stream. However even if I wasn’t allergic I don’t think I could ever fully embrace a cat as my pet of choice.

When it comes to cats it would seem their owners are somewhat disposable and easily replaced. If you’re not showing them constant attention they will happily leave you for someone else, perhaps with better food and a warmer lap.

I’ll be the first to admit that cats make better pets while renting. They’re cheaper to purchase, easier and less expensive to feed and maintain, not to mention they have a far less detrimental effect on your renting options.
Despite all this last January my partner and I purchased a dog. We thought long and hard about the decision and thoroughly researched breeds before making our choice. We decided that as we were living in the city on a smallish section and we were both working it would be unwise to purchase a large dog. Big dogs need big runs every day and realistically we knew we couldn’t promise this.

So that was the first decision – we were settled on a small dog. The main issue with small dogs is noise and aggression. The last thing I wanted was a yappy, annoying little monster with small dog syndrome that would drive everyone insane and nip at the heels of everyone in sight.

After a lot of deliberation we settled on a particularly expensive breed. Franko is a French bulldog and he’s just turned one. He’s sweet by nature, incredibly quiet and whilst he loves to run and play he won’t freak out if he misses a walk.

One of the main motivations for getting a dog was the way he would improve my mental and emotional health. A number of mental health workers and depression sufferers alike will testify that the unconditional love of a dog offers unrivalled ongoing support.

Owning a dog has drastically improved my mental health. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to get out of the house every day. Even when I’m feeling particularly bad I have to get out of bed to feed him, and I have to get out of the house to walk him. I’m forced to exercise – another proven method of improving your mental health.

There are most definitely costs associated with dog ownership. We’ve spent money on vaccinations, de-sexing, flea treatment, worming, blood tests and food, not to mention the initial purchase cost. However it’s a decision that has so drastically improved my life I don’t regret it for a second.

We were dedicated to his training from day one and as a result he’s an absolute sweet heart. He’s very quiet and as of yet has not destroyed a single possession despite his incredibly strong bulldog jaw.

On first inspection most rental properties deny pets, however our previous landlord provided a pet reference and we were offered three properties in Tauranga despite having a dog.

Purchasing a dog may not be the most logical financial decision but for many the emotional benefits outweigh the financial cost. Franko is an investment in our health and happiness, and it goes without saying, he’s showing amazing returns.

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Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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3 Comments

Humans are wonderful creatures, with the right noises we can get them to convince themselves of anything. woof woof.

Pets insurance.. cost benefit analysis anyone? 

Its a proven fact that dogs enhance your wellbeing