I’VE LATELY BEEN talking to Rachel about getting a dog. Not now, but sometime in the future. When Rachel retires, we’d like to do a lot of traveling and taking care of a dog would be difficult. But when we slow down, I believe having a dog would improve our lives in our declining years.
How so? A few years ago, my neighbor, who is retired, told me she lost her husband. She said his passing was extremely painful. But when she lost her dog a few years later, it almost killed her. When she first told me her story, I thought she might have missed her dog more than her husband. But what she was really saying was the dog made it easier to deal with the loss of her husband. The dog helped her with the grieving process. The dog provided her with companionship and comfort at a time when she needed it the most. When her dog died, she was alone, with no familiar face to help her get through the day. That’s when it became more painful for her.
I wish I’d encouraged my parents to get a dog in their later years. It would have helped my mother deal with the loss of my father. My mother says nighttime is the most difficult time; having a dog by her side would make it easier. Unfortunately, at this point, she feels it’s too late to get acclimated to a new dog.
A dog would be good for health reasons, too. My mother’s neighbor, who was retired, had a dog. She walked the dog all the time. When the dog died, she stopped walking. Her health started to decline rapidly. My mother talked about how that dog helped keep Fern alive.
Rachel and I are like a couple of goats. We walk all the time. When one of us is gone, the dog would be a good companion and a reason to continue walking. It would help us get through the difficult times that lie ahead.
I still think about the dog my parents had when I was in college. I loved that dog. I used to hit ground balls to her in their backyard, using a baseball bat and tennis balls. Those are among my fondest memories. I still have dreams about that dog.
I believe a dog would fit in our budget. According to the America Kennel Club’s website, the average first-year cost to raise a dog across all sizes is $3,085. This includes all its shots, spaying and neutering, initial medical exams, supplies and food. The average lifetime cost of raising a dog is $23,410. This doesn’t include training classes and private lessons.
Before we get a dog, there’s one major concern that we need to address. What would happen to the dog if it outlives us? We need to make sure the dog will always have a home and be cared for.
The Humane Society has drawn up a process for “pet estate planning.” It involves setting up a separate fund to cover your pet’s expenses and making it part of your will. It also suggests creating a trust fund for your pet, with a trustee who would oversee the trust and check on the pet’s well-being. I’d recommend consulting an attorney to get the proper documents drawn up.
Dog are always there when you need them the most, providing love and loyalty. That’s why I’m determined that we should eventually get a dog. I’ve thought a lot about what our future dog would be like. The dog would be a female, medium size, and from a shelter and hence in need of a home. Oh, and the most important thing: Her name would be Dottie.
Dennis Friedman retired at age 58 from Boeing Aerospace Company. He enjoys reading and writing about personal finance. His previous articles include Little Jack, Cancel the Movers, Let’s Take a Ride and I Can’t Do That. Follow Dennis on Twitter @dmfrie.