When we were at the Ren Faire two weeks ago, Justin and I saw something that we had never, ever seen before. It had nothing to do with renaissance times or the colorful people who attend the Faire. It wasn’t something we ever expected to see at the Faire. And it wasn’t something we were even looking to find. But there they were: A pair of Bichon Frise dogs up for adoption.
We’ve been talking about getting dogs for years. For longer than we’ve been living in this house, which is almost as long as we’ve been married. We’ve wanted dogs for a long time. But we’re very specific about the kind of dogs that we want. We both have a lot of allergies, so only one of the very few breeds that are allergy-friendly would work. And only one of those is a breed that we actually like: Bichons. Small little fluff balls with puppy personalities. They’re just about the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.
And there they were! Sitting in a pen at the pet adoption booth at the Faire. Bishons never come up for adoption – not full-blooded ones anyway—and suddenly there were two of them just sitting there, their curly hair cut short, poking their button noses through the wires of the pen. I didn’t even notice them until someone else in our group pointed at them, but then I bee-lined right over to them and asked if I could hold one.
And I sat there at the edge of the booth, with a Bichon on my lap, snuggling his soft fur and babbling nonsense at him, while Justin stood nearby patting the one being held by a booth volunteer, and I just melted. I turned into butter and melted to a puddle on that bench. When the volunteer put them back into their pen and we walked away, I almost broke into tears. I wanted to take those dogs home with us.
That evening, at the hotel, we looked up the group who was offering the dogs and tried to find information about them and how the adoption process would work. We didn’t find the dogs listed, so the next morning, we sent an email asking for more information.
A couple days later, the woman who’s fostering the dogs emailed us back. Over the next couple days, during which she gained a grandchild, we emailed back and forth – her mostly saying that she’d love to give us more information, but she was a little busy at the moment, and us saying congratulations and please just contact us when she had time.
Friday afternoon, she called. She told me about their history, as much as she knew, and their personalities. We talked about the adoption process and how that would work. Most of that conversation now is a blur – I was so overwhelmed that she had called. I do know that she said they were neutered and had all their shots. That one was 1.5 and the other was 3 years. They’d been together for a long time and she wanted them to go as a pair – which was fine for us because we’d want to have two anyway to make sure they didn’t getting lonely. One of them loved belly rubs and the other just loved to be on your lap. And the adoption fee would be somewhere around $250 per dog, but she’d be willing to negotiate that because she wants so much for them to go together.
We told her that we were very interested but we’d have to look over our finances and get back to her. We’d get started on the paperwork, though, so that could start working its way through the system.
The $250/dog was daunting, but doable. Especially since it seemed like we’d be able to work out something to reduce that by a whole lot – maybe by as much as half.
That evening, we talked with our friend Julie, who works as a vet tech, to ask what we’d be getting ourselves into. She told us about flea prevention and heartworm medication, shots and dental care, and all those sorts of things. Some of it we already knew about, but heartworm is much more prevalent down here, so that was news.
Justin started researching how much we’d need to do in order to get the house prepared and how much we’d need to pay per month to take care of them. He came up with a number close to $150/month. Still doable, but it was starting to become a little worrisome. We started talking about whether or not we wanted to have pets more than we wanted to get out of debt as quickly as possible. I was still head-over-heals about the dogs and was willing to compromise our plan by a couple years in order to have them. I daydreamed about them constantly – how it would be to snuggle with them after work, about going on walks, playing with toys. I wanted the dogs.
I emailed our landlady to ask of the $500 pet-deposit in our rental agreement was a per-dog fee. She emailed back and said that it was per pet. $250 of it would be refundable, but the initial payment was going to be $1000. That number was entirely out of reach of our budget. There was no way we could add $1000 expense to our month, in addition to the $250 plus adoption fee (maybe plus more for 2 dogs), and initial costs (vet visit, leashes, dishes, brushes, etc.). I considered that maybe we could defer some of those payments, extending them over several months.
I was talking to Mom while thinking all these things over and she laid it straight out. She said that it was an insane amount of money to pay (for the pet fee) and that we shouldn’t do it. I, of course, didn’t like hearing that because PUPPIES. I wanted the Bichons. I was still processing it through and trying to find a way where we could afford it and still have the dogs.
I talked with Justin about it after I got off the phone with Mom, and he gently pointed out that Mom was right. It’s a lot of money. And we’d really have to decide which was more important – getting out of debt or having the dogs. Because it wouldn’t just set us back a little bit; it would set us back by YEARS. If we keep going the way we are, we could pay off the final credit card, the computer debt, all the trips we’re making this year, PLUS THE CAR before the end of 2013. If we decided to get the dogs instead, it would be a lot longer. He was willing to do it if I really, really wanted to do it. He wants me to be happy. But I needed to be sure.
So I thought about it. I had a cry over it. And I decided that there would be other Bichons eventually, and that these two Bichons were not going to belong to us. It wasn’t a No-Not-Ever decision, it was a No-Not-Now. We’ll keep working hard to pay off our debts and then, once we were on solid footing (and hopefully in a house that does not require a $1000 fee), we’d look again.
Until then, I’m going to start picking up things that we’d need for the dogs – dishes and brushes and leashes. I’ll keep an eye out for sales or things that are just too cute to pass up. Maybe I’ll start stockpiling distilled water, since apparently that’s what they’re supposed to drink (it helps keep the tear stains away). (Actually, I just looked it up, and I think maybe we’ll save money for a home distilling machine. It’s $200 up front, but it’ll probably be worth it.) Basically, I’m going to keep an eye out for things because we are going to need them eventually. And that’s my promise to myself, the thing that keeps me from crying of heartache: EVENTUALLY.