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Our Best Friend

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“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” – Gilda Radner (comedian)
I was initially going to start this article off with something quirky like how our dog was my Valentine this year instead of my husband, but let’s be real here…this little four-legged fur baby holds a special place is both our hearts and lives, and she will always be our Valentine.
Without further ado, meet the infamous RRjR. She’s an 18-year-old Jack Russell who doesn’t look a day over 5. Okay so maybe she does, but people always think she’s still a puppy. And maybe it’s because she’s only 12 pounds and can still run around in fields and give the best hugs. She used to have black spots throughout her white body, but like most living things, she has slowly turned white over the years and is almost completely white (or grey, whatever you want to call it). She officially goes by the name Cookie. Unofficially, she goes by: Cooks, Cookster, Cookie Monster, Little Monster, Monster, Little Babe, Shadow, Sweets, Sweet Pea…you get the gist.
You see this little angel used to be James’s, but as luck would have it, her allegiance changed and she quickly became my dog. I think it might’ve been having her as my flower girl in our wedding that won her over. As she has gotten older, she tends to need to go out in the middle of the night, and I have turned on my maternal instincts when it comes to this dog. She starts whining, and I’m automatically up. You see we will do just about anything for this dog, including taking the time to cook her a gourmet meal.

Cookie as our flower girl. Photographer: London Lane Studio

Unfortunately, little RRjR is allergic to grass, off all things. I know what you’re thinking, what dog is allergic to grass? Our dog, that’s who. And because of this allergy, she needs prescription hypoallergenic dog food. This dog food is not cheap, priced at $84.99 for a 17.6 lb bag. She used to really like the food, but over time, she started performing hunger strikes to protest the food. So, James and I decided to start mixing up her diet a little bit and get her interested in her food again, because good heavens we couldn’t have her wasting that expensive ass food.
We quickly became master chefs when it came to making her food because we would have to cook a new batch every 4 or 5 days. Each batch would consist of her dry dog food, ground turkey, eggs, rice or oats, and canned green beans or shredded carrots. She would get a bowl full of this one time a day. We continued this for a little while until she became disinterested again, leading to longer than 4 or 5 days to get through a batch, resulting in spoiled food. We were forced to throw away food, which is basically a cardinal sin to us. Also, having to throw away her expensive prescription food? You can forget about that.
So once again, we switched things up.
It’s much more stream-lined in not only the steps we have to take to cook her food, but also the ingredients in which she gets. We give her about half a cup of her dog food with an egg and oats or rice. Pop it in the microwave for a minute or so, until the eggs are done, and she’s got her meal, still gourmet even without all of the extra ingredients. Sometimes she’s beyond excited to eat, and other times, not so much. In that case, we entice her with a little bit of peanut butter or olive oil.
IMG_4720 (1)
Christmas Portrait. Photographer: Zoë Photographía

Cookie is pushing 19 years old, and she’s been, understandably, struggling with more health issues lately, like arthritis and gum disease. We recently got her CBD oil to help ease the stiffness and inflammation. And while it seems to be helping, it’s really too soon to know. This past year, we’ve had to spend hundreds of dollars on her teeth and gums, but she’s not always so expensive. Actually, we always think people might overexaggerate on pet costs, but that’s because we are still frugal when it comes to the pupper.
Some ways we personally have kept costs down for Cookie:

  1. Brush her teeth almost every night.
  2. Regular walks, morning and night, to not only keep her in good health, but to keep her nails filed down.
  3. Supplement her prescription food with cheaper, budget-friendly, and still healthy food.
  4. Feed her appropriate amounts, so she doesn’t have any heart, obesity, or unnecessary joint issues.
  5. We never feed her “table food”, although I guess you could consider eggs and oats or rice “table food”, along with the occasional bite of banana.
  6. We don’t buy her toys or treats (she wouldn’t play with toys even if we bought them), and we don’t buy her new beds or crates, when we can just occasionally wash the ones she has.
  7. We have used the same leash and harness for going on 4 years, we got a new one just because her old ones got lost.

These are ways that we have personally kept our pet costs low with our dog. Understand that every animal is different, and what works for us might not work for everyone else. I just wanted to share how we have kept costs low, when we could have easily been spending 2 or 3 times more than we are now.
Dogs don’t require much, and it takes very little to make them happy, just attention, affection, and especially food. They also bring so much joy, laughter, and happiness into our lives. My heart swells with love every time I look at Cookie. So tell me, do you have any dogs or pets? If so, what kind are they? Are there any recurring or unexpected costs you have experienced?
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”– Josh Billings


  • Angie Sapphire

    Wonderful post and pics! how adorable!
    I do have a dog (always have one) his name is Leo. The expenses of food are low since I share my blueberries, apples, and spinach with him (I freeze them inside a kong or just mix them with his food), we have gone through three collars and two harnesses so far (he is growing so fast) but we’ve had him since he was four weeks old, we sneakily rescued him from a backyard breeder raising pits to fight or be bait (he was most likely to be bait since he was the runt).
    Our expenses, in the beginning, were only high due to two hospital stays in a month because he was malnourished and his kidney and liver were failing because the people were feeding him protein powder and adult dog food to “bulk” him up 🙁
    but once he got better, our expenses have been low.
    We bathe him ourselves and bring him to the vet for his nail trim ($15 only) but he is worth any dollar amount if it was needed of course.
    we also have two cats and four birds, they are even lower expenses since they stay in the house.
    lovely post, thank you!

    • Emily Lowery

      Thank you Angie!
      Your dog Leo sounds amazing. It breaks my heart that humans would treat dogs, or any animal, that way. Thankfully y’all rescued him and it sounds like he’s living the life, especially with fresh fruit and veggies!
      Having dogs outgrow collars and harnesses is definitely something I didn’t think about, probably because our dog is small and she’s done growing. That can definitely be a source of expenses!
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your pets with us!

  • Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE

    Adorable pics! We just came back from a visit to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and it’s very dog friendly. Lots of dogs jogging on the beach. I saw a dog running in exact rhythm with someone else, and I thought 100% they were together, but it turned out the dog just took to that runner. The runner actually had to circle back and drop off the dog to his real owner b/c the dog would have continued following him down the mile-long beach. So adorable — they ran in exactly the same stride, like twins.

    • Emily Lowery

      Thank you Caroline! That’s so crazy that the dog took to the runner like that. I haven’t actually been to a dog friendly beach, but it sounds like I need to go to the beach in Tamarindo!

  • Savvy History

    Thank you for sharing about your cute pup and including some pics along with money insights about raising her. Wow regarding the health! What a cutie full of energy for 18 years old! Our lab turns 13 this March. Getting him was one of the first things we did as a couple (we are insane, we know). Thinking about how we will handle end of life care has been on my mind lately. I can’t even handle it. I know he’s had a blessed life and doesn’t act a day over 5, but I’ve heard labs can go downhill fast.
    Kiss your dog tonight while brushing its teeth for me, ok?

    • Emily Lowery

      Thank you! Labs are beautiful dogs.
      For longest time, I wanted a puppy, but Cookie has been the best gift ever. She was about 14 when we got married and she came to live with us. End of life care has been on our mind lately too. It’s one of those inevitable things that’s so ridiculously hard to think about.
      Thank you sharing a little bit about your lab! He sounds wonderful!
      I will definitely give her a kiss tonight!

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