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Responsible Pet Ownership


Let me tell you a little story about our dog, Rocky.




Rocky is an incredible dog. Well-behaved, intelligent, and loyal. One of the best.

But when he was a puppy he was T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.



I distinctly remember at least 2 separate instances when I was this.close to taking him back to the pound (he was a rescue dog).

He got into everything! He had an insane amount of energy and regardless of how many walks, trips to the dog park, and hours spent playing fetch, he could never get it all out. He’d come inside and just destroy everything!


As a puppy he did all of the following things: (1) ate a hole through a wood door large enough to walk through, (2) ate an entire leather cushion from a couch, (3) ate through chicken wire, (3) ate a friend’s hat, sunglasses, and shoes as the friend was sleeping on our couch.

This just scratches the surface. He was destructive. And he ate everything.

So one day we’re at home and Rocky starts freaking out. He starts running in circles around our living room at lightening-speed. Then he stops, starts staggering side-to-side like he’s drunk and about to fall down, then he goes right back to running (repeating the run-stagger cycle over and over).

Hubs (boyfriend at the time – this was 10 years ago) and I watched in shock of what was going on. Even for our high-energy Rocky boy, this was crazy behavior. Something was wrong.

At one of the staggering intervals, husband grabbed Rocky and scooped him up in his arms. We ran to the car and drove as fast as we could to the vet clinic just up the road. This was not our usual vet, but we had just moved and this was the closest vet to our new place. We knew we needed help fast.

Once there the vet got to work right away. She pumped his stomach, but didn’t find anything too unusual (I say “too unusual” because she did find some t-shirt material and padding from our patio furniture – true story – but those items would not have caused his behavior). The vet, obviously an animal lover, was not kind to us. She basically accused us of having drugs lying around that he surely must have ingested. Absolutely not! We were not drug-doing type of people!

An overnight stay and several hundred dollars later, we were able to bring Rocky home. Never figured out what was wrong, but he ended up being okay.

Fast forward 2 weeks. We realized what Rocky must have gotten into.

I was in college at the time and it was finals week. I’d been having a lot of anxiety and my relative-to-remain-nameless (since I’m describing a felony and all) gave me a couple of Xanax pills. Obviously not prescribed to me. But my relative thought it would help me relax enough to do well on my exams (I had bad test anxiety at the time). I never did end up taking the pills. They were wadded up in a paper napkin and had been thrown on a kitchen counter. Eventually I forgot about them all together. Then the napkin disappeared (aka: Rocky got ahold of it), and I never even thought twice about it. It is not a usual thing for us to have drugs (prescription or illegal) lying around so it never even crossed my mind.

Apparently the vet was right. *cringe*

I tell this story to say that, since this time, being a responsible pet owner has been of the utmost importance to me. I’d thought we were responsible pet owners at that time, too, but obviously we hadn’t shielded our eat-everything puppy from the dangers of some prescription pills that were lying casually on the kitchen counter.

And above the ramifications for the pets, themselves, responsible pet ownership pays off financially. Being responsible in this situation (i.e., putting the pills away in a safe place) would have prevented the hundreds of dollars we spent on emergency vet bills that day, not to mention the stress and heartache of thinking we were losing our beloved dog.

Pets can be expensive! But if you’re going to be a pet owner, being a responsible one is important.


Have you had any scary pet crises? How much did the ordeal cost you?

Have you owned a rambunctious pet before? Our dog is THE BEST now, but those first 2 years of his life were pretty rough! ; )


  • Reply Mysti |

    He is very sweet looking! I am glad he was ok after his drug ingestion. Scary!

    We have been fortunate in our 14+ years of cat ownership, the majority of emergency vet visits were for things that were truly medical, and had nothing to do with us per se (various price range…the most expensive was about $400) However, we had 2 visits (not exactly crisis though) that were borderline on us.

    We used to travel with our cats years ago, and one cat is just not good in the car, so we would give him a prescribed sedative to take the edge off. One trip, we brought him in the house (not in a carrier, as he was freaking out and we took him out), and then brought our kids (who were under 2 I believe) in (it was late night time). We didn’t realize it until the next day he was GONE. We thought he was hiding all day because he was mad. But by evening we realized he wasn’t in the house. I was beside myself…

    We looked for him, posted pictures. He is declawed on all 4 paws (we got him that way), so I was sure he was a gonner. He was gone for 3 days, and I had just about given up hope. While I was washing the dishes, I heard a meow. Shut the water off and went to investigate, and he was under the deck! We know he wasn’t there before, because we checked about a million times.

    Brought him to the vet, and fortunately we was ok. No scratches or injury. Just very hungry and thirsty! That was the last trip where we brought the cats into the house without their carrier.

  • Reply Emily N. |

    I just have to say that your dog is adorable! I grew up with a dog and am looking forward to the time when I live somewhere that will allow me to be a responsible pet owner. Since graduating from college I’ve always lived in apartments where I wasn’t allowed to have pets or with people who were allergic. I really want our next place to allow pets, but at the same time I’m a little nervous about getting one since I’m afraid of it being problematic in finding another place to live after that. I guess that’s one of the benefits being a home owner, but I’m afraid that’s a very, very long way off.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a really great point! Everywhere I’ve ever lived has charged more because of our pet and there were many places that simply wouldn’t allow us at all (because he’s a large dog and many places won’t allow over 35 lbs.) That’s an often-ignored, but very REAL part of pet-ownership! Not only do you have to budget for vet expenses, but it can cost you more for monthly rent, too!

  • Reply Walnut |

    My husband and I brought my large breed dog along for a holiday weekend with family. We stayed at our usual hotel that was in the rough vicinity of a major international airport. We didn’t think twice, as we had stayed at this hotel numerous times. We weren’t thinking about the fact that the dog is terrified of loud noises when we left to go out to dinner that evening. The hotel isn’t directly under the airstrip or anything, but obviously dogs have extremely sensitive hearing. Clearly the pup had worked herself into a total state of panic that evening and proceeded to bloat that night after we got home. Fortunately we were well educated in the symptoms of bloat, but we were in a different city and the nearest 24 hour vet was still a solid 30 minutes away.

    As we walked up to the vet, she was in such a state of delusion that she walked right smack into the front door. We had called ahead while on the road, so the clinic was ready and took her straight to the back . A half hour later they brought her into the exam room and had a stack of papers. Miniature IV hookup tubes were taped around her leg and she gave me the most miserable look as we went in for hugs. In a blubbery, crying mess sitting on the floor of the exam room with my arms wrapped around my dog, I tossed the vet my credit card and authorized them to spend whatever it took.

    They sent us back to the hotel that night as we played the wait and see game. Sometime around 3AM they called as they had noticed the dog had a large mass on her abdomen and asked if we wanted them to cut it out while they had her open. We had known the mass was there and had been on a “wait and see” path with our vet back home, so we figured we may as well do a 2 for 1 and get rid of the mass too.

    We were able to pick her up the next day in the afternoon and while obviously torn up, she looked great. In her life before coming to our home, she had been a breed dog for likely dozens of litters of puppies in a puppy mill. The result of the surgery was that they tucked all of her extra skin back in and she looked like she had gone in for a “Mommy Makeover” cosmetic surgery!

    Another humorous outcome of the surgery was that she grew to really enjoy her pain meds. She had never been fond of pills in the past, but oh my if she wouldn’t sit so nicely to get the pain meds! The surgery ended up being more than I ever thought I would spend on a dog, but it goes to show that when you’re in the moment, the money is the last thing you’re thinking about.

    Moral of the story is if you have pets, make sure to have some money tucked away in case the worst happens.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I cannot even imagine! Especially being out of town – what a terrible experience! Could not agree more about having a little $ tucked away in case of this type of emergency! How awful!

  • Reply Judi |

    What a sweet face! And even though he was rambunctious as a puppy it looks like he was cute enough to disperse your anger.
    Also, with two dogs and two cats I know the pain of vet bills and emergencies. Our dog has had surgery to fix torn acl’s, and stitches from being attacked by an unleashed dog. I seriously never envisioned spending this much on our dogs, but when you are an owner it’s just part of the commitment. I’m so glad to hear your pup is alright and now everyone gets to enjoy his golden years. Also, is he a kelpie? I only ask because one of ours is and she also has crazy energy (seriously 10mile runs don’t even phase her)

    • Reply Ashley |

      He’s actually a rottweiler/blue heeler mix. Blue heelers were bred as cattle dogs and typically have a ton of energy (so they could run the fields all day, rounding up cattle, etc.). His personality seems to favor the heeler in him because he’s also very solitary. The animals were bred to be pretty independent and work-oriented. He really is such a great dog now and it makes me sad to think he won’t be here forever (he’s already 10, so realistically probably won’t be around for more than just another couple of years).

  • Reply Jackie |

    The only thing that has happened to our dog, Moxie is a porcupine. He’s gotten into them 3 times!! The hazards of living in the sticks lol. First 2 times we got the quills out. The 3rd time we got most of them except what we though was one in his lip. We went to the vet and they ended up taking the one out of his lip, one out of the inside of his nostril and 2 in his mouth. Yep 4 quills total. It cost us $200. Talk about a pain. Mox is a big dog at 120 pounds–he’s rotti and boxer mix. His coloring is like your Rocky but he has the block head and thick body. He’s a big baby lol.

    Luckily he didn’t tear things up well except a couple of bras that I had just bought. Needless to say I was quite PO’d since they cost $40 each. He wasn’t trained at all when we got him at 6 months old. He is almost 6 now and is a very good dog.

    • Reply Jackie |

      Forgot to add he had tons of energy. At age 2 it was like a light switch was shut off and he just changed into the best dog. All of sudden he listened well and would just go into his crate when he saw you put on your jacket. You’d just say “bed” and he’d go into his crate. He is still like that.

      • Reply Ashley |

        Ours was the same way! Those first two years are all puppy and then (just like you) it seemed to instantly change overnight as he went from rambunctious and wild into totally well mannered and well behaved. There were several obedience classes in the mix, but they were early in life so I don’t think the change can be attributed to that. It was like one day he suddenly became an adult! lol

        • Reply Jackie |

          Mox acts more like a Boxer than a Rotti. He loves all kids. He has turned into the perfect dog. Although he stills get a little excited when people come over. He is the perfect dog to have as a renter because he only barks when someone comes in the driveway and never tears things up. We didn’t take him to any classes either just worked with him in the yard or took him on a leash on a walking trail. The first time I tried to take him on a walk he literally dragged me down the road lol. We were told from the people we got him from that he knew how to walk on a leash. Of course they also told us he was a year old–found out from the vet he was only 6 months old.

  • Reply Jean |

    I have been contemplating Walnut’s suggestion recently, and thinking that I might need to start a pet savings account. I have two cats, both around 11-12, both adopted from the local Humane Society, and both with health issues. The orange fat cat has IBS and is on prescription food – about $35 every six weeks. The other cat actually eats the same food; it’s high fiber.low fat, so it doesn’t hurt him. The orange cat has been getting broncho-dilator pills since his vet visit last Saturday because he was wheezy – that vet bill set me back $218 (regular checkup plus xray for the wheezing, and pills). I THINK they’re helping because he’s not snoring; my husband has been out of town so he will be the better judge when he gets home. Not sure if this will be a permanent medication if it works.

    The other cat takes antibiotics the first 5 days of each month to keep the bacteria down in his mouth so we don’t have dental cleanings as often. His heart murmur is back so after xrays & bloodwork, it was off to the kitty cardiologist. The ultrasound showed a heart valve fluttering so now he’s on heart medication – half a pill every day. Those are people heart pills and after shopping around I paid $4 for his prescription. Have to go back for another ultrasound in 6 months to see how things are going. I’ve blocked that cost out of my mind – maybe around $400?

    These are the only kids I have – it’s a good thing! I haven’t figured out yet what my financial threshold will be (my husband reminds me “they’re just cats”) – will cross that bridge when I need to.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, you must have a big heart to adopt to older kitties with health problems (poor things!!) The whole threshold issue is an interesting one. I have a friend whose husband calls their dog a $500 dog (as in, the limit is $500). But anyone whose had to go to an emergency vet before knows how quickly bills can get that high! You might want to look into pet health insurance since you know yours could have ongoing issues. I’ve never bought it before so can’t say if its worth it or not, but you could look into what’s included and costs to figure out if you could get a deal on some of the vet expenses and/or medications you need.

      • Reply Jean |

        I’ve actually had the boys since they were babies; the health issues didn’t appear until later. I’ll have to do a FB poll with my friends who are pet owners and see if they have health insurance and why/why not.

  • Reply Sue |

    We had a border collie/shepard mix (BEST dog ever) who had an iron stomach – at an ENTIRE BOTTLE of my husband’s thyroid pills and an entire bag of Hershey kisses (including the foil on each of them) I had for my daughter’s Valentine’s party at school – the dog never threw up or even had diarrhea!!! We were SO lucky and I agree, if you are going to own pets you have to be responsible, which includes putting money aside for emergency bills!!!

  • Reply Jasmine |

    My dog is still all puppy-like at 6 years old. In the past week alone, he got into the trash and ate a whole bag of gummy worms. To be fair, he’s also adjusting to being left alone during the day again. He’s my first dog and about a week after I got him, he started walking funny. I’d read some dog books and knew about hip dysplasia. Naturally, I panicked and took him to the vet. After about a grand for the visit and x-rays, it turned out he was perfectly fine. Sometimes, those books intended to inform can be a curse…

So, what do you think ?