The pandemic ushered in a new way of living and working, which involved a lot of time at home. This made people reconsider the option of getting a pet, and puppies quickly became popular furry additions to many families. But, as cute and cuddly as they are, they are also a lot (and I mean a lot) of work.

“Dogs are a wonderful addition to the family and can bring comfort and companionship,” said Enid Stiles, owner and veterinarian at the Sherwood Park Animal Hospital. “They help teach our children to be respectful of other living beings as well as teach the importance of responsibly caring for another. In times such as these, pets have never been so loved and needed.”

Before getting a furry sidekick, it’s important to take into consideration a number of factors. First, getting a puppy involves half commitment and half preparation.

“This is now part of your family, and with that comes a lot of time, energy, and financial commitment,” Stiles said. “We can never predict what we will get, just like children. They may have behavioural or medical problems. It may not all be roses. You want to ensure your entire family is committed to bringing this living being into your home.”

Stiles also said that before you get your puppy, do research on where they come from. “There are many people taking advantage of the high demand for puppies, and they are being sold for elevated amounts and coming from poor conditions,” she warned. And, if you have children, “They should learn to respect animals. It is our job as parents to demonstrate this.”

Another thing to consider is pet medical insurance. “The cost of medical care for your pet can be hard to swallow, especially in Canada where we’re not used to paying for healthcare,” Stiles pointed out.

She said average pet insurance is about $1,000-1,500 a year for preventive care, such as vaccines and parasite prevention, and should a dog end up having a serious condition, like a broken leg, it could cost as much as $5,000-10,000 if surgery is required. “Medical insurance can help with exactly these situations. No one wants to be forced to make a decision based on lack of finances to save their pet, which is a hard and difficult reality.”

Unfortunately, Stuart Becker knows this all too well. The DDO resident got a miniature schnauzer puppy named Archie last October, and a few weeks later he broke his leg. Luckily, Becker already had pet insurance. “He broke both bones in his leg and his paw, and after surgery with a specialist, rods, and screws, the total was almost $6,000,” he explained.

Despite the hefty bill, Becker paid a minimal deductible and everything else was covered. Even though he and his wife and their two children, aged 7 and 4, were devastated by the accident, they have no regrets about getting their puppy. “Had I not had insurance there may be regret… $6,000 is a lot of money. But I love him to death. We all do. And I can’t imagine life without him. I’ve always been a dog person and have wanted one since I was kid. But now I had the opportunity to work from home and have a companion here with me, and it just was a no-brainer. I didn’t care how much work it was going to be – I was sold.”

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