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How we budget for our rescue dog

Welcome to my budgeting world!

Have you ever rescued a furry friend?

Were you sensible and pre-planned your budget, deciding in advance how much you could afford to spend on said fluff ball for his or her upkeep or did you just fall in love & to hell with the money?

Yep, the second one for me too.

He needed a home, a loving caring home that we could give him.

As the saying goes, "You buy with your emotions & justify with reasoning" or something like that.

A mixed breed dog lovingly playing with his new teddy
Apollo and his first toy

Rescue Costs

Getting Apollo from Greece to the UK cost us around £800 including his required Veterinary treatments & EU Passport & travel. He had originally turned up at my cousins house, she has lived in Zakynthos for years, looking bedraggled, hungry & sad.

She couldn't keep him much to her son's dismay, as she already had two others to feed.

There are a lot of street dogs on the island, although significantly less now that Sue has started her incredible rescue charity Healing Paws - you can join her facebook group here:

This was my cousin's Facebook post, asking if any of her lovely friends either knew who he belonged to or potentially wanted to foster this beautiful boy.

I blame her.

Scruffy street dog
Apollo 1 years old in Zakynthos

We'll never know what happened in his first year of life. But he is a soppy boy, wanting cuddles all the time & lots of reassurance. He has always been brilliant on the lead, never pulls, and was perfectly house trained.

But he also has an unnamed condition or behavioural issue that makes him aggressively spin, chasing & biting his tail. He does this to less or more of a degree every day.

Many vet & behavioural therapy sessions later we can only surmise that it is a mixture of trauma, possibly some physical pain that we can't define & a learned behaviour.

He has never & I believe would never, hurt us or anyone else. He is just seemingly furious with his tail & legs. The noise is horrendous, it's like he's having the worst dog fight, which is deafening, terrifying & exhausting at 2am.

The vets have said it could even be a neurological issue from birth which is why he was abandoned in the first place.

Rescue dogs (and other animals) all invariably have some level of trauma the nurse told me during another visit. They're never quite the same as they should be. Particularly those that have travelled from European countries like Greece, Romania or those rescued from the meat trade in China. She sees it daily.

We will never know what he experienced but we love, nurture & help him to find joy. He never even knew what a ball was for so our neighbours dog taught him to chase one for fun. Play was alien to him.

He does love to gently play with his teddy, as part of his routine. After breakfast and after dinner he loves it when I run round the kitchen with Teddy, then the sofa and back round the kitchen. He chases me & we play tug of war, he runs off & I chase him & he snorts with glee every time.

It's wonderful to watch him get the occasional zoomies, I can imagine he's laughing as he splays out his front legs running round the garden like a loon, tongue lolling, mouth wide like a grin.

Ongoing Medical Costs

Apollo has had lots of treatments.

From having to have his tail amputated as he'd bitten it so much causing an infection, to ongoing anxiety & calming meds, a few other times he's needed antibiotics for biting his legs until they bled and now monthly injections for arthritis in his hips.

He has worn a Bite Not collar since the last episode a couple of months ago so that he can't really get to his dreadfully scarred legs. It comes off from time to time & I'd much rather it was off all together but we'll take each day. Trying to stop him mid spin whilst he's gnashing away & squealing each time he catches himself is no easy task.

We didn't get insurance.

Don't ask me why.

Although I'm not knowledgeable enough about insurances to know whether all or any of these treatments would be covered, it would have been a good idea to have learned more!

Now, we've tried lots of things we know that his behaviour is partly a reaction to loud noises like fireworks, he's scared of gun fire that we hear in the countryside & not a fan of other dogs, particularly little or young ones that are over enthusiastic.

He gets frustrated & cross if he needs to poop, is hungry or doesn't want to do something like get off the sofa or go in a particular direction on a walk. He's like a stroppy child!

He also needs his routine, when it's disrupted we know about it.

Food; giving him "dog food" apart from the grain free expensive delicate tummy kibble from the vets, is like giving a child Skittles!

So, now I batch cook fresh chicken & turkey. I also make soupy broth from a Sunday roast chicken in the slow cooker with root veg to use as no salt healthy gravy for him. Yep, he has a more wholesome diet than we do! Limited treats & the occasional boiled egg for lunch makes him a happy boy & what a difference it makes to his behaviour.

The other issues are possibly pain related & without a very expensive series of tests, the vets have concluded it could be his hips as he has a tightness with his back legs. That and he possibly lived in a confined space so only ever turned in a circle so it's become a stress habit.

I don't want to put you off. Truly.

But as a first dog I wouldn't recommend it.

There will be levels of trauma that you will have to navigate & potential extra vets or specialist bills.

When making a decision to introduce a pup into your family life, it is so important to factor in the costs that you might be aware of as well as those you're not expecting.

According to PDSA a third of pet owners they speak to are concerned with the increase in costs and that having a pet was more expensive than they expected.

If you're struggling to care for your furry family member please please do get help with an animal charity or rehome them responsibly.

It breaks my heart to know that there are so many beautiful dogs, cats & more just being dumped or left. There's no need for that.

I understand the feeling of shame & of guilt that a person can't afford to look after them any more, but this isn't Victorian England surely we have some emotional investment & understanding of how gorgeously funny these creatures are & how much they depend on us?

So, how do we budget for our rescue dog?

By looking back at how much Apollo has cost these past 5 years

I've not kept track to the penny but it is ball park £3k+ £60 a month to feed. Going forward I can plan as best as possible what this could look like.

Take his expensive kibble for a start, that's £80 every 3 months - stings on the cashflow so I factor it in to those months as well as the liklihood of another vet trip.

Oh and a new Dyson.

Doesn't moult, my arse!

What's your experience of doggie care? Pop them in the comments below & let's share the love & support

Love from

Lucy x

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