The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 21, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: The cost of going birdy

By Don Steese
The Daily Item

---- — I was really happy the other day when I heard some economist on T.V. saying that inflation wasn’t a problem — then my wife and I went to the grocery store. My wife had about a pound of coupons and we still left $150 at the checkout counter. I then put a bag under each arm and stomped out of the store. Apparently economists hire someone else to do their grocery shopping for them. Anyhow, the grocery store episode got me thinking about how much the other necessities in my life actually cost. Necessities like owning a couple bird dogs. As they say down at the CPA’s office, “Let the accounting begin!”

Initial cost of dogs in question: $500 to $5,000, depending on breed, bloodline, age, level of training, how good a salesman the breeder is, how gullible you are, and how cute the dog in question is.

Dog Food: Two bags a month, at $30 to $40 a bag is $700 to $1000 per year. (If you’re paying more than $40.00 a bag you’re too dumb to read this column, and should probably pick up a copy of the National Enquirer so that you can catch up on what’s happening with the Kardashians.)

Vet services: $150 per year, unless the dog actually gets sick, runs into a porcupine, tangles with a barbed wire fence or eats one of your wife’s bras. If so add $250 to $1,000 for each such incident.

Dog crates, kennels, food bowls, combs, brushes and assorted accessories: $500.

Training aids (such as electronic collars, retrieving dummies, check cords, etc.): $1,000.

Professional training (when you discover the training aids didn’t work): $2,000.

Furniture repair and re-upholstering: $1,000 per year.

Carpet cleaning: $500 to $1,000 per year. If cost is much more than $1,000 per year, I’d consider shooting the dog.

Chewed shoe replacement: $550 per year. This is subject to change if I can get my dogs to prefer the U.S. Keds I buy at the Salvation Army store to the imported Italian fashion boots and alligator pumps my wife prefers. Still working on that.

Fifty two dinners out at fancy-schmancy restaurants, with tax and tip: $4,000.

Ten-day Caribbean cruise with airfare: $4,700.

Two-month winter vacation to Mexico including condo rental, airfare, food, beverages and entertainment: $8,000.

Dog boarding during the above vacation trips: $800.

Marriage counseling — 52 sessions: $5,200.

(A side note here ... the above five items may not seem directly dog-related, but they are if one is married to a non dog-lover and desires to remain so attached.)

I’ve listed costs related to bird dogs because they’re the only kind I’ve ever owned. I realize people own other kinds of dogs, although I’ve never really been able to figure out why, however the costs of ownership should be roughly comparable. Hollywood starlets owning snippy little ankle-biting, yipping machines should add several hundred thousand for diamond studded collars, cashmere doggie sweaters and designer doggie treats. Hollywood starlets don’t often read this column though. Too many big words.

Next week we’ll get into boats and fishing equipment. It may take a while to work up the courage to attack the firearms budget. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Email comments to jdsteese@yahoo.com