Personal Finance

Why I Beefed Up My Emergency Fund Before I Adopted a Dog

A family and their dog in a car on a road trip.

Image source: Getty Images

It’s a move I’m still grateful for.


Key points

  • I added about $5,000 to my emergency fund in the months leading up to my dog’s adoption.
  • In the end, that money came in very handy.

When my old dog, Casey, passed away at nearly age 13, it was one of the most heartbreaking things I’d ever experienced. And it took me some time to feel ready to adopt another dog.

In early 2020, my family decided the time was right to introduce a new dog into our personal mix. Our kids were a little older and easier to handle, and we were ready to take on the responsibility of caring for an animal.

Then the pandemic hit, and we decided to wait a few months for things to settle down before applying to adopt. We began submitting applications at various rescues at the start of the summer, only to be repeatedly ghosted and, in a few cases, rejected (understandably so in the case of younger kids not being a good fit).

The fact that it took multiple months to find the perfect pup for our family frustrated us at first. But in the end, it was sort of a blessing.

Once we decided to move forward with adopting a dog, I began funneling as much money as I could into our emergency fund. See, Casey wound up having a lot of medical issues later in life, and we repeatedly had to dip into our savings account to address them. I figured it would be wise to boost our emergency fund in case similar issues arose with our new dog.

Since adopting took longer than expected and I was working longer hours during the pandemic (a byproduct of not having as many places to go), I was able to sock away an extra $5,000 right before welcoming our new pup, Champ, into our family. And it’s a good thing I did.

An unexpected surprise

Within a few months of adopting Champ, he started having issues with joint pain. Thankfully, those can be easily managed with medication. But it took $3,000 in diagnostic tests to get to the root of the issue, and since those problems arose before we’d had a chance to get pet insurance, we had to pay for those tests out of pocket.

Thankfully, we had the extra money in our emergency fund, which meant I didn’t have to worry about where it would come from, nor did I have to stress about working extra to put that money back. Instead, I was able to focus on getting my pup healthy and pain-free. 

It’s good to be prepared

People are often surprised at how expensive it can be to have a dog. I knew from experience that the moment a medical issue arises, the cost of having a pet can skyrocket, and I wanted to be prepared in advance.

These days, I have a fair amount of money in my budget allocated to pet care. That way, if extra costs arise, I don’t have to constantly raid my savings to cover them.

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, make sure to research the costs involved before committing. Many people adopt with the best of intentions, only to realize down the line that they truly can’t afford to have a dog. You don’t need to be wealthy to take on the responsibility of owning a dog — but you should have some money in the bank in case added expenses arise. 

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