Personal Finance

‘My Dog Burned the House Down’ & Other Tales of Canine Calamity

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My dog destroyed roughly $1,300 of stuff in the first eight months he lived with me. I was surprised when I first added it up, but then I wondered how much damage dogs do over a lifetime.

Readers helped answer that question. Based on a few dozen responses posted to my Credit.com story , I wasn’t alone when it came to dogs eating carpet, pillows or any fluffy thing. Future pet owners, take note: Some dogs are all about the fluff.

Of course, many commenters cited hefty veterinary bills after their pups ingested foreign objects — I left those out of my story, but those cost us several hundred dollars so far.

Having never witnessed this myself, I’m not sure how a dog goes about eating through doors, but the commenters indicate it happens a lot, and more than one mentioned repairs cost about $700. What’s more worrisome is a supposedly common canine taste for electronics, especially remote controls.

Your Dog Ate WHAT?

While the tales of these commenters couldn’t be independently verified, they still highlight an important facet of pet-owner finances: Unexpected costs can be substantial. That goes for consumers without pets, as well, which is why a well-managed emergency fund and conservative budget are crucial. Something needs to absorb the impact of an unexpected $300 medical bill, whether it’s for a two-legged or four-legged household member, and day-to-day finances shouldn’t suffer as a result.

One reader, a photographer, listed a slew of everyday items her 9-month golden retriever had destroyed, but nothing was as pricey as a broken camera lens:

“I had it sitting in a cloth sleeve to keep dust off of it, but not necessarily protect it from falls. I left my room for just a couple minutes… come back to find the lens on the ground and the cloth bag tore to pieces! Lens = $400”

Many mentioned their dogs’ affinity for paper, but one paper-chewing story stood out: A 2-year-old chocolate lab ate a student’s law school promissory note worth $184,000, according to the writer.

“When pieced together, signed and hand delivered it brought bundles of laughs at the Law School’s admissions office.”

The range of dog-chewed electronics was impressive, but there were two items that struck me most. One was an external hard drive holding business information that couldn’t be recovered, and the other was a set of hearing aids. Two commenters reported such incidents:

“Our Maltese chewed Grandmas hearing aids. … Hopped right onto her bed and had a snack. Bad news: not covered by insurance. Good news: grandma couldn’t hear with them anyway.”

Another reader said her husband rescued a 1-year-old lab, which proceeded to eat his $4,000 hearing aids.

The most shocking story had nothing to do with chewing:

“My dogs decided to wrestle near the fireplace, shoved a blanket in and caught my house on fire! After almost $500,000.00, 9 months and a very unhappy insurance company we are back home. The wrestling dogs survived as did the humans.”

Readers overwhelmingly said the companionship was well worth the damage, but no one gets a dog hoping it will destroy thousands of dollars’ worth of property. You have been warned, future pet owners. Save up.

Image: iStock

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