Part 3: Using Tech to Save Money on Pets

No Pets? No Problem

This is the third in a series on saving money by turning technology to your advantage.

In Part 1, I talked about getting the cable companies’ hands out of your pockets.

In Part 2, that old shibboleth that a family without a car is marooned got kicked to the curb.

And in this section, I’ll discuss how to use the Internet to stick-handle that age-old kid question of whether we can please please please pleeeeeeeeeeease get a puppy.

Pets are another very big expense in many families — there’s licensing, food, pet-sitting, spaying and neutering, annual shots and checkups, incidental fees for when Rover or Fluffy loses a fight with Pepe le Pew… the list goes on and on and on. And in families without pets, including ours, so do the tearful pleas…

Image via the blog.

Image via the blog.

Or at least they did, until Daddy did a bit of Googling…

Technology and pets aren’t two words you normally see in the same sentence (well, unless you’re now browsing Pluto TV’s 24/7 cats channel, which I talked about in Part 1!) but technology has actually helped our family get that all-important pet experience without actually owning a pet (again, the “access over ownership” philosophy! See what I did there?). Our condo building doesn’t allow dogs, but like most kids, mine were clamouring to have one.

And to my astonishment, after just a bit of research I found an amazing service called Part Time Pooch, which is kind of a “match-making” service for people who don’t have dogs, or don’t want the full-time responsibility of owning one, but still want some access to the awesome experience of dog companionship.

A boy and his hound: Oliver with Friday, the Basset, the dog we found from Part Time Pooch.

So last week the kids and I were matched up with this amazing Bassett hound called Friday, and I think it’s safe to say we’re in love. We picked him up from his owner and we all hung out in the park all day. Bassett hounds aren’t super-athletic, but they’ve got staying power, so Friday easily kept up with my brood. And the next day, when the kids were at school, I picked him up again and he and I had some “man time” just snoozing on the couch together, hanging at the dog park a bit… He’s just a great old buddy.

Another place I take the kids fairly frequently, and which I’ve written about before, is The Reptile Guy, out in Mission. This is one of those field trips where we need to book a car, but it’s totally worth it. The kids get exposure to incredible animals and are able to hold them and learn about them firsthand. 

A couple of our boys playing with a snake at the Reptile Guy's place.

A couple of our boys playing with a snake at the Reptile Guy’s place.

Again, the kids were eager to own a snake or a turtle or a gecko, but as parents, we all know how kids are with pets: the honeymoon period is over in about a week, and you, the parent, wind up taking care of it.

So services like Part Time Pooch and hands-on places like The Reptile Guy are fantastic ways to let your kids have all the exposure they want without the headaches and heartbreaks of ownership.

I’ll write more in future about other ways that technology can save you and your family a bucket of money, but right now I need to go jump into my little Modo, pick up a certain hound, and figure out what he and I are going to watch on today. 🙂

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Adrian Crook is a father of five living in beautiful downtown Vancouver, Canada. He's an advocate for rental housing and public transit.