When I first adopted Sybbie, my labradoodle, in April, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, I grew up with dogs and loved them all dearly, but I really felt this terrifying, drop-of-my-stomach feeling of self-doubt. All of a sudden, I was responsible for another life. I needed help—there were so many products and toys and food choices and treat options and, well, I could go on.
As a single woman nearing 30, I’ve played the role of the single girl at the bridal shower, baby shower, engagement party, bachelorette party, first birthday party, you name it. On top of that, I’ve spent upwards of $5,000 on all the travels and gifts that go along with playing this role. I love every friend I’ve spent these dollars on, so to me, it’s worth it. But without my own wedding or child for friends to spend their money on for me, I decided maybe Sybbie would be my chance.
I didn’t realize at the time of Sybbie’s adoption that I’d be joining a group of dog-owning women who call themselves “dog moms,” but soon enough I learned I was now part-time editor, full-time dog mom. And it was these fellow dog moms who told me it would be acceptable to make a registry for my dog. “Dogs are expensive and you don’t have a kid,” one friend said. “You do you girl,” another told me.
Caitlin Ultimo, resident pet expert at Chewy, an online site for pets, says that pet registries are relatively new but growing in popularity.
“You need a lot to get going when you adopt a pet so it’s a great way to introduce them as a real member of the family,” she says. What else is growing in popularity? Pet showers, which feature dog-friendly decor (no balloons that could choke the pups!) and even potty pad or poop bag cakes, the same way baby showers feature diaper cakes.
Try these dog-inspired yoga moves:
So I took the plunge into the dog registry, theming the site on Squarespace with a nod to Sex and the City by calling it Sex and the Sybbie. Like with a wedding or baby registry, I added to my list a variety of items, large and small, that I’d need as a new pet parent, ranging from toys to different kinds of food, accessories and more. I then shared the registry on social media with my friends and family to see who bit.
I decided not to go for the party Ultimo referenced thanks to my small New York City apartment, but little did I know I’d definitely have been able to hold the number of people who sent things off the registry in my apartment. Only five people (six, if you include my parents) sent goodies to Sybbie and me via Amazon wishlists. Two of them were fellow dog moms and one was a good friend who decided to send all of the toys on Sybbie’s wish list to her, which Sybbie (and I!) very much appreciated.
But the things I really needed—like the American Express gift cards to help pay her vet bills, or the various flavors of food to find her favorite, or the camera to keep an eye on her while I was at work—were things I ultimately had to pay for myself. And I decided that’s okay.
With Americans spending more than $60 billion on their dogs every year, according to the American Pet Products Association, it’s clear that a pet is an investment. But it’s not an investment you have to make, it’s a choice. Sure, it can be argued that weddings and children are also a choice, but I think they’re bigger life events than getting an animal. If anything, I learned as much during this registry experiment. So I don’t feel shafted by friends who decided not to send her (and me) things from her registry, even though some fellow dog moms thinks I should. Plus, the love and affection I get from Sybbie is worth every penny, even if it’s from my own wallet.
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