When I'm meeting someone new, this is a pretty common reaction. Sometimes I follow up with "yeah, we're pretty small, some of our friends have ten to twenty huskies..." It's pretty funny, because its true.
But when I'm honest, four is a lot of husky. Sometimes I can't step across a room because there are so many bodies on the floor. Their breakfast dictates part of my morning routine. Discussions about J and I popping out for dinner always include balancing how long we'll be gone with bladder capacities in crates vs wet weather in the outside pen. And, when the vet bills roll in, they are tremendously expensive!
One consideration for so many dogs is the appropriate registration. In our local council area, you can have three dogs on a property under basic registrations. We had to pay for and apply for a special permit. This details things like proper accommodation, including fencing and kennelling, kept to a particular standard. Setting up our pen in the backyard, with its dig proof floor, plumbed in water bowl and half roof, was one of the biggest challenges to moving in, but worth it. Not only do we now comply with our registration requirements, but we know the dogs are secure and comfortable while we're off the property.
Our registration also requires us to store dog food in vermin proof containers. Dog food jostles with vet bills for our number one expense. Not only does it need to be stored properly, it needs to be good quality to keep coats, muscles and digestive systems in good order. High quality kibble ensures clean teeth, breath and minimises farts. (Sorry, fact of life!) So, we keep our eyes peeled for discounts on the top quality kibble, buy in bulk with friends and split the order between us, seek out sellers with minimal mark up, such as boarding kennels.
Apart from food and vet bills, our dogs don't need much. We have a collection of top quality beds that have lasted a long time. Ishka still plays with her original Tassie Devil teddy and Czar has a small collection of balls and squeaky toys, but mostly they don't need a lot of other consumables. Even their grooming is pretty cheap - $10-15 each at the local do-it-yourself hydrobath and some at home brushing, blowing and toe trimming, rather than an expensive groomer.
Sometimes, the vet bills are unavoidable. If Ishka needs another ACL surgery, well... its not like we can leave her hopping around on three legs in pain. But when it comes to vaccinations, its worth shopping around. Our local vet quoted us four consultation fees, with a 10% discount on the last three, plus a vaccination cost for each. That worked out to nearly $400, even with the discount. Another vet kindly offered us a family and friends 20% discount, but it still came to over $300.
Back in the western suburbs, J knew a vet who serviced a lot of the grey hound racing community for their vaccination needs. Rather than charge consultation fees, he would offer vaccinations track-side. We shopped round and found that the same service was offered by him out on the eastern side of the city, as well as by another in the north east. So we made a time on the list. Dogs were each checked over, hearts, ears, quick rub downs, and vaccinated. Less than $100, less than twenty minutes. Vaccination card updated.
Special thanks to vets like this one, who are prepared to forgo revenue to help keep our dogs safe.