DEBT

Couple forces new puppy into modelling career to recoup crippling pet expenses

The story of what happened when one family were unprepared for the financial impact that a new pet would have on their bank accounts.

TORONTO–When Craig and Annie Fairfield brought home their new 10-week-old corgi puppy this past summer they thought they were prepared for the financial impact of adding a furry friend to their family.

"We knew that we would of course have to cover the basic costs of food and veterinary care," Annie recounted stoically. "But we weren't prepared for all of the other expenses that come along with dog ownership." She explained that they were soon paying hundreds for training, socialization and doggie daycare coverage.

In addition to the sky-high tuition at the prestigious "Pawsitively Exclusive Doggie Daycare and Country Club" – which required the Fairfields to pass a formal interview and assessment in order to gain acceptance – they were also forced to purchase special toys for the puppy to eat out of as well as gifts for their upstairs neighbours to apologize for all the early morning barking.

The couple even hired a trainer specializing in puppies to come to their home once a week for private instruction, in addition to puppy college at Petsmart. 

"The trainer, who we were told is the best in the business, really emphasized desensitizing the puppy, so we spent a lot of time banging pots and pans and opening and closing large umbrellas near our dog's face for $300 per session," Annie explains. She adds that not only is the puppy still terrified of frying pans, it was these sessions that pushed the couple to their breaking point. 

We figured we could exploit his oddly symmetrical facial features and shiny coat for a few extra dollars.- Annie Fairfield, dog owner

"I realized it would have been cheaper and more practical for me to have gone to veterinary school if I wanted to spend time with dogs so much," Craig says.

"We needed to figure out a way to start supplementing our income if we were going to be able to afford this dog." 

After learning that a friend had gotten his puppy into a commercial and was compensated quite well, the Fairfields decided to give it a try.

"We knew Otto (short for Ottoman) wouldn't make a very good circus dog or herding animal, and he doesn't have the temperament to be a service dog, but we figured we could exploit his oddly symmetrical facial features and shiny coat for a few extra dollars," Annie explains.

"Plus, a lot of the dogs you see in commercials and print work right now are boring and haggard. We knew Ottoman could bring something fresh to the table." 

After just three short months, Otto has landed two advertising campaigns for Purina and will be making a cameo as a flight attendant in the upcoming 38th Air Bud sequel, Air Bud Becomes a Pilot.

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