There are 3 things one should care to avoid in Nairobi, for the sake of prosperity. Getting a baby just because the timeline is trickling, buying land in a place where only acacia trees grow on black cotton soil, and lastly, keeping a pedigree dog just because having a large mastiff is the in thing.
Kenya is largely a country dominated by trends, we hop from one fad to the other, not because of need or having an understanding but largely because everyone else is doing it and we don’t want to be left out.
This is why we end up having a baby we are not ready for, getting a mortgage that we pay for with our lives, sometimes throwing money to acquire a piece of land without having engaged in due diligence, and more often than not, we throw it down hard all while we are wallowing in debt. We are a nation made of appearances, run by appearances, and for the show of appearances, an aesthetic nation.
Like for example dog ownership is on the rise in cities and large towns. It is common to see a Maltese Terrier in Gachie as it is to find a Belgian Malinois in Kakamega town and its outskirts. The rural areas are no longer the fiefdom of the Boscos. Large pedigree dogs are taking over with kennels mushrooming everywhere in small towns, all in the spirit of entrepreneurship and making a quick honest living. No one is to blame, dogs are hotcakes in the current market, and everyone is on the money train that sells and acquires them.
With most people getting themselves a pet, would I an owner of two large furry German Shepherds recommend it?
No, I wouldn’t.
Dogs are quite expensive to feed and this is mildly putting it.
A Boerboel owner running a kennel approximates that he spends Ksh15,000 every month on food for each dog in his kennel. He has 5. Dog food is expensive because most of it is imported which loosely translates to high taxation leading to high purchase prices.
A pedigree dog is not for a person living from hand to mouth, they will eat you up. They are luxury dogs to keep only when you have money in excess to spend because their food budget is equivalent to that of a small army of trained mercenaries. Their maintenance cost is the standard middle-income rent and this is merely looking at the cost-effective side of it. When you are trying to feed yourself and your own family, getting a large dog is plain irresponsible.
Bar the feeding expenses, throw in grooming costs, and add to that training costs, especially for the large breed dogs. A standard training session goes for Ksh4000 an hour and they will need to have as much training as possible for obedience, potty use, and how to handle aggression just in a nutshell.
Dog owners who thought they could thrift their way through training have found themselves dealing with major compensatory costs. Large untrained dogs make expensive mistakes that are sometimes fatal. These mistakes are cured by training which is a daily thing for a couple of months. Does it look like something that fits your budget?
I almost forgot to mention treatment costs and if you want to go for the extra, we have pet photography that costs an arm and a leg. Every ounce of luxury involving a pet dog will cost you an extra paw. For treatment, aside from the regular anti-rabies jabs, there are other follow-up treatments depending on the disposition of the dog. Dog injections are the equivalent of the regular servicing of a car, you take shortcuts, you pay big in the long term, simple. In addition, one is encouraged to neuter the males and surgically sterilize the females, a procedure that will not cost you any less than Ksh9000 for the latter.
Coupled with all these factors, the breeding business in Kenya is unregulated which means that most of the dogs being sold in the market are not appraised and are unregistered. When that happens you tend to have a population of pets that have a lot of underlying defects because of the lack of standards and buying a pet whose history you do not understand is like buying a second hand car without having your mechanic assess it, sooner or later, it is a decision you will regret.
You do not deserve to keep a pet if you cannot dedicate your time and effort to give it the best life. A lot of pet owners are getting their animals taken from them because of complaints of mistreatment or neglect or just being a nuisance to their neighbors.
Large pets were not meant to be kept on balconies for long periods of time or in confined spaces without exercising them to burn out the extra energy. A Belgian Malinois shepherd in a flat in Utawala has the desired effect of a lit cigarette in a petrol station, there is only one resultant outcome.
Pedigree pets are not for hustlers with no time and resources to spare. However fancy it looks like to own a Cane Corso or a Pitbull or any other large breed, it is ultimately a miscalculation when you are still living under a budget. This is a trend you can afford to pass you by.
I know it looks good walking around town tugging a grimacing Boerboel, it flexes your ego, but in the long run, your pockets will cuss every inch of you for such an ill-timed decision. If there is an itch to own a pet, start small, understand the thrifts of the practice, and scale up slowly depending on need and financial capability.
It is foolhardy to gamble your financial future on a bleeding mutt, trust me.