The Saga of Mika the Shiba Inu

mika in the forest

This little furball somehow wormed her way into our life!

After six weeks of indecision and flip-flopping… we’ve made our decision. Yes, we’re keeping Mika!

The Ongoing Saga of Mika

In case you haven’t been following along, check out my update posts for the full story on Mika (or read the summary that follows):

Mika—a brief summary

Mika is an adorable 2-year-old Shiba Inu who belonged to M’s cousin. We’ve dogsat her many times, and have always loved looking after her.

The sad news

Back in July, M’s cousin called us to break some sad news: he could no longer keep Mika. He’d called us to ask if we’d consider adopting her. If we took her in, it’d mean he and his family could still see her and be a part of her life. 

This was of so much value to M’s cousin that he offered to pay for all her expenses for the rest of her life. It was about as ideal of a dog adoption scenario as anyone could hope for! 

How often do you come across such a perfect dog, that’s still young and has no issues—all at no cost? It was an obvious decision… or so I thought.

M’s hesitations

M had never been responsible for a dog before. He worried that we were caught up in the excitement and not fully aware of the reality of owning a dog. 

He wondered: How will we feel when the weather turns cold and wet? Will we be able to deal with the accidents and troubles that a dog can bring?

M was right—this wasn’t a decision we could just jump into. We decided to take Mika in, but with a caveat: it would just be for a two-month trial. At the end of the trial, we’d think it over again and make our decision.

An unexpected complication

Over the next few weeks, things went really well with Mika. We were loving having our own dog, and felt ready to tell M’s cousin that we wanted to keep her (even before we’d reached the two-month mark)! 

But unexpectedly (for M’s cousin and us) some complications came up and he could no longer pay for Mika’s expenses. He felt terrible, but we completely understood and were not at all upset with him.

However, it left us with the possibility of being 100% responsible for Mika. This huge change made us pause and seriously reconsider the whole situation. 

Thinking things over

There was suddenly a lot to think about: Who would watch Mika when we travelled? What if there was a huge vet bill? 

Keeping Mika wouldn’t be cheap, and it’d mean a longer working career for M. Was he okay with that? Only M could make that decision. We all did a lot of soul-searching over the next two weeks.

Mika the Shiba Inu waiting
C'mon you guys! Just make a decision already!

The latest update

When we first took Mika in, M’s uncle and aunt (aka his cousin’s parents) offered to dogsit her anytime we went away. At the time, this made complete sense. They love Mika. She’s a big part of their lives. By dogsitting for us, they’d still get to see her regularly.

But when M’s cousin said he could no longer pay for Mika, we became worried. Were M’s uncle and aunt truly willing to commit to sharing Mika with us for a decade or more? 

They’re in the ‘go-go years’ of their retirement and lead busy, full lives. Could they realistically dogsit Mika as often as we needed?

A face-to-face meeting

We had a lot of questions, and our conversations over WhatsApp and email just weren’t cutting it. We decided that a face-to-face meeting was in order—and it turned out to be just what we needed. 

As soon as we started talking, we knew without a doubt: M’s uncle and aunt’s commitment to Mika hadn’t wavered. Their offer to dogsit her still stood. And if there were scheduling conflicts, they would work it out. 

Being able to count on them for dogsitting already took away our biggest concern. But then they made another incredible offer: they wanted to share the cost of Mika’s care with us.

A solid commitment

Words can’t express how touched we are by M’s uncle and aunt’s generosity. But it’s not about the money—it’s what it symbolizes. 

It reassures us that they’re serious about keeping Mika, and that they consider her to be just as much their responsibility as we do. 

It’s immensely comforting to know that we’ll all care for Mika as a team. None of us will leave the other high and dry—whether it comes to her care or her expenses. 

As with children, it takes a village to raise a dog! And now we’ve got our village to count on.

She’s ours!

With M’s uncle and aunt’s support, we got the peace of mind that we needed. We were finally 100% confident in our decision to keep Mika. So, at long last, she’s officially ours!

mika cuddles
Oh good—I can finally take a nap now!

How we came to this decision

This post only briefly touched on how we decided to keep Mika. But there was a lot more that went into this decision behind-the-scenes.

For those who are considering dog adoption (or wondering why we’ve made yet another terrible FI choice) I’ve written a follow-up post: Why We Adopted a Dog (Even Though It’s a Terrible FI Choice).

In the post, I list the downsides, benefits, and finances of dog ownership. Then at the end, I lay out our long-term plan to care for Mika and manage her expenses.

I hope it’ll help others to turn an emotional decision into a sensible, rational one.

Thanks for your feedback

Throughout this long saga, many of you left comments and sent me your thoughts over social media. It was helpful for me to get so many of your honest opinions on dog ownership. 

Additionally, it was reassuring to converse with other smart, dog-owning personal finance bloggers:

These bloggers helped me to realize (once again) that life isn’t just about the numbers. Often, it’s the mushy, intangible things that matter most. ❤️

And that concludes the long Saga of Mika! I’ll leave you with our favourite baby photo of her. So cute!!! (Sorry it’s blurry.)

baby mika with pinecone

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  • Reply
    Chris @ Mindful Explorer
    October 7, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Owning a demanding breed like a Shiba is very deep and dedicated consideration as a true ancient feral breed they have engrained instincts and habits. Mika will challenge you but also love you greatly. All the best on your new journey and thanks for the shoutout as well.

    • Reply
      October 7, 2019 at 11:41 pm

      Shibas are an interesting, challenging breed for sure. (And I know you speak of them from personal experience!)

      We’re incredibly fortunate that Mika’s previous owner was aware of her inborn tendencies (to be stubborn and dominant). He did a lot of excellent training with her… so we’ve been left with an easy, dream dog.

      I’ve seen the results of less-than-effective training in other Shibas, so we’re very grateful that Mika’s coming to us as well-behaved as she is!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Aw, thanks for the mention! I’m so glad Mika has her forever home. I had no doubt you’d keep her 😉 It’s so hard to not get attached to these wonderful four-legged furry guys. My MIL takes care of my little guy and it works out great when we travel. He loves going to her house so it’s not a hardship for him, which relieves the guilt for me. And Mika has her own village to watch over her so she couldn’t be any luckier.

    • Reply
      October 7, 2019 at 11:45 pm

      Ha ha, only dog lovers know the trance these furballs put us under! Mika was ours from the start, whether we wanted to believe it or not. 🙂

      It’s so nice that your pup can go to ‘Grandma’s’ house. It really does make it easier to go away knowing they’ll be loved and spoiled rotten!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    That is so cool of your husband’s uncle and auntie to watch Mika whenever you guys are away for vacation. You don’t have to worry about who will watch Mika. It’s great to have a supportive family, I know the feeling. All the best being dog owners now, pretty sure your fam will create lasting memories with Mika.

    • Reply
      October 10, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      You’re always so kind and positive Kris. 🙂 We are very lucky to have such a large, supportive family. That’s why we’d never leave Vancouver, even though it’s expensive to live here.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    Ahh that’s great you have a dog!! Mika is very cute. I used Rover in the past if I needed dog sitting and if my family wasn’t able to take care of my dog. It’s not bad!

    • Reply
      October 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Rover is definitely a good option. A friend of mine told me today that you can sometimes negotiate the rates so it’s not always as expensive as listed. Good to know you had positive experiences with them in the past!

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    October 18, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    This is the dream adoption! A trained dog you already know and love, with a firm commitment from your aunt&uncle to dogsit? That’s perfect. There are of course the daily responsibilities and costs, but you’ve got the three biggest concerns all set.

    Dogsitting has been one of our biggest expenses since we no longer live with or near friends and family who can take care of our dogs like when I was a kid. But also, unfortunately, our senior dog is now so old now that he needs someone who is really on it to take care of him and his many many medications so he’s a lot more work than this used to be! I used to just be able to go off on trips leaving my dogs with parents or go to my friends’ houses to feed and walk their dogs twice a day, easy peasy. Now I made arrangements that are as complicated for our dogs as I do for ourselves! The first thing I do when we think about taking a trip is book the dogsitter! Then I have to pack foods, medications, treats, bedding, and write up a full two or three pages of detailed information on their needs. 😀

    I’m happy for you that Mika comes with a support network. So few dogs are this lucky. I hope you have many happy years of memory building.

    • Reply
      October 20, 2019 at 1:15 am

      Hi Revanche! I’m going to be a total dork and just say I’ve been a longtime follower of yours and am so honored that you took the time to leave a comment here! 🤩

      Those doggies do get pretty difficult as they age, don’t they? I hope we won’t need to deal with meds and old age issues for a long time… but it’s really helpful to know of others’ experiences so we can be prepared. Thank you for sharing! ❤️

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
        October 25, 2019 at 12:04 pm

        Aw gosh, I didn’t know you were a follower/reader! Lovely meeting you!

        May Mika be healthy for a LONG time 🙂

      • Chrissy
        October 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

        I am a blog lurker… I do a lot of reading but don’t have a lot of time to comment! So a lot of bloggers don’t know I follow them. Ha ha.

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