For years our kids had begged us to get a dog, which, of course, they would walk rain or shine. After we moved to a bigger place, we felt we were short of any more excuses, so we went to the dog pound and, for the modest sum of NIS 400, which was basically only a payment for the shots and the license, we got ourselves the sweetest mutt in the place. Since this was a female and we have no intention of breeding her, we had her neutered a few weeks later. The cost: another NIS 750. After the first visit to the pet store to get basic dog accessories, such as food, a water bowl and food bowl, a leash, a toy, etc., we walked away another NIS 400 poorer. After a few weeks, our initially sweet dog turned out to be a real bitch with some less endearing character traits, and we sought professional training help. I can only say that for the money we spent on this, we could have gotten ourselves a full-breed golden retriever puppy, or another pure breed. And I'm hearing the same kind of stories from almost every other dog owner: the high bills from the veterinarian, money spent on food, and many other items are a big cost. Walking into any pet store these days, you're amazed by the enormous amount of products you can get for your dog (and for your cat too, by the way). We are really treating these four-legged creatures as human beings, and some items seem almost laughably excessive. You can enter the store intending to buy only a bag of dog food but get carried away and walk out with some other interesting products that might seem essential to you. As far as food is concerned, you will probably be told you need something premium or super-premium, such as Eukaneba, which lists chicken first on the ingredients list. This can easily set you back a few hundred shekel; the makers claim (and some vets too) your dog will be healthier, its coat will look better, and you will save yourself some trips to the vet. Another super-premium food listing chicken as the first ingredient is Pro-Plan. Currently, you will also receive a storage container for free with the purchase of a 3.6 kg. bag, or a collar and leash with a 17 kilo bag. At the supermarkets, you can find brands that are cheaper, such as Dogli or Bonzo. Bonzo offers you three kilo extra this month when buying a 12-kilo bag, and Dogli gives you a leash with the purchase of a 12-kilo bag. Cans of dog food, containing chicken, liver, etc., are not recommended. These foods should only be used occasionally as treats, so you won't spoil your dog. This wet food can make your dog's breath foul, and can cause problems in the intestines. The dry food contains everything your dog needs. If you fear your dog is not going to eat the dry food, you can get special gravy to pour over it. At the Jungle pet stores, these bottles of Vita Gravy, in the flavors chicken or bacon & cheese, are sold at NIS 44.90 though this price is for members. There is no cost for membership, you just have to take out a membership card. Obesity is not a problem restricted to human beings. Dogs suffer from it, too, and Techni-Cal Solutions has a Weight Control super-premium food for dogs and cats. A 15 kilo-bag of Weight Control for dogs is NIS 230-240. To train the dog, and give him rewards, there are many different treats available, with the oddest flavors. Did you ever think your dog would like chocolate flavored treats? At the Jungle pet stores, you can find Dogit Drops, vitamin treats with white chocolate flavor, for NIS 25.90, and Vitakraft drops with milk-chocolate flavor, for NIS 19.90. JerHigh dog snacks contain real chicken meat, and come in different shapes, such as stripes, sticks, etc., and cost NIS 18.90. To easily carry treats with you when you go for a walk, you can get the Click 'n' Treat dog treat dispenser, filled with 50 biscuit treats. This dispenser is NIS 41.90 at Jungle, and refills are available. Highly recommended by the sales person in the pet store was the Kong rubber ball, with a hole inside where you can stick a treat. The dog will then be occupied for a while trying to get the treat out. You can also put special dog peanut butter inside - something they supposedly love. To have your dog play with something that cleans his teeth at the same time, you can find many toys that will do the job. Antos is marketing treats in the shape of a toothbrush, a crocodile, or a star that will clean the teeth of plaque. The price for these treats varies from NIS 10 to NIS 20, depending on the size. To clean your dog's teeth, you can even get toothbrushes that you stick on top of your finger, although I imagine this should only be done with a well-trained dog if you value your fingers. A set of two toothbrushes by Amitay is NIS 15.90 at Jungle. The store owner recommended Orozyme, an oral hygiene gel, sold at NIS 59.90, which you can just rub on the dog's teeth. Another elaborated toy that helps clean gum and teeth is the Kong Stuff'n Breath Combo, a toy and breath paste, sold for NIS 147.90. You put the paste on the toy, and while the dog plays, he gets a cleaning. Yet another option is the D.D.S. dental rope with dental spray (NIS 49.90), which also freshens the dog's breath. F or a canine pedicure, you can get special nail cutters, such as the DogIt nail cutter, sold at NIS 59.90. For a nice groom, try the Le Salon Rubber Scrubber Brush, which also gives your dog a massage (not suitable for detangling hair); this device is NIS 87.90. A useful item for the dog owner is the Hagen Kleen Roll (NIS 59.90), which removes pet hair from your clothes or furniture. And for the dirty job of cleaning up after your dog, there are carton pooper-scoopers to make it less unpleasant - a set of 10 is NIS 19.90. The girl in the shop assured me a lot of people are buying them to remove a lot of poop from their yard. During the cold and rainy winter days, you can protect your dog with all kinds of fashionable sweaters and jackets. These come in different sizes, and are not only for small dogs, but also for bigger breeds that don't have a lot of fur. Ferplast jackets (NIS 73.50) come in 12 different sizes; they cover the back, and are water resistant. And small dog sweaters with pictures of Hello Kitty or Tweety (not rain-proof) are NIS 39 at Jungle. To be seen in the dark for night-walking, you can get your dog a Safety Dog reflecting jacket, sold at NIS 59.90. At the Meow Hatula stores, you can even find pajamas for your dog, with colorful prints of flowers or squares, for NIS 45.