MUM Leanne Couch is careful not to spoil her kids – but forks out more than £10,000 a year on pampering her POOCH.
The 28-year-old admits her habit of splashing out on pet Lucy is out of control, amounting to more than she spends on her four children.
Leanne — who lives with husband Leigh, 28, and kids Leo, seven, Luis, three, Lacy, two, and six-week-old Livie — buys £200 designer outfits, toys, beds and even pamper sessions with FACIALS and MASSAGES for the 12-year-old Maltese.
She holds down two jobs to fund Lucy’s lavish lifestyle and says: “I call her my fur baby because she feels like one of my babies.
“To me, she is my first-born. As she’s got older I spoil her even more. I hate spoilt kids so I feel no guilt for not buying whatever they want, whenever they want, as I want them to know the value of things.
“Lucy is another matter entirely. She’s a dog, so buying things for her doesn’t change her personality.
“I spend up to £1,000 a month on her. If I see something new she doesn’t already have, I have to buy it. She lives in designer clothes so as soon as a new item hits the shelves I buy it for her.
“Some people won’t get it, but it’s not as if my children live in squalor. If you’re not a dog lover you’re very unlikely to understand.”
There is quite a lot not to understand… Lucy has her own £100 wardrobe and more than 150 outfits, a £94 pushchair, a £400 wooden bed with “Princess Lucy” embossed on it, a £300 designer collar and a £110 necklace for special occasions, as well as regular pampering sessions.
Leanne says: “I make sure she looks and feels her best. I take her to a salon where she is pampered from nose to tail. She has three massages a week costing around £50 to £100 a time.
“She has her fur dyed pretty colours, plus facials and bows put in her hair. She also has pretty dresses, jackets and shoes. She always looks amazing, people are often bowled over by how good she looks.
“With a designer jacket, shoes, bows and a necklace, just one outfit is worth £205.
“The massages help her to relax and the facials help her to look younger. Obviously these treatments cost a lot but I believe she’s worth it.
“I don’t want anyone to judge Lucy for looking scruffy, as that would reflect badly on me too.
“I also make sure she eats well. I buy her special Royal Canin breed-specific dog food for £50 every two months and she eats it out of bowls with her name on.”
For extra-special occasions, Lucy gets extra-special treatment.
Leanne says: “At Christmas she usually gets a new bed, a new wardrobe of designer clothes and a full spa day with treatments.
“The kids have about £200 each spent on them at Christmas but with Lucy it’s £400.
“The children do get treated to things occasionally throughout the year, but I don’t go overboard. I only buy them treats for birthdays and Christmas.”
Not surprisingly, Lucy’s birthday is a big event in the Couch household in Newport, South Wales.
Leanne says: “It’s one of my favourite days of the year. I hold a doggy party for Lucy and her pals.
“They all come over and get pampered with treatments and eat special canine chocolate. I splash out on gifts for her, usually new outfits and toys.
“For my children’s birthdays they usually have a tea party at home and gifts totalling £100. Lucy has £100 spent on gifts and a spa day party costing £165.”
Leanne and Leigh, a heating and gas engineer, work 90 hours a week between them. Leanne, a business adviser, says: “I sacrifice loads so Lucy can have more. We haven’t had a family holiday this year but cutting back on things for Lucy isn’t an option.
“I don’t get my nails done or have expensive haircuts and I hardly ever buy new clothes, but that’s how I choose to spend my money.
“Last year I set up a dog accessories shop in Cardiff to help fund Lucy’s lifestyle. I don’t take a wage from it — any money goes on Lucy, and the shop keeps me up to date with all the doggy trends.”
Monthly spend on Lucy…
£150 three new designer costs
£20 hair bow
£140 pampering and hair dye
£20 new toy
£400 personalised bed
£95 pink pram
Total = £960
Monthly spend on each boy…
£10.50 school jumper
£6 school trousers
£5 hair cut once every six weeks
£10 cinema trip
Total = £61.50
Leanne adds: “Lucy has been my pet since I was a child. I had her before my relationship with Leigh and fell in love with her the moment I brought her home.
“She quickly became my best friend and my baby and there is nothing I won’t do for her.
“The children don’t get jealous and Leigh loves Lucy too, so he goes along with whatever I want to buy her — even though I never give him as much attention as she gets.
“I love my boys dearly but for years I yearned for a little girl to dress up in pink and spoil. Lucy was my first baby so I bought pampering treats and pretty clothes for her instead of for a little girl.
“Boys usually mess up new clothes within five minutes, so I just shop in the high street for their stuff and they share a lot of clothes.
“Now Livie is here I buy girlie clothes for her but it hasn’t stopped me spoiling Lucy.”
Leanne’s dog salon — Mucky Pups — was the first of its kind in Wales when it opened last year and she says: “Lucy was the inspiration behind it.
“I get designer clothes imported from America for her and the shop. If my dog is happy, I’m happy, that’s what it’s all about.”
And she admits: “Lucy is mollycoddled a bit. We never leave her on her own and everywhere she goes she has a bag full of treats and clothes to wear in case she gets cold.
“Lucy is part of the family and everyone loves her, so there are no hard feelings.
“She’s my little princess, so why shouldn’t I treat her like royalty?”