I used to kid around and say I love my puppies as much as I love my kids…but that I’m glad I don’t have the expense of sending these babies to college. I spoke too soon.
When children beg for a dog, parents try to explain to them that it’s a responsibility. A comitment. So with the best of intentions, they buy or adopt a dog. In the beginning, it goes perfectly well: each child is responsible for some little job in caring for the new family pet. But…..before too long, it’s the mother who is the sole caretaker of the animal. She’s the one who makes sure the water bowl is filled with fresh water. That the pet is fed. And she’s the one that cleans up the ‘accidents’. Even an animal knows who the ‘mother’ in the household is. She’s the cook. The ‘rule-maker’. The nurturer. And before long, it’s not the ‘family’ pet….but the ‘mom’s’.
Everything goes along well in the early days. The pet is trained. Taken to obedience school. Taught tricks that he can perform on cue for anyone who is willing to stand still long enough to praise him and offer him a treat. After all, he’s so cute, isn’t he?? And yes, he is loved, and he loves back, with that unconditional love we read about.
But as the years go on, much like the aging human, he develops health problems: arthritis, liver mal-function, low thyroid, incontinence, stomach upsets, skin problems. And the vet bills begin. Pet insurance is very common today, and a good idea, much like ‘people’ insurance, if you take it out when the pet is young. By the time the problems begin….it’s too late.
My younger puppy, Fawn, who is 13, jumped off the couch last week, and knocked his hip out of the joint. He’s done this before. The vet taught me how to ‘bounce’ him to put it back into place…and it usually works. Unfortunately, not this time. By the time we got him to the vet’s on Saturday, we found out that he not only had hip dysplacia, , but that he had a ruptured anterior cruciated ligament…or ACL.
Today he goes in for surgery, to the tune of $1500. Sat’s bill was $75 for the office visit and pain pills. And he will need to be crated and given tlc for 2 months. The vet already warned that once this happens to one limb, not to be surprised if a year-or-so down the road, it happens to another one. Add all this to their $90 a month grooming fees and the special ($$$) dog food they need because of their slowed-down liver function, Coconut's chemo pills, and there goes my "at least we don't have to send them to college" theory!
So…as I head into my first big show in 6 years, my stomach is queasy for yet another reason: I will not be here to hold him, stroke his brow, and just be his ‘mom’. I have precious neighbors who will check in on him on Thursday, and my sister will take both the puppies on Friday…so I’m sure he will survive. I’m just not sure I will.