Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tough Choice to Make

My first experience with the high cost of vet bills occurred when I married my wife. My wife has a heart of gold and has always viewed her animals like her children. Though I laughed with those comments as I wrote earlier,  I could appreciate the affection she has for the animals in our lives.

But, just a suggestion, before you marry an animal lover, you need to know just how big of an animal lover that person may be.

If the person will not eat lamb because the animal is cute, you may start to have some conflict. Or if the person announces they will run into a raging house fire to save their cat then you start to realize the person is potentially an over the top animal lover. When a person announces the animals have emotions then you hit the jackpot!

I grew up in a family of 6 children and though we loved our dachshund, I always knew that there would be a monetary limit of how much money would be used to save her life should she become ill. And though I think my parents probably went over the limit of expenditures on several occasions, my father remarked, "Remember the dachshund is just a dog and can be replaced---people cannot."

So, mentally I was always prepared to have a cutoff amount in mind with vet bills. Neutering, spaying, annual shots basic physicals were always acceptable costs to doing business when owning an animal. But the extreme costs of medical bills I always dreaded---maybe it is a guy thing.

Because I am a worrier by nature, I always had scenarios in my mind what should be done an animal get seriously ill or injured. Hit by a car, survives, with a zillion broken bones, the animal is hugged and then put out of his misery. Cancer the animal is put down. Old age put the animal to sleep as they expect us to do so.

I ran all these scenarios in my head and told my wife who agreeably and dutifully shook her head.

My mother-in-law lived with us when our 8-year-old collie Ramby became very ill. We had already expended a large amount of money due to a freak occurrence and my wife was expending an extra-ordinary amount of time carrying for this weakened animal. Due to his illness, hip dysplasia developed and he was having great difficulty moving.

Our vet told my wife that the surgery would be close to $5,000 and there would be no guarantee he would get better. We did not have $5,000---nor would I have approved of such an expense.

I had gone to work the next day and when I returned I learned my mother-in-law had broken a certificate of deposit to pay for the surgery. I was angry with the two women in my life, but this was how my mother-in-law wanted to spend her money.

Well, Ramby had the surgery at that fancy animal hospital and died a week or two later.

I knew saying to my wife and mother-n-law, "I told you so," would not be a good comment. A few days later we had the discussion about how we cannot possibly pay for such an expensive surgery again and knew we would not make such extreme expenditures again. I ran all of the possible scenarios in my head and shared them with my wife.

At least I thought we were in agreement.

Edward Houghton

Next Blog: " Well, what is in your wallet," I thought I heard the vet mutter.

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