Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is in Your Wallet?

People love their animals; one of the best places to witness pet owners’ attachments is to go to the PetSmart stores. At PetSmart, people can shop with their animals in tow.

Dogs of all sizes and breeds are prancing up and down the aisles with their owners. And when one excited dog poops or pees, the pet owner apologizes to the store staff and admonishes their pet with "Now why didn’t you wait and do that at home."

Of course the good nature staff responds, "Madam it is not a problem we will just clean it up and here is a cookie for your good dog."

Besides animal watching, PetSmart is a great place to people watch. Owners of all different ages, demeanors, and physical sizes (I am the large bulky cuddly size), are going up and down the aisles looking for the hundreds of different selections of food or toys for their furry animal child.

For me, I enjoy reading about the different types of dog foods available. My wife and I located a great canned dog food which comes in great flavors as Lamb Stew with Vegetables and Rice; Chicken and Dumplings, and Turkey Meat Loaf; Venison (are there deer hunters bringing the meat to the manufacturer?) etc.   

When I was buying a brand one time, the clerk recommended a new brand to us, which we bought this Sunday. I am psyched to see if the clear coats and eyes return with this new brand. (Of course, I will let you all know!)

I shared with my wife the subject of my most recent blog and we recalled the visit to the fancy vet hospital where we took Reimer, an old spaniel hound mix.

Reimer was a very old dog and was the second of the trio of the male dogs which needed some serious medical attention. Reimer was old and was starting to have some health issues and had been monitored by our veterinarian.

One night, my wife decided that he was particularly ill and she called the 24-hour emergency number and we took the dog in. We were prepared to put him to sleep. My wife, my mother-in-law, and I took Reimer to the hospital with the likelihood he would not be coming home.

We were ushered into a small room with Reimer. Reimer was up on the examination table and the young vet came in and started talking to all of us. He looked around at all of us and announced that with some expensive tests and with a stay in the hospital,  a determination could be made what is wrong with Reimer.

I looked at the doctor and looked at my wife (our family banker) and my mother-in-law (the wealthier one of our family) and asked the vet, "What would you do." The vet responded, "I can’t tell you what to do sir, that is up to you."

I responded, "Reimer is an old dog, he appears to be in pain, don’t you think we should put him to sleep."
The vet again responded, "Sir, I cannot tell you what to do."

At this point, I was watching the women in my life and admittedly I was dreading another major animal hospital bill after my mother-in-law so recently had paid $5000 dollars for a failed surgery. For these ladies, this dog was a living, unique, breathing animal with those possibly extreme methods no matter what the cost should be exhausted to keep him a live.  My wife was reaching for the credit card.

My patience with the vet’s political correctness had ended and asked him point blank what would the entire cost of attempting to diagnose and treat this old dog’s illness. He gave us the rundown on the costs. Though I prefer to talk privately about money, the vet would not leave the room and so we openly in front of him, my wife and I talked about the costs.

I again, looked at the vet, he knew money was indeed a concern and finally he said essentially, "Well I can’t tell you what to do, but if Reimer were my dog…" and then he said he would most likely have Reimer put to sleep.

That was what I needed, not what I wanted to hear, but an honest appraisal to this very middle class cash strapped people an honest assessment of what really were our options.

Reimer was not put down that night, probably should have been, as we took him home and several days later we took him back to the hospital and had him put to sleep with all of us in the room with him.

Edward Houghton
Next: Letting Go

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