I took Lil’ Miss Meepers back to her original animal hospital this morning.
When I first met the dog she was a patient with parvo, the deadliest disease a puppy can catch. It kills most dogs it infects. She weighed one pound, seven ounces. Christina brought her to the condo on a Friday night. She had never brought an animal home before.
This dog is going to die this weekend. I just didn’t want her to die in the hospital.
The puppy lay in a small shoebox and didn’t appear to be moving. She was approximately six weeks old and had been brought in from the owner of a high-end dog shop. This store specializes in small dogs, all under five pounds. He had purchased the dog for $500 and was attempting to see her for $2,000. He would have sold her at that price, too, except she contracted parvo.
Parvo is a highly contagious disease and an infected dog needs to be removed from the general population immediately. It will infect other dogs and half of them will die. He brought her to Christina to protect his investment.
At the time we had two cats. Out of all the doctors and techs, we were the only ones without a dog. Parvo doesn’t affect cats. Even though there are employees at the hospital at the weekend, doctors are only there sporadically. Christina brought her home and we attended to her. I hadn’t really ever been around sick animals and this one was damned sick. Her eyes didn’t open. She would cough a little but that was it. Every three hours we had to use a humidifier to open her lungs and then an eyedropper to distribute water and food. Her veins were too small to insert an IV.
D.J. – don’t get attached. I’ve estimated her chances at only 30% survival.
That Sunday we had planned to go up to the Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin. I know you’re laughing right now. But you’re wrong to laugh. It’s fun. More fun that you know. And no, I don’t dress up.
We had to give the dog to Will – one of the other vets in her practice. He also didn’t have a dog. He’s got a ferret now that I think about it. There was some reason he couldn’t take her home on Friday, but whatever. Maybe he was trying to get laid and a dying dog isn’t exactly a panty-melter. He took her while we watched jousts and drank mead.
On the way home I realized I had started to fall for this dog. I told my wife as much and she was starting to have feeling for her too. There were two problems, however. First, the dog didn’t belong to us. Second, it was going to shove off.
I’ll write the whole story later, but obviously the dog survived. The vet bills to nurse her were well over $1500 and he couldn’t keep paying as she recovered so he released her to us. She also developed a nasty case of pneumonia during parvo and almost died again. Then she broke her leg a few months later.
Since then, perfect health. This morning it felt good to go back to the animal hospital where, for the first year of her life, she would accompany my ex-wife. Most of the staff were still there and they fawned over her when she came in. I got to visit with the doctors. Sure it was a bit uncomfortable showing up at a place with people I hadn’t seen since the divorce. I got over that quickly.
My wife moved a few years ago to California. I’m not sure if she’s been back to Chicago, but my guess is that even if she’s been here, she didn’t make a trip to the hospital. So, in a weird way, I’m the active link to these people.
I didn’t go to her hospital for the past two years. I felt too uncomfortable going there without my wife. I worked with another vet the past two years, and she was great. The real reason I went back today, however, is that they have excellent care and are reasonably priced. I called Christina last week to find out what the dog needed. My currently hospital suggested four vaccines. Christina told me the dog needed none and just some regular bloodwork.
Thank God I still have a nice relationship with Christina. She saved me $300 today. I’ll continue to use her for animal advice.
One of the things Will said when I came in this morning struck an emotional chord. He proudly announced to the newer staff, “I practically raised this dog her first year!”
This is wildly inaccurate, as he was just in the same building as her each day. My wife and I did 99.9% of the heavy lifting. But in his mind he was a big part of the experience. And you could tell how special that was to him. It was too beautiful of a moment to correct.
By the way, she needs to lose exactly one pound. Also, she’s due for a dental, which runs around $300. Oh well – it’s basically the first time I’ve had to pay for animal care as an adult. I highly recommend marrying a vet if you have animals. Totally pays off.
Hmm – I should have factor in the cost of divorce and the emotional damage being repaired by my therapist. Probably a draw.