K, so I love my dog, Moose. My kids love my dog. My husband secretly loves him, as well.. but since he's a girly poodle-dog, I'm not sure he'll fully admit it. Moose is possibly the most awesome dog... maybe ever. I struggle to love people this much, sometimes ... just because humans can be so disloyal and hurtful, then you have a fluffy, mildly nappy little prancing pup at home who wants nothing more than to jump on you, snuggle you, and kiss your face. Um, yes please.
He is also possibly the lowest maintenance dog I've had. As my friend says, "Moose is a trooper, he survives solely on 12 calories a day!" He eats very little, has close to zero health problems (he does have an occasional ear infection due to his floppy ears - he has medicine for it) and has had the same toy since he was a tiny puppy and still loves it.
I take regular care of him - he's neutered, I get flea/tick prevention for him every year (buying in bulk saves some cash), renew his microchip subscription annually, care for his teeth, get him groomed, and keep him up to date on shots like a "responsible" pet owner.
But sometimes... even with the best care available... things happen with our animals. They're called "emergencies," and I swear, veterinarians are banking on them happening. So Thursday morning, when my big boy woke me up to tell me he was bleeding from his neck, I FUH-REAKED OUT.
I fly out of bed and whisk the dog into the bathtub. There's blood all over. I rinse the dog off and indeed, he is bleeding from a lump on his THROAT... and there's another one. I think it's cancer. Lumps. Blood. Smell.
My vision started to blur. The room started to spin. I get that gonna-puke-now sensation. Husband comes into the bathroom and tells me I look green. Thanks, dude. Just hold my hair.
Husband takes my littlest guy to preschool while I'm dealing with all of this, and tells the teacher that we're probably going to lose the family dog by the end of the day. Teacher says, "I have a book for that!" So they read a book about a dog dying to the WHOLE CLASS to try and make it easier. They even substituted the name of the dying dog in the book with "Moose" so my little guy would understand. I love them. They try.
I wrap Moose in a towel and drive across town to take puppy-E.T. to the vet. The Doc takes a single look at him and says, "looks like he got a little poke that got infected. Probably from a cactus or foxtail. It's called an abscess. I'll just clean him up and he'll be fine."
Sigh of relief.
Tears of joy.
Terror from the potential financial repercussions from this minor incident blown so far out of proportion.
By the time the vet has finished draining his abscesses and cleaning him up, Moose is prancing around the office like nothing ever happened. The vet asks if I would mind leaving him so she could sedate him and get a better look to make sure there was nothing threatening in his "ouch," as my kids were referring to it.
I got to pick him up that evening, and they shaved his entire neck - he looks like a turkey. The stitched him up and prescribed some antibiotics. No cancer, he's fine. In fact, he's great. Although he traumatized the crap out of the entire family, the poodle lives another day. Thanks, mcfluffins, thanks.
My lessons learned:
- Pay attention to your animals. They may not speak, but they have their way of communicating with us. Moose was lethargic for a solid week before this incident. Of course I was concerned, but couldn't figure out what was wrong.
- Make your animal's health a priority. Family health is priority, and our animals are part of the family. Nutrition and hygiene is just as important to the them as it is to us. Feed them well, and check them for bugs, foxtails, goat heads, and the like.
- He's not "just an animal." Paying $100 a year for flea control or $10 a month for medication for your pet's continual health problem is not a "waste" simply because "he's just a dog." I brought this animal into my home, and my cheap attitude would cost me more than $100 when the dog has to go into surgery because of my lack of preventative care. If animal health care is something you cannot afford, don't get an animal. Please.
- Remember to scratch your pup's head and remind 'em you love 'em. They need it as much as we do!