Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our "free" dog

Back in June 2005, our neighbors had a litter of puppies. Actually, it wasn't our neighbors -- that would really be a story -- but their dog. There were about six of little puppies. Mom was a Australian Shepherd, and Dad must have snuck under the fence.

Anyway, we were offered one when they were eight weeks old. We thought about it for a few days. It had been a couple of years since our previous dog had to be put down, so we thought we were ready. After all it was "free.''

The puppy wasn't crazy about going all the way next door, what with his mom and the rest of the dysfunctional family (the puppies, not the neighbors) within howling distance. He whimpered when he went in our house and slept in the cool grass of the backyard near the fence of his birthplace. But after a few days, he adjusted.

I named the dog "Ranger" after the downtrodden baseball team. This may explain a lot since that's how he looked. Within a couple of days, my wife noticed he was pretty listless and still. She thought he may have Parvo, a deadly dog illness. So we took him to the vet, and sure enough, it was. It would cost about $350 to have him treated.

That was a lot of money and chances of survival weren't good. But the little fella sure was cute, so we bit the bullet and forked over the money, thinking he wasn't going to make it. But lo and behold, he responded.

Flash forward a year or two and now Ranger developed some kind of allergy where his stomach turns hot red and he gets restless and stretches and whimpers if he eats the wrong thing or doesn't get his allergy pill. One night after midnight, he was doing all of that. None of us could sleep, and instead of just tuning him out for the evening and taking him to the vet the next day, it was voted upon that I take him to the 24-hour emergency vet.

Some $200 later for the emergency call, he got an allergy shot and we eventually had our sleep. The next morning I got him his pills. Never even a thank you.

Thene there was the time we gave him a bath IN the bathtub. His fur clogged up the plumbing and caused all kinds of issues. That wasn't cheap.

Just a few weeks ago, we thought the old boy had arthritis. It's a common affliction when they get to be about that age among the breed. He had trouble getting up. But once he was up, he was running around like Secretariat. But he just had trouble getting up or down.

So again, took him to the vet last week. He got a shot and I was told to bring him in this week. So this morning he went in for an X-ray. Nothing in the joints or bones, but something maybe muscular. He got a cortisone shot and some cortisone pills, and oh, I needed some heartworm medicine. That was $140.

So this "free" dog has cost more than $700 in major medical expenses. And that doesn't include the usual vaccinations and a huge appetite.

And the worst part of it is Ranger keeps looking at me with those sad brown eyes and that little pant of his and I can't even work up a good anger at him.

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