Friday, June 18, 2010

Jack Attack

We have dogs.  Have I ever mentioned that?  And we love them.  More than a little.  It took about half my married life to convince Beve that to get one, but once I managed we took the plunge and never looked back.  Now it's hard for him to remember that he drug his feet for so long, let alone why.  And this Big Lug has been part of our pack longer than any of them.  Sweet and gentle (at least to humans), a pretty boy through and through, we love him to pieces.

But until the last ten days, we didn't know exactly how far that love extended.  See, we've always thought there was a cap on pet love, kind of like a salary cap for pro athletic teams.  We'd pay only so much and no more.  We've watched others take their dogs and cats (cats???) to the vet and come away with shockingly high vet bills.  No way, we told each other.  They're only pets.  Only dogs.  And their life expectancies are short as it is.  That's why last summer, when Jackson tore his CCL, we chose not to get it fixed, despite our vet's recommendation.  3500.00 was just too much to spend on such a procedure, a procedure that, among other things, meant cutting bones, and required us to keep him from using a single stair for six weeks.  We couldn't see it.  Didn't do it.

And guess what?  He recovered.  Grew scar tissue, learned to compensate.  He can now run almost as well as he did before, though he doesn't have the same quick first step.  And his jumping isn't quite as high. But he's nine, after all.  All in all, we've felt good about that decision.  Justified in our inaction.

Then last week he ate not one but two, maybe three beef bones down to nothing.  Swallowed them all.  And guess what?  Our extremely healthy dog was suddenly clogged up with bone bricks in his colon.  And we started doling out dollars.  Taking Jackson to the vet daily.  You've never seen more people more invested in a dog's ability to squat and relieve.  Every time he went outside, Beve, E and I rushed out with him to watch.  To pray for a victory.  And every morning we ended up back at the vet when the medication hadn't worked, the petroleum sandwiches were rebuffed (he's not a dumb dog, though Jamaica is--she happily stole them from him and ate them!) along with everything else we tried to feed him.  And the money.  Oh, the money.

All those people we've scoffed at over the years for spending money on their pets?  They can be laughing at us now because we're right there beside them.  See, I just felt so dang guilty.  I gave him the bones to begin with.  And he was a healthy dog.  IS a healthy dog.  Do you refuse to treat a healthy dog because he acted like a dog?  Did what his nature demanded he do--chew up a bone?  So we paid the daily bill, cringed as we saw it.

Finally our vet--whom we love, really we do--had run out of ideas, and said she had to do surgery.  There was no other choice.  He wasn't passing those bricks.  Beve--more practical than me--wanted the bottom line: "How much more will this cost?" He'd told us that we simply couldn't afford a huge surgery bill, even if it meant Jackson die.  The kids and I were terrified at the thought.  We're emotional about these things.  And Kim, our vet, said, "I don't want to make money on this, I just want to fix it." So she quoted us a ridiculously low price for the surgery.  The lowest price of any of our daily bills.  I felt like crying.  You should have seen how quick Beve's turnaround was.  He was suddenly all over the surgery idea!

Jackson came home this morning, sporting a newly shorn stomach and hind end.  With a spring in his step and a thrill to our hearts.   When Kim called this morning she said that she'd thought he was pretty happy before, but he was really bouncing around this morning, clearly well, and ready to get out of there! She'd found two bone bricks inside him, and the one further up in his intestines had bone spikes and claws.  It would have ripped him to shreds to try to pass.  Kind of makes me cringe to think about.

The folks at our vet's hospital have spent so much time with our dog in the last ten days, they've named him, "Jack Attack."  Love him to pieces.  But I'm telling you, not as much as we love him.  And are glad he's home and back to his own lovely self.

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