Little dogs feel the pain

    My wife has informed me once again that our current dogs, Lucy and Rocko, will be the last dogs I will ever have the misfortune of owning.
    "Youíre not a dog person," she reported for the thousandth time a few mornings ago. "You donít care about them."
    Thatís not true. I know Iím not a cat person, and Iíve always had dogs, so obviously Iím a dog person. Itís just that Iíve always had BIG dogs, and our current twosome, which happen to be pugs, are a little small for my tastes.
   "And donít give me that Ďbig dog, little dogí crap," she said before I could speak. "Remember Ralph?"
   I loved Ralph, most of the time. He was a BIG dog and we owned him for years. It wasnít my fault he kept running away. I had no choice. If I hadnít taken his tags off it would have been a $500 fine if the Animal Control people caught him again.
   "Cruel," she said, shaking her head. "No true dog person would ever have done what you did to Ralph."
   She was probably right. But she hadnít seen Ralphís ungrateful look when I got the calls to pick him up after his latest road trip. He was a wanderer, and Iím sure heís still wandering somewhere on a ranch in Montana. At least thatís what I told the kids.
   Anyway, the subject came up because Lucy, our 7-year-old little pug, had a toothache. Thatís right, a toothache.
   Well, actually weíre not sure if her tooth actually ached. The veterinarian said her left canine tooth was cracked and could become infected if it wasnít pulled out completely. Naturally, because she is a dog person, my wife immediately agreed that the dental work must be done.
   "800 DOLLARS!!!" I cried when she told me how much it would cost. "Thatís ridiculous. Iíll pull it out myself."
   "She needs to go under general anesthesia," she calmly replied. "Thatís a big part of the cost."
   This was insane. Lucy showed no signs of being in any pain, and certainly had no problems chewing. She would chew through a cyclone fence to get to a doggie treat. Sensing the moment, Lucy wandered over to the table where we were discussing her future health. She looked at me with those sad pug-eyes and I looked down, way down, at her. I was obviously in far more pain than her.
    "Look at her," said my wife, reaching down, way down, to pick her up. "How can you not care about her? The vet said if the tooth becomes infected it can be very dangerous for pugs because of the shape of their mouths."
   "Did the vet suggest we get braces for her teeth, too?" I asked, perhaps a bit too sarcastically. "Maybe that could help solve the problem."
    The argument was over almost as quickly as it started. It was confirmed that I was not a dog person and therefore not qualified to advise on a dogís health. Lucy was going under the knife, or whatever they use to pull a doggie tooth.
    The operation was performed last week. Lucy was indeed in pain that morning, but only because she was denied her morning treat and breakfast because of the impending anesthesia. Iíd never seen her so miserable.
   My wife called me later that day to gloat about the huge success of the operation. Apparently, the doggie dentist had found another tooth near the canine that had an abscess, and it would have become infected, too. So they pulled that one, and a couple of others next to it.
   "1050 DOLLARS!!!" I cried. "I thought it was only 800 stinking dollars for absolutely nothing."
   "Complications," replied my wife, ignoring my pain. "They said they were lucky to have found the abscess. Lucy could have died."
   I thought of the old Jewish proverb, "Life Begins When the Kids Leave Home and the Dog Dies." But I only thought about it for a second.
   I was truly relieved that Lucy was doing fine. When I got home that night Lucy was as happy as ever, but my wife claimed that was probably because of the pain medication she was on.
   I was going to ask for some, but decided against it.

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