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  • Julie

Murphy’s Law of Pet Ownership

It’s Murphy’s law of pet emergencies – if your dog or cat or bunny is going to get sick, it most likely will occur on a Sunday, because if something is going to be upsetting and inconvenient, it might as well be expensive, too…

Such was the case when Bogie, our ten-year- old boxer, got sick on New Year’s Eve day. It was a Sunday, the middle of the holiday weekend, and evidently a triple-time payday for those who work in the animal ER.

Bogie had been out of sorts for a few weeks, and we thought his arthritis was bothering him. His symptoms and behavior indicated he might have had a bad reaction to his anti-inflammatory medicine. He was wobbly and cranky and not eating.

By Sunday afternoon, my concern over Bogie’s condition increased. With our regular vet closed, I headed to the nearest pet emergency clinic, where they showed great concern, sincere compassion, and remarkable skill in the area of up-selling.

The process involved much paperwork and estimates and several “let me go back and talk to my supervisor to revise your potential expense threshold” type statements. Potential Expense Threshold, PET, how perfect is that? Listen, nobody loves her dog more than I do, but talk about sticker shock!

A few hours and several hundred dollars later, tests revealed our old boy had megaesophagus, a condition in which the esophagus stops working and can no longer push food and water into the stomach. Poor Bogie was dehydrated, hungry, and depressed. Who could blame him?

At 6pm on New Year’s Eve, I brought in Mark, my husband/money guy, and we were back at the emergency clinic negotiation table. The Senior Sales Manager, cleverly disguised as a veterinary assistant, presented our latest estimate. She opened her mouth to speak, but I stopped her.

“First things first,” I said. “Has the doctor started Bogie’s IV? He needs fluids.”

The Sales Manager shook her head. “We cannot do anything more until you approve the estimate and we run your credit card.”

Mark studied the estimate. “What’s this for? And this… and this… and this…”

“Medications,” she said. “Antibiotics, antacids, anti-nausea . . .”

“Over a thousand dollars’ worth?” Mark said, clearly incredulous.

“These are just estimates, sir. It depends on how long the dog is with us.”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “My dog needs fluids!”

The Sales Manager gave me a look that said something like: Hey lady, I’m waitin’ on you.

Mark drew a line, literally. He drew a line on the estimate and said. “Go this far. No more tests until we speak with our regular vet.” Mark tried to sign off on the paperwork, but the sales manager stopped him.

“Sorry,” she said, “but since you declined these services I have to print a new estimate.”

I lost my patience. “Seriously? Can’t we just scribble out this part and get started? My dog is dehydrated and miserable! He needs fluids now!”

She backed up, looking at me as if she thought I might choke her, which at that point I was ready to do just that.

“I’ll be right back,” she said. Then she scampered out to escape my menacing glare.

Bogie ended up spending 24 hours in the hospital (not a minute over — that would have started the clock on another twelve hour charge). We brought him home on New Year’s Day. He had a little more spring in his step after receiving fluids the price of Dom Perignon and medications more expensive than a pair of Jimmy Choos . . .

Some people say it’s crazy to spend that kind of money on an old dog. But it’s a tricky decision that must be made at a stressful time. You’re worried your dog might die, so you take him in. First you approve the diagnostic package, and it seems reasonable enough. But then the add-ons start. You figure you’ve already spent a chunk, what’s a few more chunks? And then a few more after that? Before you know it, you’ve cancelled your summer vacation. And that, dear friends, is Murphy’s Law of Pet Ownership.

Bogie is ten days out of the hospital, much better and happier. He’s home with his pack and back in the care of his regular doctor.

Bogie counting his “bogie-balls”

As for me, ever the  optimist and clever problem-solver, I’ve invented “Bogie-balls” and “Bogie-broth” and started posting instructional videos on Facebook. My new venture isn’t profitable yet, but once those clips go viral I’ll earn back that hospital bill ten times over. I’m sure of it. Forget champagne – I’m ringing in the new year with lemonade.

Here’s my instruction video on how to make Bogie-balls. He loves them and won’t allow the pups to have any! I’m considering an audition for “Dog-food Network.”  What do you think? 

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