Szyperski: Knock, knock, knockin’ on the veterinarian’s doorWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not completely sure if my children are more work than the average cub, but it certainly seems like it at times. Aside from all three arriving early, we’ve dealt with several bouts of croup, two broken bones, stomach flu on a plane (two trips in a row), front-yard screaming fits, the tragic death by soccer of our backyard grass, countless ridiculous messes and more sleepless nights than I can remember. Yet, just when I thought we were reaching the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel (e.g., kids who make their own breakfast, perform bathroom activities unassisted and kind of sleep through the night), along came Rex.
Rex is the 5-year-old rescue dog we adopted in January. It wasn’t long before we realized that his level of difficulty is right on par with the rest of our crew. I figured if we brought in some foreign DNA we might have a shot at normalcy, at least canine-wise, but it was not to be. Since we had him very little time before he showed his true colors, I’ve decided I’m not taking credit for his natured or his nurtured self.
We did, however, agree to take financial and emotional responsibility for him. I would call it a roller coaster, but only the emotional part has had its downs and its ups. Financially I have yet to see our flat-coated retriever throw a hard-earned paycheck into the income pot. In fact, we are already a couple of grand in the hole, not including food, water and regular vet visits.
We are, however, now all too familiar with emergency vet visits. After a non-urination stint in March, complete with doggy catheterization, history decided to repeat itself in July. What one draining of the bladder fixed a few months ago turned into a much more dire situation the next time. This time around, Rex ended up in and out of the veterinary hospital and with multiple catheterizations. When it became apparent that he just didn’t have it in him to drain his own bladder, we did what any good-hearted, animal-loving, semi-crazy dog parents would do and went in for a “How to Catheterize Your Dog at Home” lesson.
Oddly, the catheter wouldn’t budge that time. It was stuck and we were stuck. We quickly discovered that there aren’t too many options for a dog who can neither pee and nor be catheterized, one being the option that shall not be named. Tears were shed and there came an understanding that we may never quite figure out what was wrong. Yet, there thankfully came a ray of light. After hundreds of dollars of tests in March and a plethora of erratic symptoms in July, one large rogue stone finally showed up on a last ditch X-ray.
One stone led Rex’s incredibly patient and persistent vets to multiple stones and an accumulation of bladder sludge, which is apparently more of a cat thing. Our dog having a cat issue just seemed to make sense considering our cat’s usually-found-in-dogs recurrent impacted anal glands. At least there is usually some sort of irony to find a bit of humor in.
Actually, the journey past Rex’s gentle and thankfully unanswered knock on death’s door came with a surprising amount of laughable moments. As I walked him into the first of two veterinary hospitals we visited, I was surprised by its resemblance to a law office and found it oddly structured to be welcoming to animals. As I quickly realized that I was standing in an actual law office with my 65-pound dog, I nearly knocked all three of my children down a la George Constanza at the birthday party fire.
As if Rex coming home post-surgery sporting the infamous plastic cone wasn’t humorous enough on its own, we had the added comical twist of his now-three-times-as-large head scraping poetically day in and day out against freshly painted walls. Yes, we had not only just used funds for paint that could have been used for vet bills had we known, but the new paint was now also being systematically pummeled by said vet experience. Ah, the sweet humor of it all.
So, this is what our family, friends and perfect strangers meant when they said that getting a dog would be like having another child: immeasurable love, lots of worry and big bucks. Yes, love can be expensive, but I can’t help but notice that testing, surgery and multiple days in the hospital for our dog was still cheaper than an hour at the ER and one breathing treatment for our kid. Compared to the cost of another C-section, Rex has actually turned out to be quite a deal.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.