Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life. It's a (dog-related expletive joke).

For about two months, Spence has been yelping in pain, for no reason. I have taken him to two different vets trying to figure out the problem. The second vet was recommended to me by a coworker as, I quote, "The Dr. House of veterinarians."

A few weeks ago, Dr. House tentatively diagnosed Spence with a disorder that will either require medicine for the rest of his life, or brain surgery. Today, he confirmed the diagnosis.

Of course, I heard "brain surgery" and promptly had a meltdown, which became even worse when I found out that Dr. House didn't know any colleagues who performed the procedure, and I'd probably have to go to Real Colorado to get it. He also stared at me blankly as I sniffled and tried to incoherently explain that I'd gone to a breeder for the express purpose of avoiding various congenital problems -- like, "Why is salt water coming from your ocular orifices? This does not compute." But he was very nice to Spence, so yay for Vet Dr. House!

When I told my dad about Spence's diagnosis, he was surprisingly supportive. I say "surprisingly" because my dad is old school -- as in, raised in the era where kids had to shoot their own dogs, Old Yeller Style. I thought he would be cold and pragmatic about the situation.

Instead, he said, "It's only money and he's a good dog. If you want to spend that money on him, spend it." He then offered to give me cash for Christmas instead of presents.

Of course, he also turned the moment into a "this is why we should vote for Mitt Romney" opportunity. (The logic went like this: I'd taken Spence to a different vet, twice, at $50 a visit, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. The new vet had a tentative diagnosis within ten minutes of seeing Spencer. Moral of the story? "The first vet was probably a nice guy, but he was in over his head. The second guy was kind of cold, but he got business done. And that's why you should go with specialized expertise, every time. Hashtag Mitt Romney.")*

But that's neither here nor there.

When I told Diego about what was going to happen (and that the money I have been saving for a kitchen remodel so we could stop hand-washing dishes might be spent on dog surgery instead), he was upbeat. We spent the evening googling Spencer's diagnosis and coming across websites of other Cavalier owners, begging for money to fund their dogs surgery -- which I (uncharitably) found annoying, since anyone who came across their website probably found it because THEIR OWN dog has a similar problem.

"Some of us are self-funding our expensive dog surgeries," I muttered (it was just a Republican sort of day, I guess.)

Diego looked at me. "I know you're probably going to want to pay for it yourself, but if he needs it, I'm throwing a fundraiser. And my mom and grandma will donate. And don't turn it down, because if we do have to take him to Colorado, you won't want to have to pay for hotel rooms on top of everything else."

Do you know what I loved best about that declaration? The assumption that of course I wouldn't have to take Spencer to Colorado alone.

Since that first tentative diagnosis, there has been good news. Spence is already on the medicine for the disorder, which isn't terribly expensive, and after almost two weeks, it does seem to make him more his old, sassy self ... who now has to pee every forty-five minutes.

And if surgery does become a necessity, Colorado is off the table, because there's a vet neurosurgeon (that's a thing!) who comes into town every three weeks. And in case I want to get holistic up in this grill, there's also a vet chiropractor (also a thing!) in Park City.

Neurosurgeons and chiropractors ... for dogs.

Say it with me now ...

In short, if you have a little furry friend with a health problem, be glad that our society has advanced to a point where acupuncture for animals is a reality. Be grateful to your friends; they will be sympathetic, and not mind you wanting to spend weekends watching The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods with your pet.

And your dog will likewise get over it, because dogs are very special creatures with short memories and big hearts.

Believe me, I know. Spence already is back to thinking he's king of the house -- play growling at Charlie the Pitbull included.

* Obviously, I added the "Hashtag Mitt Romney" thing. My dad was born during the FDR presidency, people, he uses a Nokia.


  1. Thanks for sharing the information about your dog. I find how people react to pets fascinating! I hope all goes well for you and the pooch!

    (my dad was born during the Coolidge presidency and never saw a cell phone, which, I'm sure, he would have LOVED...his political take--speculatively speaking--would be to throw them all out...)

  2. over the four years I have had my dog, we have spend $4,000 on medical bills for her. as you said, I self-funded it, and don't let anyone try to make me feel bad for "wasting" my money. It's my money and I used it how I saw fit, and if you do decide to spend the money, don't let anyone make you feel bad about it! and if you don't spend it, that's okay too. It's great that you have people who love and support you and Spence.

    Also, if you haven't already, make sure you have looked at 1800 petmeds or other online retailers because the medications can get really expensive fast. I hope Spence gets healthy soon.

  3. I love your fun style of writing about such a potentially tragic thing. And I'm very happy that the solution is closer to home than orginially expected!

    1. Thanks - it is a big relief. It's still stressful, but it's more manageable.

  4. I'm so sorry about Spence's diagnosis, but glad you have answers and good people around to help you out so you don't have to go through it alone.

  5. My little sister's baby is her cat and he was diagnosed with Cancer one week before her wedding. Ugh. He had immediate surgery 5 days before her wedding and my parents took him to the kitty Oncologist 2 hours away (yes, it's a thing!) while she was on her honeymoon. She was a wreck. I appreciate a person who calls their "pet" a member of the family. I support you!

  6. So glad you don't have to travel, but if you did, we'd find you guys someplace to stay. You're by Spense the way I was by my Sass. I loved that dog, still miss her, 8 years later. :)