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« Quick note about comments | Main | More common ground: Ending the "adoptable" debate »

26 July 2007

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Lynn

Would I spend it all again for any one of mine? In a heartbeat.

Jamie

Christie - what a beautiful love story with Raven.



I have not faced high vet bills for any one procedure, but an accumulation of expenses for surgeries care over the past 7 months has hit near $10,000. There will come a time when I simply can't afford it. Don't know when that will happen. I can't imagine life without my dog(s) - any one or all. They are dear dear friends.



Even thought about selling my house if needed -maybe live in a cave.

Alex from Embrace

@Eliza: VPI is not being truthful, there are pet insurance companies that will cover liver shunts. My guess is that VPI won't pay because it considers them genetic in origin and thus excluded. At least three pet insurance companies in the US (Embrace, Petplan, and PetCare) do cover genetic conditions.

Laura

I'd say Fritz needs a new bank. Who the heck calls their clients to critique their spending choices?



As for doing too much, yes, you can. I've done it. In my case, the problem wasn't nearly so much the money as it was the extended suffering I put my dearest dog through because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to her.



I don't blame the vet, because hey, I was crying, and the vet was doing what I obviously wanted her to do - i.e. everything I could to save my dog. But I've learned a lot since then. A good vet will move heaven and earth to save your pet's life. But a really good vet will tell you, compassionately, when it's time to say goodbye.



I'd like to say it's never about money, but it is sometimes. It's the same as it is for human family members: if there's a new lifesaving treatment out there, you go for it. But in the vet world, there's rarely an insurer to help you foot the bill.



There was an excellent article in the NY Times recently about low income families in TN who take in strays that are dumped in their neighborhood. My partner, a vet, likes to parrot the vet school saying that "if you can't afford the vet, you can't afford the pet." I tell her that's true in some cases and BS in others. These people already know they can't afford these pets - in their case, even a bag of crappy food is "too much." But what else are they supposed to do, throw rocks at the strays? Of course they feed them!



Vets here in NC like to talk about their pro bono work. But the majority do shelter S&Ns or ferals in catch and release programs. Both are very worthy, don't get me wrong -- but they aren't much help to the people trying to provide homes to these animals.



Vets are so worried about cutting into their profession's bottom line that many are reluctant to do more than the occasional at-cost care for pets with owners. God forbid they do an at-cost S&N for owners on fixed incomes. Yes, vets have a right to make a living - hey, that's part of my household income. But I think many could do more for their communities than they do.



SO my roundabout, long winded point is that "too far" covers so many issues: How sick your pet is, how good your vet is, how much money you can truly afford to spend, how much help you can get, and how quickly you can forgive yourself if you have to make difficult choices. I don't regret the money I've spent, but I do wish my choices had been more about my dog's needs than about mine.

Gina Spadafori

I just got home from picking my oldest dog up at the veterinarian's. Heather is almost 11, and she had a broken tooth removed today, and a complete dental cleaning and scaling, plus the ultrasound that was the final element of her six-month check-up (very important for seniors).


On a previous six-month check-up, we caught a potentially lethal tumor on ultrasound when it was very, very tiny, and her spleen was removed with the tumor. It might have been too late if the tiny mass had been discovered when she was showing symptoms. Instead, she is still with me, two years later.


This broken tooth we caught as part of her exam. He got in there under anesthesia today and the rot went through to her jaw. We couldn't believe she hadn't been showing any sign of pain! Anyway, it's all cleaned up now, her ultrasounds was clean as a whistle and she is, says the vet, the fittest, healthiest 11-year-old retriever he has ever seen. (Heather runs 5 to 10 miles a week.)


So here's the funny thing. This week for my dogcars.com review, I'm driving an $80K Mercedes SUV. Yes, it's incredibly nice, but it isn't $40K more nice than the Acura RDX I loved, or a few of the other very nice cars I've driven for a week each time and reviewed for our site.


But people look at me in admiration for being able to drop $80K on a car (which I point out that I haven't, showing them the manufacturer's plates on the car and telling them that my car is a 10-year-old minivan).


So ... why is it admirable to drop $80K on a car, and incomprehensible (or even laughable) to many to spend a fraction of that on the health of a living, breathing, loving member of the family?


Honestly, I'd rather drive that ol' van for another 10 years if I can have more quality time with my healthy family ... pets, included!


thomas

Four of my five are throw-aways ,the discards from puppy mills.Three are labs and one is a cocker spaniel.All are spayed or neutured. The little cocker on the day she was rescued went immediately to the vets as she had a severe eye problem . Her eye needed to come out immediately. Thanks to the kindness of people we were able to have her surgery done. One woman donated $500.00 , the vet donated and I donated. The vet said she needed to be groomed before her surgery as she was a mattted filthy mess. So she had her first professional grooming apoint. The groomer donated toward the cost as did strangers. The day after being groomed she had her eye removed. We tried to save the remaining eye but were unable to. So she had a second surgery and do to complications from the second surgery a 3rd surgery was neccessary. She also had breast biopsys and was spayed. Her vet bills have gone over the $2000 mark.



I must admit I never liked cocker spaniels I thought they were all nasty little dogs . I have come to realize I was wrong. Patsy is now a canine good citizen . She voluteers at a nursing home. She brings so much delight to the residents . She is one smart little lady. She has learned commands like find the wall. Walls help her navigate. Easy means there is an object in front of her.Step up means there is a curb or step in front of her and she will locate it and step up . step down means the oppossite and she again will locate and step down.



The most amazing thing about Patsy is she forgives people for the neglect that allowed her to suffer needlessly and painfully. This little throw away is worth everything that people have done for her.

Andrea 2CatMom

How can you put a price on someone you love. I would do exactly as you have all done in your situations.



About 25 years ago, I had a cat that had a tumor in her ear. Benign but very invasive. I was a student at the time living on a $3500 a year stipend - which wasn't very much even then. Fortunately, I stumbled into a wonderful vet who let me pay the bill off over time. I think the bill was about $600 and I sent him $25 a month until it was paid. I was so grateful that I made him one of those needlepoints they make for various occupations. He almost cried when I gave it to him. And though that cat has long ago crossed the bridge I have never forgotten him.



I've often though about calling him and thanking him again. Anybody know a Dr. John Dwyer who practiced in Webster, NY back in the 1980s?

JamiJo

Shalamar, our Moluccan Cockatoo, was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma back in June. The vet suggested aggressive treatment so we agreed to go ahead with amputating her wing. It was inexpensive compared to the amounts mentioned in your post, but we still had folks amazed that a) we'd put our bird through the procedure and b) how much we spent on 'just a bird'.



The only moment that regret even crossed my mind was when she had complications coming out of the anesthesia - I would never have forgiven myself if her last moments were painful ones because of a choice I made. Thankfully she pulled through and is back to joyfully terrorizing the house just six weeks after the surgery.



Just like with human life, the 'too far' question always has to go to quality of life. It may be anthropomorphizing a bit too much but I firmly belive that my pets want to live just as much as I do.

Andrea 2CatMom

Ally - what you wrote is beautiful.



To anyone who ever got grief over $ spent on an animal - do not disclose what you spend on your animals. Its nobody else's business.



If you feel you must disclose and you get grief repeat the phrase "I earned the money, so I decide how its spent." Don't justify, or try to explain.



When I first adopted my cats, my Mom was very critical of the amount of money I spent on their care (Ok she was very critical of me adopting the cats). She would ask how much stuff cost, and then say something like "well you could have bought a really nice coat, or whatever with that money." So, I started repeating the mantra above.



I also think that sometimes people don't realize how insulting and innappropriate their comments are. So everytime she'd tell about something she bought, I'd tell her that she could have donated the money to hungry children in Africa, or elderly people living in poverty. She finally got the message.



Now she compliments me on how well the cats are taken care of and I compliment her on how nice her latest material acquisition is. To each their own.

Great Dane Addict

I just cried.

Eliza

Last fall my barely 6 year old Doxie/MinPinX, Hanna, was diagnosed with a liver shunt. She looked so healthy even the doctors had a hard time believing it. Hoping to keep her alive for the next 6 to 10 years, she had an operation at

U C Davis. She kept having seizures and I had to choose to end her life. It was expensive and devastating and I would spend that money again in a flash with the hope of prolonging her life.

I thought we had some insurance, but VPI said NO insurance company would pay for liver shunt surgery. Who knows?



I wish I had even 4 more months, even knowing. But there is no knowing. Every morning and evening, Hanna was there to welcome me. How could I not be there for her?



Eliza

ally

When my oldest lab, Scout, was diagnosed with mast cell tumor in '04, he was 11 years old. Prior to any extensive testing, his vet thought he had about 3 months to live. I became hysterical on the spot. How do you prepare to say good-bye to the light of your life in only 3 months?!



After many exhaustive tests (ultra sound, bone marrow extraction, etc.), his vet, oncologist and surgeon all felt Scout was an excellent candidate for surgically removing all the cancer. Had they not told me so, I wouldn’t have put him through the surgery. Like Christie, it had nothing to do with money. It had everything to do with what Scout wanted - what was dignified and respectful of his quality of life. Somehow, I came up with $6,500 to have my fur baby well and healthy. Thankfully, Scout did not require chemo or radiation.



The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience was not to selfishly think only of myself, but instead to turn it over to Scout and let him decide. In light of all he’s ever done for me, every step of the way, I told him if he felt it was his time to go, I would honor his choice. Each test I’d hold my breath awaiting the results. Each time they came back with positive results to proceed.



Last month, we lost a very dear friend & neighbor to complications following heart surgery. Both Scout & Hugh were extremely close. Every neighborhood dog loved Hugh. I called him the “dog whisperer” of our neighborhood. Both Scout and I have been grieving equal to losing a family member. I’ve been worried about Scout as he’s been off his food at times since our friend’s passing. But Scout’s rallying and we share our grief while getting through each day. Each day, I give Scout extra rump scratches and belly rubs from Hugh.



Scout will turn 14 years old on August 20th. Instead of the early prognosis of only 3 months to live, we’ve gained 3 years. Every additional day I have his beautiful furry face and warm brown eyes to gaze into is a gift. I wouldn’t trade one single penny of the $6,500 spent getting him well to hear those priceless words he had “clean margins” and was cancer free.



Scout is truly my life’s light. His heart beats right along side mine. Although each day is a gift I realize his time left on the planet isn’t long. He’s already beaten so many odds. I have no idea how I’ll get through putting him down when his time comes. I’ve never before experienced that procedure. For all Scout’s done for me, I pray I will have the courage to hold him in my arms while softly singing to him as he drifts off to sleep.



Never once have I regretted the financial sacrifice of getting Scout well. Some people told me I was nuts, that I could buy several labs with the money I spent. You can’t put a price on the relationship you share with your heart dog. I placed my trust in Scout and his choice whether or not to have the surgery. As he’s done his entire life, he stoically continued with tail wags and sloppy kisses for his human mom. He is my hero in more ways I can ever express.



I take solace in knowing that when Scout’s time comes, Hugh will be there to meet Scout at the bridge. I know beyond any doubt that together they will run fast and pain free - as it should be.

Trudy Jackson

We are in great debt in our vet bills. I have a 20 year old having surgery tomorrow on Her teeth. would I do it all again? Yes, i would.

catmom5

ARF with complications,IBD, bacterial peritonitis with complications, feeding tubes, critical care for a total of about a month, follow up testing, etc for my 11 year old cat ~ and over $10,000 in vet bills . . . and if I told my family the amount I've spent they would have me commited! However, when she curls up in bed at night and purrs me to sleep and looks at me with such love in her eyes, I know that it was well worth the time, money, nursing care and that I would do it for her again. Don't know how long she can go before the one kidney left that's functioning starts to fail, but right now I've had nearly 9 months of some really special time with her.

These truly are very special love stories, aren't they? Thanks to all for sharing them with us.

Brandi

I have never had huge vet bills from one procedure, but we have on going bills for our two CRF cats. There was never any doubt that we would do and spend anything we could to treat them. The money has never been a determining factor for me. I will continue to do everything in my power until THEY show me they are done fighting. They give so much of themselves to me, how could I not do the same for them?

catmom5

Thanks for sharing Patsy's story, thomas. She sounds like a very special dogger. If only some people were half as forgiving and loving as our animal friends this would be a much better world!

Carol

It's amazing that people will think giving a bum like Vick $130 million for tossing a football is fine. CEO's who run their companies into the ground are given megabucks for the privilege. Yet spend what someone considers "too much" on a pet and all h--- breaks loose. It's YOUR pet - you have the right to do what's best for him or her.



I haven't had to spend exorbitant $$$ on my pets for treatments but would do so in a heartbeat. My beloved Hammer died 2 years ago of bladder cancer. Really nothing could be done so I chose to let him live out the rest of his life in peace. We often sat on the front porch in the AM just peacefully enjoying the spring air with each other. People told me I should just put him down (he had arthritis, Cushing's Disease too but wasn't in pain), but I knew he wasn't ready yet. Bottom line - IT'S NOBODY'S BUSINESS BUT YOURS.



Thomas, luckily a little deaf cocker came into my life about the time Hammer died. He is my constant companion and helped me through the tough times after I lost my guy.

Gina Spadafori

I agree! When I bought the home I'm in now, I put a refrigerator on a card I almost never use. They called me to make sure it hadn't been stolen.



With all the identity theft, I appreciate the call.

ellipsisknits

psst, Laura, I think that Fritz has a good bank. They saw something that looked different from his normal spending patterns (probably found automatically by a computer), and called to check if it was real. Sometimes you get these if you go on vacation. i.e. 'you live in Minnesota, did you really drop a bunch of money on a swanky miami restaurant, or did someone steal your credit card?'

-C

Kelly O

Sometimes, I think wow, we spent a lot on our 12 yr old cairn Nana, then I look over at her...and think it was sooooo worth it. I think each situation is different. But in our case, it was only her anal gland tumour that was going to kill her by keeping her from using the bathroom. Other than that, she was fine. I just couldn't put a healthy dog down. And here we are, 7 months post surgery, probably at least $5,000 poorer (I suspect more with all the appointments but it's all I'm admitting to - LOL!) and absolutely no regrets. The love she gives every day and the joy she has in just living in the moment are worth it.

VJ

To all of you here. What magnificient tributes. Talk about crying. Makes me think about all my pets and wishing I could see and hold them one more time right now. Sometimes when I get really reflective, I 'hold' each one of them in my heart and feel I can actually 'feel' their little bodies so warm and soft. How I miss them!

The OTHER Pat

I have a stone out in my garden in remembrance of all my lost furred and feather loves that reads:



"If tears could build a stairway

And mem'ries were a lane

I'd walk right up to Heaven

And bring you home again"

explodinghed

this is a tough issue, no one answer can cover all aspects. but i have a sweet story from childhood to relate.



we never had much growing up... the family credo was, if there's a roof over your head, food in the fridge and the furnace goes on when it's cold, you have everything you need. we always had pets, and took care of them as best we could. mostly they were healthy so we rarely saw the vet



when i was about 9, we adopted a sickly kitten from neighbors with even less financial stability than we had. it became apparent pretty quickly that this poor little one had some serious issues. we brought him to the local vet.



it was a simple practice; a one-man operation with no staff. he examined the kitten and said it needed to be hospitalized because he was very dehydrated and had a serious bacterial infection, so he needed an iv drip.



he kept the kitten for 2 weeks. during that time, we could tell that our parents were concerned about the cost... less in the cart on shopping days, less pocket money for the kids, and who knows what other corners they cut to prepare for what they thought would be a whopping big bill.



when we went to collect our kitten, mom took out her checkbook and asked the vet how much we owed.



"twenty-five dollars," said the vet. now, this was a long time ago, but even then, 2 weeks of hosptalization was considerably more expensive than that.



mom asked him to be serious (he was quite the jokester).



"twenty-five dollars" he repeated.



again mom protested.



and the vet said, "when i told you that kitten needed to be hospitalized, you never once asked about the cost. a lot of people with a lot more money than you folks would have let that kitten die rather than pay for it. so i'm telling you now, it's twenty-five dollars."



and that was that. dr. aronsen was still a relatively young man when he died; but i'm sure he went directly to heaven, no questions asked.

Carol R

I had two dogs who were best friends.

Ihey both saw their vet almost monthly because of ear and other minor problems. My Alaskan Husky wet her bed a few times. Nothing major but we took her in. the doctor examined her and we had an ultrasound done the next day. she had very advanced liver cancer. We could have put her through surgery -during which she could have died-but we chose not to. Brandy lived 2 more months and died in my arms after looking deeply into my eyes.

My other dog Spartacus was a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Because of Brandy's death and his mother's death I asked he be tested. After a series of wrong diagnosises we found out that he had MegaEsophagus-IBD-and some kind of back leg problem-we didn't pursue the leg problem because of his condition when we discovered it. He lived for a year with these conditions going in and out of a specialty hospital. The last time 8 days during labor day weekend and back in two days because he couldn't eat. I had asked the vet to tell us when he thought there was nothing more to do and he called on

the Monday we brought him in to tell us-it was time. He couldn't eat anymore -a feeding tube for a dog that size was a poor choice and he couldn't live on IV. We made the choice to return that night and send him to the Rainbow Bridge. Like everyone I was hoping he would pass gently as Brandy had but it was not to be.

You can see the story of his trip to the Rainbow Bridge here:

http://carol10.com/spartacus.html.

would I spend that money again-a million times yes.

Carewolf

Carol R

If I loved you less

I would have tried to make you stay

Would have closed my eyes to your pain

And ignored it was “Your Fine Day”





Would have told myself there’s always tomorrow

Held you in my arms and not let you go

Avoided all the signs you were sending me

Told myself when it was time I would know







But my precious I loved you so much

I did what was best for you not me

Knowing the agony that I would endure

The time had come to set you free







Aware this was the last time I'd hold you

The last time to show you my love

I laid by you feeling your softness

Until the time for you to go above







I tried to hide the pain I felt

To hold back the tears in my eyes

When I saw that you were at peace

I clung to you and began to cry.







My tears could fill a river

They just continue to flow

When does this grieving end?

Does anyone really know?







©~~Carol Ross~~aka~~Care Wolf

March 21, 2006-2007



http://carol10.com/spartacus.html

Marilyn

It has been my good fortune and blessing to love and be loved by some of the most beautiful souls imaginable - my furchildren. I have not counted the dollars spent on their care, but it is a substantial amount. We have treated heartworm in abandoned pups; spinal surgery for chronic runaway who finally settled on our home; FeLeuk, FIV; through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy we gained 8 months of remission and quality time from oral malignant melanoma before it metastisized; bladder surgery times 3 (calcium oxalate stones), Cushings disease, hermorrhagic gastroenteritis, mitral valve prolapse.....

I, too, prefer to spend it on life as opposed to automobiles. I do not take issue with others who spend their money on material things - it's their money - but I sure do wish that more people would respect the choices of those of us who value the lives of our critters above material acquisition.

Kim Campbell Thornton

I spent many thousands on Miss Darcy last year and would do it all over again and more. If you had told me there was a cure in Timbuktu, I would have flown her there first class. It drives me crazy when my neighbor complains about the $100 here or $300 there he has to spend on his sweet aging Bichon and says it's not worth it. So far, I have managed to refrain from knocking him upside the head.

Julie

As a child I was severely traumatized by having several dogs die one being hit by a car,one by distemper,and one by hookworms.I am 59 years old.In my childhood,they did not have all of these marvelous treatments and medicines. So I always want to go the full course,however it seems that you have to stop somewhere unless you are a millionaire.One of our dogs had Cushings disease and died of subsequent cancer.We are still paying off her bill and it means we do not have as much money to spend on our present pets and if a catastrophe happens with them we probably will not be able to do the same for them as we did for the other dog,but if I was rich I would spend however much I could until there was absolutely no hope left.

Dana

What beautiful and heartfelt stories all have shared here! And I too join in saying, it's not the money it's the quality of life for our friends. Years ago fresh out of college and beginning a new career I purchased my first dog, already had 2 cats. A few years later I purchased another dog. What wonderful years of joy with all of them, but alas one developed cancer requiring extensive chemo and surgeries, and then the other fell ill requiring numerous tests and procedures. Both died within 6 months of each other, and my savings were depleted. But? I would do it all again and more to see them happy and having a "good" life. Our last few months together were heartbreaking (for us humans) but the dogs did well. Fast forward many years later, a dog and a cat being treated with kidney failure-nothing would stop me from doing all I can to give them a good quality of life, afterall they've given me so much-what's a few bucks for all that love?

Diana Guerrero

When my dog's tumor was misdiagnosed--it was a shock to find out that it was not benign. At the time I was displaced and frantically searched for help...there are groups that can help with such needs and they did.



The efforts bought me a year. The euthanasia took place at my home, it was the worst day of my life but he was calm and ready.



Today, if you can get it--pet insurance can help some. I still mean to get some funds to those agencies whose names and contact information remain in storage with some of my pal's favorite things.

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