Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Doggy Debt

How much is your pet worth to you?

As a closet country boy (I grew up 13 miles from town and my closest neighbor was about a mile away), I’ve been instilled with a practical mindset when it comes to animals. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely cried when I watched “Marley and Me,” but I can’t help laughing at those owners who treat their pets like spoiled children. In fact, until this year, I’ve never actually paid money for a pet (Let me rephrase that. I’ve never paid for a dog or a cat. I’ve paid minor fees for a ferret, a parakeet, a short-tailed opossum, a ball python, and many fish). Maybe that’s where I went wrong…

Six months ago, my wife and I traveled to the bustling metropolis of Hopewell, MO to adopt our first child. Within twenty minutes, we made a $250 contribution to Hopewell’s micro-economy and walked away with a boxer puppy named Luna. Since then, we’ve enjoyed all the adventures a puppy affords. She’s relieved herself on the kitchen floor, pulled over my gas grill to use the grill cover as a blanket, chewed up every wire and cable unlucky enough to fall into her jaws, and destroyed her dog bed within 5 minutes of having it. We love our little ball of destruction.

And therein lies the trouble.

What amount of money is too much to spend on a pet? If your dog needs a $10,000 surgery, would you pay it without feeling some guilt? What about the hopeless victims of America’s recession? Wouldn’t they appreciate a cut of that ten grand? So where do we draw the line? How do we put a price on a loved one’s life?

For me, apparently the line isn’t at a $225 vet bill. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but let me explain. My wife was running with Luna on a recent Saturday and a bigger dog attacked Luna. Of course, the owner tried justifying the actions of his hellhound (and the fact that he didn’t have it on a leash), but the end result was a half-dollar-sized hole in Luna’s chest and not a scratch on the other dog. And now for the decisions.

As an outpatient physical therapist, I have about as much first aid experience as a seasoned SAHM (stay at home mom). So, naturally, I considered shaving the area and suturing or steri-stripping the wound myself. I also thought about calling in a favor from one of my physician acquaintances. Both options had merit, but I shot down the first because I knew she needed antibiotics anyway and the second because they would still have to anesthetize Luna to sew her up. The last option was to wait until Monday to take her, which would have still cost money, but significantly less.

In the end, I decided to feverishly rush her to the vet on call and pay out the wazoo for a few square knots. Why? Because I love her.

“It seems my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

So what would you have done? How much have you spent on your pet? How much would you be willing to spend?

Don't let the old picture fool you. She's 50 pounds now.

Chicks dig scars...Too bad she's a girl.


  1. Poor baby! I have never had to test this theory. Though I recently had to go with my parents to put down my 16 year old childhood pup. And while I was not the one footing the bill, I would like to think that I would have stretched my wallet countless ways if it could have made a difference. Theory and practice are very different things. But I will say that our pets become a valuable part of our family and our money tends to gravitate to the things we love. (Well, except for normal bills. I don't love my mortgatge company but I do love having a home for my children. You get my drift.) So I reckon' (a little country slang for ya) if something can be done, It'd be hard to hold back the green.

  2. I agree, Amy. I never thought this would be a moral conundrum (I'm aware this isn't technically the correct usage of the word, but it's a fun word. Deal with it). Update: Luna pulled a stitch...back to the vet we go.

  3. Hey Mr. Winch, how goes your writing?

    1. Well hello, sir! Things are good. Thanks for asking. I'm about to wrap up the first draft on my second novel. It's a YA paranormal. In general, I'm trying to write somewhere around 1,000 words a day, and I USUALLY stick to it...usually. My fantastic critique group keeps me pretty honest.
      Splickety magazine (an imprint of Written World Communications) published one of my short stories a couple months ago, so that was exciting.
      How about yourself? I haven't stopped by your blog in a couple months, so I'm a little out of the loop.

  4. Wow, that's great you're writing so much! And on your second novel!

    I'm doing good. Just now getting started on a new sci-fantasy novel. I've been totally busy with my two boys and haven't done much writing these past two years. But I'm finally getting going again. It feels GREAT!

    And my new novel is out, "After the Cross". So that's exciting too :)