Notice I don’t say how much will you spend on your pet; only how much you imagine you’d be comfortable spending. Chances are what you will spend, one day, is a far cry from what you think you ought to spend.
In 2017, Americans will spend — hang onto your hat — some sixty-nine BILLION dollars on their pets! This counts expenses all across the “pet industry,” from kibble to collars to that pricey stay in the doggy ER.
The average cost of a visit to one of those high-powered 24-hour veterinary hospitals is not easy to find: apparently this is a closely kept secret. If you look at Yelp reviews of the many such facilities in Phoenix, you see, more than once, people stating they were asked to front $1,300 just to get the animal in the door.
Diagnostic costs alone can run a couple thousand dollars, AARP observes. Prices accrue from there. Treating your cat’s bladder stones will set you back a mere $1,850, as nothing compared to the $3,290 for a dog’s ruptured knee ligament or the $7,000 to fix a busted-up leg.
Americans will start out, this year, ponying up $2.01 billion just to purchase their 2017 pets. Food will cost us $26.7 billion, followed by a distant $16.6 billion for veterinary care.
And that doesn’t count the lawyers. Did you realize some law schools now offer courses in animal law, wherein budding attorneys can learn how to handle pet custody in divorce cases? This doesn’t even touch the dog bite cases, the dog excavation of the neighbor’s property cases, the dog assassination of rabbits, chickens and sheep, the HOA squabbles over the hordes of loose cats…
And lest you think Americans are the only pet-happy nut cases out there, some 41 percent of Australians say they always take their dogs on vacation with them.
So the question is, when your dog or cat or bird or goldfish is dangerously ill or injured and may very well not recover, are you willing to bet on the come that maybe if you throw enough money at the problem the animal will recover?
When is it better — or is it ever better — to throw in the chips and put the critter to sleep than to persist in the search for a cure?
Got no idea, I’ll tellya, how much my son spent on the present episode with Charley. He refused to tell me, but knowing regular vets, I’m guessing $500 to $800 for the vet in Show Low, about $200 for the ordinary vet down here, and something upwards of $4,000 for the four days in the 24-hour doggy hospital. A great deal of drastic effort was spent on treating Charley the Golden Retriever. But IMHO the vet who saved his life was the guy in Show Low. All the rest of it has been additional acts in the opera. I suspect that if Charley had simply been brought home from the Show Low encounter and allowed to rest, the outcome would have been similar or identical.
On the other hand… Probably unnoticed by my ultra-stressed son, it’s pretty clear the Show Low vet did not believe Charley would survive, and in repeatedly expressing that concern to M’hijito, he was signaling (in coded language) that he thought they should put the dog down. When the outcome in fact was survival, he admitted that he was very surprised. And when you look this stuff up, you have to allow: the guy was right.
Except that he was NOT right about the etiology of what ailed the dog. He thought the cause was exposure to high heat and suspected my son had left the dog locked in a hot car.
This was not true. In fact, what he was dealing with was fear- or stress-induced hyperthermia. While the potential outcome is similar, possibly the same, what was really going on was different. The animal was never exposed to unduly high heat: in fact, the interior of the vehicle was rather cold. So you could look at it this way: rather than an assault from the exterior by heat and sunlight, the animal was generating heat from the interior, which must have been dissipating into the highly air-conditioned chill of the vehicle. So, while obviously hyperthermia was stressing the animal’s system, it probably was taking longer than the vet calculated to inflict damage.
That is why, without a doubt, the dog survived. He survived something different from what the vet thought was afflicting him. Whatever the etiology, though, the only known treatment was the same, and in applying it, the Show Low vet saved the animal’s life.
Will Charley fully recover?
That remains to be seen. Each day he is a tiny bit better: he gets up a little more easily, he lays back down a little more easily, he walks a tiny bit more normally. He’s eating well, drinking generous amounts of water, and excreting normally.
If this continues, my guess is that over time he will recover most of his functioning. I doubt if he’ll ever be normal again — though yeah, miracles do happen. More likely after six, eight, ten weeks he’ll come back more or less to normal, and then he’ll spend the rest of his life as the equivalent of an elderly dog. But that’s better than being dead.
The drama from the outset: