Monday, June 25, 2012

Why My Dog Needs Single Payer Health Insurance

My husband and I used to happily comment that we loved other people's dogs.

We don't need one ourselves.
So much work.
They're like another kid.

Now that I have a dog, I realize, I was absolutely right.

Except for the bit about needing a dog.

Little Sebago.

She's a great little dog. She learns fast, is quiet and mellow, great with the kids, and falls asleep about 8pm every night.

A month after we brought her home, she broke her knee. Running around the house as if it were a NASCAR track. A month to heal while we kept her "quiet".

That was a little problematic.

A few months later, we enjoyed an early spring. J and the kids took the dog to a park to run around. She found something to slash open her front leg with. Initially the vet thought it wasn't that bad a cut, but it went all the way down to the bone.

Being an incredibly persistent dog (perhaps that's why I empathize with her?) she figured out how to use her Cone of Shame to gouge and scratch at her wound.

We called this the Elizabethan Embarrassment. It worked briefly. Then she figured out how to get her muzzle under it to pull off her bandage. Much to our great relief, once she was able to lick the wound, she left it alone more and eventually it healed.

On the first really hot day of the spring, I took her to play with a dog friend. They found some water and Sebago emerged with her front leg bleeding. Again. This time we were thrifty and bound it up ourselves.

She pulled the bandage right off. We replaced it. She removed it. I mentioned she was persistent, right? It managed to heal without a vet visit.

About a month later, J asked me if Sebago was limping. I watched her at the dog park. Yes. On the leg she'd broken. Then on the other leg. I got cross eyed watching.

The vet agreed. Both legs. An x-ray the next week confirmed that the pins and wire put in to hold her knee together had shifted as she grew into her full size. It evidently cut off circulation to a small bone in her knee and it disappeared. Yes, disappeared.

The other back knee has its own problem, which the vet explained along the lines of bones failing to fuse, which it should have done at her age. At least that's what I think he said. He used terms like "OCD" and "osteocircumpherence" and "arthriticular" in contexts that I didn't understand. I began humoring him after a while, "Oh, right." "Of course not." "Will she need anti-anxiety meds for her OCD?"

I didn't say that last part. He clearly had no idea what OCD means to the rest of the world.

His real answer was: he has no idea what is going on there. We agreed the best treatment would be to give her the dog version of Tylenol every other day.

This was very liberating. I was feeling great about my limpy dog. I even started to call her Limpy affectionately, like the characters in 'Fried Green Tomatoes' call their kid 'Stumpy' when he lost his hand in an accident. Or maybe it was 'Lefty'?

Yesterday she stopped wagging. Entirely. I felt her tail. There seemed to be a bulge followed by a limp tail. Speaking of Limpy. It just dropped to the floor when I let go.

I felt sick. We broke her tail. One of us must have stepped on it. Or shut it in a door. Or the cat finally had her revenge and gnawed on it when Sebago was sleeping and it has gangrene.

I posted my newest heartbreak on Facebook. A friend responded with a cheap diagnosis ("Swimmer's Tail" which I keep typing as "Swimmer's Tale"). A google search confirmed that since she learned to swim the day before I noticed the problem, most likely she strained her butt muscles. Treatment: the same pain killer she uses for her gimpy legs.

I happily anticipate that she will be the butt of many a joke for the next few weeks.

Today she wagged at me.

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