Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thousand dollar dog, or, check their teeth,

He's our third Cody.

The first Cody was a cat I had since he was weaned (along with his calico sister Clea) until he died when he was 14. That had seemed like such an original name in 1987.

A week after Riser died just over a year ago I took in another golden retriever in a moment of weakness. His name was Cody and I returned him to the rescuer after a month. We went from the best-behaved dog in the world to the worst. Someone with the right amount of patience, time, and a fenced yard could probably still make a really good dog out of him. I am not that person.

The boys started badgering for a dog again in the fall. We applied to a couple of golden retriever rescue organizations, but nothing was happening. When the kids got particularly bothersome I told them to check the Humane Society website. When they sorted the list of animals by the criteria "good with cats", "good with kids", "affectionate", "comes when called" two dogs came up. One of them named Cody.

Well, I guess we'll never have a problem remembering our animals' names. Connor had chosen the name "Sheila" for the cat because it sounded similar to "Clea". So now whenever I have to use the two of their names in a sentence I'm stumbling and saying "Cody and Clea" instead of "Cody and Sheila". Maybe we should just rename the cat.

As for my advice in the title, if you're adopting a dog from a shelter, take a look at their back teeth. The ones that are hardest to get a look at. I'd noticed that his teeth were pretty tartared, and the Humane Society vet had noted that too. But they did not note what my regular veterinarian and I found upon his check-up/rabies shot yesterday. He has two infected teeth, one of them loose, and another one broken. Wa-a-a-ay in the back. Estimate? $750.

The HS had given us a 'gift' of one month of pet insurance. I checked their website and was disappointed to see that they don't cover dental work. My expectations weren't high that they would. I need to call the HS back and ask them what they would have done had we not been able to afford this and had to give him back (not that this is going to happen. This is not loose change for us, and we're swallowing pretty hard, but there is no way my kids would ever surrender that dog now. They've fallen hard.). (In addition, when I read over this guy's fact and history sheet, along with the comments about what a big gentle lover of a dog he is, the prior owner had only had him 2 years--he's 8. And, they'd gotten him from the Humane Society! And they had been the third owners! We're the fourth! Oh my goodness. This dog, it's true, is an exceedingly gentle-tempered dog. And very loving. He must have really suffered to go through all these ownership changes and trips to the HS. Even if my kids didn't love him it would be cruel to give him back.)

So, including a fee to put a hold on him so we could go see him, the adoption fee, and yesterday's check-up/shots bill, we're about to spend $1100 on a dog we've had a week today. I scheduled the dental surgery for today. It occurs to me that he must be in pain--his mouth really did look awful. And to think that he may be in pain and yet still such a sweet animal--well, it just seemed urgent to do.

They wanted him there at 8:30. I told them I'd be a little late since I had to take Scott to his school first. But in the school multi-purpose room was a screen featuring live feed from the inauguration. Michelle Obama had just come out with their daughters. Well, there was no way I could miss the swearing-in of the first African American president of the United States. So I called the vet to see if I could wait to bring Cody in just long enough to see the oath of office. This is the first inauguration I've seen in 12 years; I simply could not bear the last two.

I wonder if I would have been able to feel that heightened anticipation that was palpable in the school auditorium between Biden's swearing in and Obama's had I been out somewhere and not watching in a roomful of people. It felt like a collective holding of breath in those seconds just before it was Obama's turn.

After 9/11 I sensed for a period of time, all too brief, afterward a softness, and thoughtfulness in Americans. People across the country were reaching out to each other--to people they hadn't talked to in years, maybe had been estranged from. It's a tragedy that Moment was wasted. I sense another Moment here, where people are hopeful, inspired, filled with humility and desire to serve. I so hope this moment won't be lost...they are rare and precious. I think as Americans our ability to be good citizens in this world depends on the wise channeling of the energy of Moments like these.


Mrs. Spit said...

I feel your pain. We are 2k into Maggie's teeth, and 5k into delta's tummy.

He's a sweet looking boy.

excavator said...

Hi, Mrs. Spit!

Shortly after we first got Riser she developed an eye problem that needed treatment. Since it was childhood when I'd last owned a dog, I was astounded that every visit was costing about $100.

I commented about this to my book reading group--all devoted pet owners and no children--and they laughed at me.

Har dee har har.

The bright side is that we're definitely committed to this dog, and it appears that he's very healthy, now that the teeth are addressed.

But I'm still stunned that right off the bat we've spent money I don't think I'd have ever spent before on a vet bill.

Douglas W said...

What do you do in a situation like this? My daughter spent a similar amount on her cat recently.

As for the Obama inauguration... I sense a new mood of optimism. And about time! I was particularly impressed by his call to people to be more community minded. Not to just assume that somebody else will fix it, but to get out there and start fixing it themselves.

I now turn the radio up when I hear his voice... I had taken to turning it off completely if I heard Bush's unintelligible utterings.

I am about to have a book created from some of my European images... a preview can be seen here... Europe 2008.

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