This story is getting a lot of negative internet attention. The young woman sounds immature, yet she thinks she is a good provider, because she was sufficiently emotional and paid money to bring her dog to the vet for expensive high-end treatments, instead of taking more common sense approaches.
As an adult, I got my dogs from rescue organizations, secretly judging friends who bought theirs from breeders.
For a long time, it was a point of pride for me. When I brought home Mookie in 2000, everyone told me how lucky I was to find such a sweet animal. The 18-pound Boston terrier mix adored every person he met. He chased frogs in my condo complex and loved to play with stuffed animals. He was more loyal and loving—not to mention happier to see me—than any of my dates.
When my job kept me in the office for long hours, I decided to get Mookie a buddy, Yogi. I loved him deeply. But just six months after adoption, Yogi was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t balk at the expense and time it took to drag him to oncology appointments to treat his lymphoma. The chemo was supposed to buy me an extra year with him. Considering a dog’s average lifespan, that could mean 10 percent of his life.
And Yogi defied the odds. He hung on for nearly three years before passing away. I didn’t handle his death well. Just three weeks later, I replaced him with a pug named Clarence.
Poor, simple-minded Clarence. He frequently planted himself halfway through the doggie door, unable to decide between sunbathing on the patio and sleeping under the air conditioning vent. Every time I came home, he cried as if I were a soldier returning from war.
Clarence looked like Yogi, but the only thing they had in common was a penchant for serious health issues. I kept telling myself that at least Clarence didn’t have cancer. But his problems were almost worse. His epilepsy was difficult to control, and the phenobarbital he took to subdue his seizures caused weight gain, liver deterioration and anxiety. I got tired of veterinary specialists focusing on the fact that he was fat rather than helping me figure out how to get the dog to sleep at night.
Weight gain in a small creature really does
affect their health -- you're asking the frame to carry extra pounds, which puts more effort into walking and moving, which can affect the daily elimination process, and strain the joints and tendons. If multiple vets tell you your pet needs to lose weight: there just might be something scientific there, particularly if you're feeding them a lot of rich, "people food"...
Instead of buying pills and paying for more and more visits and treatments, why not try the simple remedy, like regulating diet and spending more time and attention letting them be animals: running, rolling, resting, eating simple, and drinking as much water as they can.
I've always praised Buddy when he's lapping away at the water bowl, while we're together in the kitchen: "Good boy, Buddy, drinking his water! Buddy is a smart dog; Buddy is a strong dog; Buddy is a good dog; Buddy is the buddy-boy dog!" He knows the repetition by now, he seems to like the praise, and he seems to drink longer when he's encouraged.*
He likes river water, lake water, and this year, I've seen him lapping at large puddles, and you know what? Since there's no oil sheen, and it's fresh, clean-looking rainwater, I let him. Just for a short time, when we're out -- he's obviously thirsty, and I like to think most dogs are smarter than us about what they're willing to ingest. If it smells bad, or is stagnant, their instinct is to turn away. They're animals (as are we, really) and their instincts are very often sharper than ours.
I couldn't imagine giving Phenobarbital to an 18-pounder, without considering what toll that would take on the rest of its body. Common sense. I also wonder, like so many of the mentally ill boys whose families have the wealth to provide toys like high-powered guns and cars, if time, time, time
, and more directed hands-on, individualized attention would not help some of these animals and children.
It sounds to me like this woman didn't much treat her animals like dogs. More like toys, or playthings. Nothing wrong with being a dog. With meeting their basic animal needs. Do they really like playing "dress up", more than once or twice, do you think? Do you see that in the feral animal kingdom? Do you take into account your dogs' daily needs -- walking, waiting while he sniffs and marks, getting him off lease to sprint and play, chase other animals who have their own safety defenses (up the tree, in the air, into the water) -- if they can be in a full sprint, drop and roll on their backs, then back on the feet again racing to catch up with you, all the time with the tongue out, the eyes alight, and I swear, a smile on their canine faces... that's a happy healthy animal!
Too often, young women seem to want a pet as a step up from Teddy Bears, and kind of a baby substitute. Nope, they're animals. Just like us. With basic physical needs (pooping daily, nutritious foods, fresh air, healthy circulation, rest.)
If you can't give them this,
then spending all the money in the world to fix the problems caused by the lack of basics doesn't mean you're a responsible owner. It means, perhaps, there's no so much wrong with dogs adopted from shelters as it is the quality of care you're providing in the home. You have to be open to that possibility though -- that it's you, not all of them -- and clearly this woman's ego is not yet there:
As a lifelong dog lover, I know how to care for sick and struggling animals better than most. I accepted my dogs as they were, enjoying their sweetness and suffering through their problems. But just because I was willing to do that doesn’t mean it’s my life’s work to heal every sick, helpless animal.
Adopting a shelter dog is a lot of work, and it’s a gamble, especially for those who aren’t responsible enough or don’t have the time and resources (emotional and financial) to devote to the animal.
I got news for her: even a purchased pet needs an owner (not a parent) with common sense of caring for animals, who are not playthings or mini-people.
* You know what? They're eager to please. I used to run him and run him
early on, when Mal pointed out to me, "Mary, take it easy. He'll go and
go and go to keep up with you, even if he's tired and should rest. He
love you and just wants to make you happy. He'll exhaust himself if you let him."
Point taken. I eased up,
and started to take his needs and timing into account. Like smart
parents seem to do in planning activities for young children. Set limitations. Understand their routines and physical needs. Then, you'll likely spend less money and time at the vets, especially if you can get over the mentality that "just paying a lot in doctor/vet bills = the best care, responsible ownership."