Friday, May 11, 2007

or should we just bypass the middle man and flush my wallet directly down the toilet?

I could tell that Cooper was feeling better when I got home from work this morning and saw that she was trying to eat Cal's feet. Or, to be slightly more precise, she was trying to eat Cal's breakfast, of which a not insignificant fraction had, in usual fashion, fallen through the cracks of the high chair to cluster on Cal's footrest. Her tail was back up, and wagging. Her ears were perky. And, despite the fact that she was still leaving gooey little Hershey Kisses wherever she sat on the floor (please don't try to visualize that image--oh, too late) she hadn't had an actual bowel movement, bloody or otherwise, since the afternoon before. Whatever the problem had been, it seems that the gut rest and ye olde tincture of time was working.

Now the question is this. I made a vet appointment for tomorrow anyway. Should I still take her? Before the animal rights activists and mother-in-laws of the earth show up at my door with their pitchforks and torches ("YOU'RE KILLING THE DOG!") let me just walk you though this reasoning. Back when I was a Peds resident and working in the ER, I promised myself that when I had a kid, I would not bring that kid to the ER unless they were half-dead or had a damn fencepost sticking out of their chest, because I knew that outside of very specific situations, there wasn't all that much that doctors in the ER could do for run of the mill problems. The worst thing in the world was picking up that chart of the basically well kid with gastro who had been waiting to be seen for six hours, only to tell them to take small amounts of clear fluids and send them on their way. I felt bad, because the parents clearly wanted to walk away with something (a prescription, an injection, an x-ray, something substantial), but all I ended giving them, and all that was probably due to be given, was just a small dose of common sense. In addition, consider that we have no pet health insurance (does anyone? Probably some people out there do, though I don't know where you would purchase it), and a visit to the vet could easily run $200. A blood test here, a urinalysis there, some sort of inscrutable fee for god-knows-what, it all adds up and, with the exception of the mandatory vaccinations, basically amounts to nothing.

(An aside about our vet practice. I like our vet. We go to a clinic in Chelsea which looks almost exactly like a nice private clinic for humans--modern decor, flattering lighting, attractive receptionist, Ivy League diplomas prominently displayed. But every time we go, we (read: Joe) ends up buying something we don't really need to buy. For those unfamiliar with New York, Chelsea is a neighborhood where there are a number of high income households in which pets have subsumed the traditional roles of children. This vet practice, located in the heart of Chelsea, caters to this population. Our vet is certified in animal acupuncture, OK? So anyway, the vet clinic also sells a lot of "wellness" products, be they special organic dog treats or vacuum packed dog food made from free range buffalo carpaccio (100% buffalo! No additives!) or very extra special chewable vitamin tablets that will not only make your dog live 65% longer, but also add extra body and shine to their fur and enable them to learn math skills up to a fifth grade level. When the vet people try to sell me this stuff I usually decline and ask them to just GIVE US THE RABIES SHOT ALREADY, but Joe somehow always gets snookered into buying something, I think because he doesn't want the clinic staff to think that gay people take better care of their dogs than we do.)

OK, so anyway, I don't want to bring Cooper to the vet if there's nothing wrong with her that we can't fix ourselves. I mean, obviously. However, given that she ate treats that were recalled because they were made with (possibly) contaminated wheat gluten, wouldn't it be negligent not to get her checked if she were at all not feeling well? On the other hand, she had diarrhea, and as some have pointed out, renal failure is the usual major cause of morbidity and mortality due to melamine contamination. (I believe that the melamine, which is basically harmless in and of itself, reacts with another additive in the commercial pet food, leading the precipitation in the renal tubules, blah blah science blah.) So given that Cooper basically had no signs of renal failure, is it really worth it to get all hepped up about these treats, which she didn't eat every day anyway, and which we've since trashed? On the other other hand, how can you tell if a dog has renal failure? Anorexia? Lethargy? She had those symptoms. On the other other other hand (how many hands do I get here?) she's better now. Is it worth it getting her checked out just for peace of mind? Or just a waste and a violation of the common sense rule that I myself invoked?

I guess we have until tomorrow afternoon to decide. Meanwhile, we're slowly ramping up Cooper's diet again, before she gets so hungry that she decides to eat the rest of our son.

* * *

I pass by this ad almost every day on my way home from work:

Of all the great mysteries of life (Stonehenge, the lost colony at Roanoke, the hidden staircase), perhaps the greatest one for me is how Nicolas Cage is regarded as a sex symbol. The man looks like the missing link, for chrissake.


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