We were sitting down at a fancy restaurant for our early Valentine’s Day dinner when we got the call. We had taken Otis to the vet earlier that day for a general exam and to get x-rays done; when the doctor showed us the result of the x-rays at the office, she pointed out a big, round thing in his stomach area, but she didn’t know what it was, so she said she would get a second opinion and call us later to let us know what she found out. Unfortunately for me, I missed the doctor’s call and had to listen to her voicemail instead to find out the news: Otis had a foreign object in his stomach (it was most likely a rock), and he needed to have surgery as soon as possible to get it taken out. She also mentioned that the surgery, paired with his neutering appointment, would be a big expense.
I immediately told Chris what I had heard in the voicemail, then called the vet back so I could get more details on the surgery and how much it would cost exactly. No answer. This left me and Chris to try and answer our own questions and make our own assumptions. How in the world did he swallow a rock and when? Was it with us or his previous owner? When the doctor said the surgery would be a big expense, how big were we talking? Chris and I started to think worst case scenario: what if this surgery cost $5,000 or more? That wouldn’t even include the potential surgery he might need on his knee in the future. Were we willing to go into debt for this dog we had only known for six weeks?
“What if we can’t afford this surgery? As much as I hate to say this, we’re probably going to have to take Otis to a shelter.” Chris said.
My eyes started to water right there at the dinner table. “We can’t do that to Otis. He is so sweet and loving, he doesn’t deserve to be abandoned again.” Tears started to stream down my face.
Chris reached for my hand from across the table, “It’s really sweet how attached you are to him after such a short amount of time.”
Sometimes you have to hear someone else say something outloud for it to click in your head. Chris was right, I had grown attached to Otis in a short amount of time, so much that I was crying in public at the thought of losing him.
Chris and I agreed to stick to more light-hearted topics during the rest of our dinner and not freak ourselves out anymore until we talked to the doctor the next day. That didn’t stop me from crying when we got home, though. I didn’t want to take Otis to a shelter and I didn’t want him to have to have such a serious surgery, not just because it would be expensive, but because I was scared for him. Once I talked to the doctor and got more details about Otis’ surgery, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders: the surgery was only going to cost us around $1,300. That was way more doable than $5,000 or more. I scheduled Otis’ surgery for the following week and rejoiced in the fact that we weren’t going to lose our little guy.
Otis had his surgery yesterday to get the rock removed and get neutered. I cried when I dropped him off at the vet and cried when I picked him up and saw him with surgical wounds on his body and a cone around his neck, but thankfully, all went well. As expected, Otis isn’t feeling 100% right now, so Chris and I are playing nurse to get him back to his old, happy, energetic self. Once he’s all healed, Chris and I plan to take him to lots of fun dog parks and finally get him signed up for obedience classes where he will make lots of new doggy friends!
I never grew up with pets, so I never understood what it was like to care for or love one. I never understood why some people posted so many pics of their cats on Instagram, took their dog everywhere, or took it so hard when their pet passed away. But now I know. Pets are friends. Pets are companions. Pets are family. They look out for us, cheer us up when we’re sad, and love us unconditionally. Now that I know what it’s like to care for and love a pet, I understand what my fellow pet owners feel now. I cried while reading a blog post a friend wrote about the death of her dog. I got angry when my co-worker told me about how her neighbor stole her dog out of her own backyard. That bond, that love. I get it now.
As for my own dog, well, his health isn’t as good as we believed it to be, and he has cost us over $1000 in medical bills so far, but I still love him to death and will do whatever I can to make sure he lives a long, healthy life. Even though Otis isn’t perfect, I’m still glad we found him so we can give him better care than his last owner did. He’s the cutest, sweetest, most loving dog I’ve ever met, and he deserves all the love and attention in the world.