You always can hear my dog Bam coming even if you can’t see him. He has started to not pick up his back legs when he walks. Instead, he scuffs them wherever he goes. It is particularly noticeable as I don’t have carpet in the house.
Having had a previous boxer, Charlie who had Degenerative Myelopathy or DM for short, my first thought was “uh oh, Bam has DM. This is the end”. I took him into my vet and after getting x-rays, it was determined he has Lumbosacral Disease. Hold up! What the heck is that? I didn’t see this coming at all! Lumbosacral Disease is the narrowing of the spinal canal which puts pressure on the nerves exiting the spine. This may be caused by disc herniation, infection, trauma, a congenial malformation or arthritis. Arthritis is suspected to be the culprit in Bam’s case. If left untreated, Bam could cry in pain if pressure is put on his hind end, he may fall, slowly rise from a laying position, become incontinent or mutilate his tail and back feet from incessant chewing.
The vet recommended a high dose of meds to see if that would help any inflammation and to see if we saw any change. We did the course and no change. We then decided an MRI is needed to further investigate the situation and probably surgery would give him quality of life. He is only 8 years old. He could live healthily for several more years, pain free. The closest place to get an MRI is Washington State University. I made the call. The MRI alone will cost about $3,000. Surgery will cost an additional $3000. Holy crap! $6000 for the process! He would also stay at WSU for a week after surgery to recover. Oh my gosh! This is nuts. I will need to take 3 days off of work to get the MRI and surgery done. It just gets better and better. I said I would get back with them as I needed to digest this information. $6000!!! Six bloody, rotten, hard earned thousand dollars!!!!! Honestly, I don’t have 6k laying around not earmarked for anything. Just a mere 6k I won’t miss. I work hard for every penny. I don’t have an inheritance even though both parents are dead. I don’t have a rich husband or any husband for that matter, much less a companion who is Daddy Warbucks. I had to stop and contemplate my next move. What was I going to do with my Bamarama? He is my LOVE! MY BOY!!! UGH!
My heart was breaking. I am not a quick decision maker. I need to roll it around. I need to think of every scenario, every downside, every upside, every possible outcome that could ever exist before I make a decision. I can either keep him comfortable until his end of days and fight the feeling of guilt about not taking the option to give him a longer, happy life or scrape together somehow which I don’t know how yet $6,000 and roll the dice. As I mentioned before I think of every outcome. One of my thoughts was, “oh sure, you will spring for the surgery and then come home to find out he is diagnosed with cancer and he will end up dying in six months.” He is a boxer so cancer isn’t really a far stretch. Back to reality, anything could happen so stop worrying about the what ifs. Pay or don’t pay? Pay or don’t pay? After much mulling over, I got to thinking about how scrappy I am. I mean SCRAPPY! I will do what it takes to get where I need to go! I will learn it, build it, paint it, weld it, laminate it, shoot it, dig it or whatever else needs to be done to get where I need to go. So I got to thinking. What could I do? First thought...Christmas photos. Tis the Season, and I have done photosets a plenty so make another. It won’t make $6000 but it will make a little.
I will sell my wedding ring. Remember, I ‘m not married, but I do have a wedding ring. It means nothing to me so now is my chance to turn it into something that means a great deal to me. Hock that rock and let it help my precious boy! I won’t get a lot for it, but maybe a little.
I have two saddles my mom used when she was alive. Clean them up and sell them. I was going to do it anyway so do it now. I won’t make a lot as they are used and older but they are still in good condition so I may make a little. A little + a little + a little, will get me closer to my 6k goal. A little on the credit card and a little cash. I may just be able to swing this. You may be thinking this blog post is wrapping up. Oh no, my friend, we just got started. What I got to thinking about next makes me appreciate my experiences. What this blog post is really about, is what about the people who can’t pay? They either choose to not treat their animal or maybe they will relinquish it to a shelter or rescue. They may rehome the animal. Are they bad? Are they mean? Are they despicable? Are they the scum of the earth? I have heard over and over again in various situations, “They should never have owned dogs!” or “If they can’t pay, they never should have gotten a dog” or “I would go homeless before ever giving up my dog”.
There are great stigmas surrounding people giving up their pets with medical needs. Here I was with a dog with medical needs and I was contemplating what I should do. What I could do? Am I despicable? Am I scum? I can tell you right now if I had to choose between paying my mortgage or saving my dog, I would pay the mortgage. Go ahead and shoot your daggers. Keyboard warriors, I just gave you something to write about. Gasp! One quick question before you fire off that message. Have you been homeless? Homelessness scares the crap out of me as I once faced the real threat of it in my life. I don’t wish for anyone to be homeless nor do I wish for anyone to have to make the decision to give up their pet.
However, I totally understand not everyone has a master’s degree like I do. Not everyone had my handy Grandpa who inspired me to make things work. Inspired me to look at junk and know I could make something out of it just like the boards that make up my Christmas backdrop. Those I got from the side of the road, sanded them down and added stained. Viola, a backdrop and a beautiful one at that! Thanks Grandpa Nilles!