Sunday, April 09, 2006

Million Dollar Baby

OK, not really. As far as pets go she's been middling expensive and as far as dogs go she's been a downright bargain thus far. Really!

Last week's trip to the vet was truly more an example of how I should never try to estimate costs of anything ever than an example of the cost of having a dog in the city.

Usually we go to the vet once a year for a check up/heartworm/flea thing and every other year or so we go one other time for some kind of hemoglobin in the digestion related issue. The regular check up runs between $95 and $125. Chili and I were talking about it a day or two before the check up and it went a little like this:

Chili: So how much is this going to run you?

Me (with the air of someone who finally, after much hard work and for once in her life, has a clue about how money runs through her life): Well it could go anywhere from about $95 to $150 but considering how this vet is really good about not over vaccinating or extra invasive procedures and that Em had a 3 year rabies last year I think it's going to run us closer to the $95 mark.

Friday night, about 6pm a little machine at the vet's office called up my bank and made a debit for $250.

Why? you ask. Is she sick? What happened? Did the vet's prices go up? Is there someone out there even worse at math than you and she's running the desk for the vet?

No. No, in point of fact it cost almost triple my projected price because my dog is healthy. Very healthy. Extremely healthy for a dog of her age and temperament. So healthy that it seemed wise to do some tests to find out why in the world she could be so very healthy.

Yes, crazy on the surface, I know, but, as the saying goes, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I've known a few dogs for whom 11 years, Emily's current age, was the turning point. A disease or disorder or issue or difficulty was diagnosed and proceeded to wear them away in very short order during the 11th year. So, superstitiously, I became worried when Emolina turned 11. I try not to make decisions based on that kind of thing, it's dangerous and silly and always ends up leading to another superstition and another thing to do to get you in the comfort zone and pretty soon you're washing all the right foot socks in one load and all the lefts in a second one and laying them out to be worn in a very specific rotation that is, you are certain, the only thing keeping the planets aligned in such a way that sunlight reaches the earth.* But the nice vet lady makes a lot of sense when she talks and I wasn't thinking about money I was just making the right decision for the health of the dog.

Let me be more specific. Emily is due for the Parvo/Distemper virus shot but if it's given routinely a dog's titres (yeah, I don't know but it brought back visions of those spigots in high school chemistry and I felt like I knew enough to keep listening) stay high. It's not a great idea to over vaccinate anyway. And yet stupid not to have them vaccinated against stuff that can hurt and/or kill them. She gave me three choices (she never said I'd be stupid or crazy to choose any one of them, I said that) 1. Give dog vaccine as scheduled, 2. Check dog's titres to see if vaccine is required or 3. Believe dog's titres are fine and leave her unvaccinated since we rarely see these diseases. I chose 2. It just seemed like keeping the options open and covering all the bases and a bunch of other things that my dad would have told me while I was choosing a college. While we talked about the titres it became clear that since Em has been in this vet's care, a period of about three years, we haven't done any blood work on her. Blood work can change in 6 months. So, do we want to get a base line so that, in the event of needing to blood work for any kind of health issue we can check it against the baseline? Well, geez, it sounds pretty silly not to have that, doesn't it? So, we went with some blood work. Heartworm, natch. Purchase of 6 months worth of heartworm meds. Regular office visit, which is, I have to say, a wonderfully reasonable $50, much better than a lot of places.


Vet visit: $50
Baseline bloodwork: $85
6 months of heartworm medication: $46.50
"Wow, she's a truly healthy dog": Priceless**


*There is a glorious episode of Malcolm in the Middle that takes place in a bowling alley where Hal becomes a slave to his superstitions that you really have to see.

**I am ashamed to use this ridiculous Madison Avenue conceit but not so ashamed that I'm going to delete it.


  1. Emily is such a beautiful dog. You gotta pay what you gotta pay. $250 isn't bad. I would have chosen number 2 too.

  2. Worth every penny. I'm not sorry at all. Just chagrined that I fell for my own hype and really thought that something would cost what I thought it was going to.

  3. That is a veterinary bargain, honestly. We did the same thing and had Cam's titres done in April 2005, and I think it ran much more than $250 (we took him to Animal Kind). Of course, you can't put a price on that fabulous dog of yours!

  4. I was interested to know if the rest of it was a good bargain compared to other vets. Given the basic prices of things I thought they were really well-priced but I wasn't sure. And, to be honest, I get such personal, thoughtful, and amenable service there that I'd pay extra for it. I mean, the last vet I used thought I was an ass because I talked to my dog and he over-anaesthetized and over-charged. So I'm in hog heaven with the ladies at Hope, for sure.

    No price on the dog. She's the gift that keeps on giving, despite the fact she still thinks I'm going to sneak out some secret back door when I go into the bathroom...even if I leave the door open so she can see me.