Friday, September 07, 2007

Pet Tales

The PR lady I hired to promote my novel asked me to write something funny about my pets here—she said it would give me a better shot at a feature in Chicagoland Tails Magazine.

Well, I thought, it is timely, since this has been a week of All Pets, All the Time. My dog is running around in one of those ridiculous cone-head collars meant to stop her from destroying her new stitches and my cat was just in the hospital for a week and a half with a liver disease that turned his skin a strange shade of yellow. Plenty of comedy to be mined for my shot at the CTM Author's Corner. Why not? Here goes...

When I first put the giant cone collar on my dog, Wrigley, I swear she gave me a look, like, I can’t believe you’re making me wear this fashion atrocity. All the other dogs will make fun. So I told her it’s an “E-Collar.” The “E” stands for Elizabethan. As in Queen Elizabeth. Very fashionable. She looked about as convinced as she did last Christmas when I told her her new black collar was very slimming.

It didn’t take her long to crack its clear plastic cone and my husband brought the duct tape out for repairs. I made him use the clear plastic tape. As a woman, I understand the perils of being a fashion victim. However, when she cracked the cone the third time, it was me who brought out the duct tape.

It should be noted that in my neighborhood, when you yell “Wrigley” out your back door, about four yellow Labrador Retrievers come running up. Now it’s three, because the cone has contributed to our Wrigley’s selective hearing, allowing her to ignore our calls, but seeming to amplify the word “walk” whenever she hears it in a sentence. And it’s certainly worked as an amplifier for her breath. Eeuw.

The cone is a source of embarrassment for my husband, who won’t take her outside with it on and it’s a source of discomfort for me, because now my writing foot-warmer constantly pokes me in the shins. And even though she makes boo-boo face at me every time I lace up my running shoes, I refuse to let her come with me, even though the vet said she’d be fine. I fear being chased down the sidewalk by angry PETA members who’d see her bandaged leg and think I was abusing her. (She tore her carpal pad—that weird, vestigial foot pad up high and behind her front leg. It didn’t even require stitches; it was simply suggested as a better way to heal her up.)

Which brings me to my cat. How did he get liver disease? I’ve never seen him in the liquor cabinet, yet it would explain the sometimes astonishing rate at which the Chardonnay disappears.

He had to go to the North Shore to an emergency veterinary clinic. My first reaction, upon hearing my vet wanted to transfer him up there was along the lines of I don’t know if I’d transfer my husband to the North Shore…

But my cat, Mr. Bigglesworth—(Okay, his name deserves some explanation. We adopted him three years ago and he came with the name, which we liked enough to keep, although I felt like a complete idiot every time I called to check the condition of Mr. Bigglesworth. Around the house, we just call him Biggs. (My husband had a pre-disposed, Sex in the City aversion to calling him Mr. Big.))—is the best cat I’ve ever owned. He gets along with everyone, man and beast, and he’s always been large and jolly, until earlier this summer when he began losing weight. At first, we rejoiced. Finally! The photograph of the really fat cat we put on his food canister was motivating him to diet. But no, Biggs was sick. He stopped eating altogether, something that, sadly, went unnoticed for a few days in our hectic lives.

As I sat with my kids in an exam room at the fancy-schmancy pet hospital, talking to my husband on my cell phone, trying to decide at what price-point saving a cat’s life becomes too much, my sons’ resolve began to falter. They both began shedding big Hollywood teardrops that dribbled telegenetically down their cheeks. My husband and I had agreed on a plan of action, but when the vet walked in and handed me the Payment Agreement form to sign, with its hefty North Shore price-tag, my resolve faltered as well. I signed on the dotted line. It’s what Mastercard is for.

I was at the veterinarian’s every single day last week. Well, with the exception of Thursday, when my kids and my babysitter brought the dog in for me, because she’d ripped off her bandage, tearing her carpal pad even further. I had to go to the dentist, where I ended up getting three surprise root canals. It’s still a toss-up as to whether I’d rather have gone to the vet’s again. When I called home after my horrid morning at the dentist, to check on my dog and my cat and, oh yeah, my kids, too, I was informed my dog needed surgery. I called the vet.

“But, could she get better without stitches?” (Each root canal: $850)

“Possibly, but since we’re closed for the holiday weekend, if she did get worse, we wouldn’t be able to see her until Monday.” (Cat at hoity toity North Shore animal hospital: $Thousands)

How much will the stitches cost? ($450)

Coming to the insane conclusion that $450 to fix you dog’s paw sounds like a bargain: Priceless.

Pets add so much to our lives, but there are certainly times when I question the sanity of having them. After a roller-coaster week of good news and bad news about Biggs, he’s finally home. I’m relieved. I made a good fiscal decision. Even so, this week, Cat III is my favorite pet. The only healthy one who didn’t cost me money.

Yesterday, before we left the hospital with Biggs, I deadpanned to the veterinarian, “Will he have Super-Powers now? Because we sure paid a lot for him.”

She paused for a moment, then said, “You mean besides turning yellow?”

See how it was all worth it? After spending all that money—my cat is better and I get a great one-liner for my blog to boot.

I guess it was a good week for writing about my pets—or a bad week—depending on how you look at it. Let’s just hope my PR lady doesn’t get any bright ideas about The Journal of Endodontics.

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