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Volume 15, Issue 40 ~ October 4 - October 10, 2007


For the Love of a Dog

There’s nothing some of us humans wouldn’t do for the pets they adore

by M.L. Faunce

Margo, a blind bull mastiff, has a human who prays to St. Francis for her every day. This seven-year-old, 134-pound caramel-colored dog is dearer than life itself, says her owner.

I met woman and dog at Anne Arundel Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Annapolis the day her human had brought her in for a suspected cancerous growth. “So unfair,” says the human, for a pet that has already lost a fight for her sight to an infection caused by a tick bite.

The owner, who can’t pinpoint the tick bite to either her home in Jamaica or Annapolis, where she’s visiting, is not alone. Walk in any day (or night) at this 24-hour, 365-day emergency service, and you, too, will witness the boundless love that humans feel for their animals.

I made my first visit a few years back on my brother’s 50th birthday. The party was over and my family was sitting back in the afterglow of a splendid celebration when my dachshund, Sitka, came waddling into the yard after helping herself to my neighbor’s garbage. My brother and I dashed the dog to the Annapolis clinic, his small son in tow. Five-year-old Austin worried about this wiener dog because of his own recent stint at the doctor’s office — to extract an M&M stuck up his nose. He could feel the little dog’s pain.

Sitka was five years gone when I visited the clinic again this summer. My replacement dachshund, Rose, had become paralyzed after a daring dive off my deck. Two hours later, the patient underwent the knife to relieve a large herniated disc.

Biding my time in the waiting room, I leafed through albums set out on side tables. In the gloom of worry, I wished for young Austin’s company and perspective. But in the albums, I found consolation in a letter from the grateful owners of Ratatouie, a sweet-looking black and tan dachshund, who praised the care given to their beloved pet.

Before Rose’s explosive deck-flying accident, her life had been the stuff of backyard dreams: chasing squirrels and birds (to my chagrin), the occasional opossum, as well as targeting sunning snakes in the middle garden, meandering, marauding neighborhood cats, slow-gaited box turtles and feisty fox kits. All were Rose’s playmates, including once a fence-leaping deer. All of life’s pleasures were hers, including tamer walks to the Bayfront that beckoned a dachshund that didn’t mind swimming.

Rose was a master of high jinks. Her military crawl would make Lassie weep.

Now, as Dr. Gray at Muddy Creek Animal Hospital put it, for a while “her little butt is shut down.”

Americans will spend nearly $41 billion dollars on their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Manufactures Association, with about $10 billion dollars for veterinary care.

My cousin, Carolyn, spent $9,000 searching for a cause and a cure of the ailments of her standard poodle, KoKo. My brother spent oodles before the discovery that his yellow lab, Cali, had Addison’s disease. More will be spent to maintain the health of beloved family pets, yours and ours.

Dogs are famously known for their boundless love. But I’ve discovered the boundless love that humans — including veterinarians and young techs — give in return.

Pets are said to reduce health care costs for humans; they are often a great source of exercise as well as comfort and joy. People with pets visit the doctor less often and use less medication, according to the Humane Society. People with pets recover more quickly from illnesses. Still, we’re probably not thinking of those stats when caring for our pets.

Rose is recovering well. In my house, dining-table side chairs are strewn across the sofa, a deterrent to high jumps. An ice-pink pet stroller awaits in the garage for walks to the Bay. Corrals and baby grates proliferate. The vet says Rose will likely get back to normal. I don’t know if she’ll rise to chasing squirrels or birds, but I can hardly wait for the military crawl to begin.

Show your boundless love for animals as you and your canine walk in Calvert Animal Welfare League’s 14th annual Pet Walk on Sat., Oct. 6. To raise funds for the no-kill adoption center. Walk and enjoy activities from 10am-3pm @ Annmarie Garden, off Dowell Rd., Solomons. $10/minimum pledge: 410-535-9300.

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