Today’s healthcare needs include cheddar cheese and a dog wrangler

Most of us expect to begin taking medication at some point in our lives, particularly those with small children. What many of us don’t expect, however, is for the family dog to begin taking medication. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first generation to actually provide dogs with things like health insurance, plastic surgery, organ transplants and dentures.

When I was a kid, our dog seemed content eating table scraps, chewing on car tires and barking at the hot water heater. Those things were referred to as character. Now, of course, these things are referred to as a schizoid embolism requiring psychological treatment, a diet plan and regular nightly flossing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t provide our pets with the kind of healthcare they deserve. I’m just saying that I should have the option of being covered under my dog’s health plan, which — with its dental coverage — is superior to my own.

A few weeks ago, we took our Labrador to the vet after a series of “accidents” in the middle of the night. We believed this was the result of a) Our dog having an incontinence problem, or b) The cat dipping our dog’s paw in warm water.

Our vet said the only way to be sure was to obtain a urine sample from our dog for testing, at which point he sent us home with a plastic container roughly the size of a shot glass. As I feared, our vet explained that the sample had to go directly into it in order to eliminate any chance of contamination.

There was never any question that I’d be the one stalking our dog with the shot glass, trying to catch a free pour until I either got the sample or was reported by a neighbor to the SPCA.

I should add that our dog has always been a little jumpy, and a week of being stalked by someone trying to steal his urine hasn’t helped.

After obtaining the required sample, we took it to the vet for testing and had our worst fears confirmed, which is that our dog does indeed have better health coverage than we do. We also learned that a dog’s incontinence problem can be solved through a very simple, easy-to-follow combination of prescription medications, with one pill given once every other day, and a second pill given twice a day, every other day, but not on the SAME day as the first pill. After a month, the sequence is then reversed and continues until the incontinence stops completely, or both you and your dog are so confused that you don’t care WHO pees on the floor.

Being that my wife is the organizer, she came up with a plan to keep track of everything by color-coding the pill bottles, then color-coding the calendar to match the correct sequence. As an extra precaution, she also created a spreadsheet that can be checked-off each night and, if necessary, used as a back-up in the event that we all go color blind.

Of course, none of this really mattered because our dog refused to swallow his medication.

When we tried sticking the pills in her favorite treat, it worked great. But it sort of defeats the purpose of having a prescription discount when you’re spending $40 a month on cheddar cheese. That’s when my wife, the dog-wrangler, said she could force our dog to swallow his pills by placing them on the back of the tongue and poking them down with her finger.

In retrospect, this was clearly a bad idea.

On one hand, I can tell you our dog did swallow her pill; on the other hand, I can also tell you most of his stomach contents from that day.

This brought us back to the cheese option, which we’ve stuck with for the last several weeks. While this has made giving prescriptions to our dog a lot easier and helped with his incontinence, the high rate of cheese consumption has created a different kind of problem — which has prompted a return to the vet.

And I’ll tell you right now that if he wants a sample of THAT in a shot glass, he can do it himself.


You can write to Ned Hickson at [email protected], or c/o Siuslaw News, 148 Maple St., Florence, Or. 97439.

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