Saturday, February 26, 2011

We love Lucy

A girlfriend of mine recently complained about the high cost of taking her new puppy to the veterinarian.

"That's why we see a country doctor who charges us a flat rate for shots -- you know, ever since the Lucy incident," I said.

"The Lucy incident?" she asked.

Lucy was our beloved black Labrador Retriever. You see, at the time, we weren't as savvy as we are now. Today, we take advantage of the discounted rabies shots that are offered around the county. When we got a new lab for Christmas, we shopped around for an inexpensive vet, stopping short of buying the shots and administering them ourselves as a friend of mine said she did.

Does it mean our pooch is less pampered or we love him less? Not hardly. It just means that I will never again have to call my husband and whisper into the phone, "Honey, can you please bring me $350, so the vet will release Lucy?"

His reply? "Tell them to keep her!"

Taking Lucy to the vet was never something I relished. She had a way of wiggling her thick neck out of the tightest leash, and once she did, she bolted as if her life depended on it. No calling, begging, bribing or getting in the car and threatening to leave could coax her back. The kids used to think chasing her was the answer. Lucy enjoyed this game very much. She'd allow them to get almost within arm's reach, and then she'd run again.

The day of the incident, I decided to take her and our cat in one fell swoop, a feat hard enough by oneself, plain insane to try to do with three young children. By the time I unbuckled the kids' car seats, and took out the cat, who was hissing and rocking in her carrier, Lucy had slipped out of her collar and was on the run -- straight down the hill into the parking lot below toward some poor terrified man.

"Don't worry! She's sweet!" I screamed down to him.

Not taking my word for it, he decided to run. My kids gave chase, and I tossed the cat carrier aside to pursue them all.

Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- we caught her, put her leash on, dragged her up the hill and got her inside.

"What can we help you with today?" asked the veterinarian.

"Oh, we are just here to get the animals' rabies shots," I said.

"What about a check-up? It's very important that they have their regular check-up. You want to be able to detect any signs of illness early," she said.

"Illness? Lucy's sick?" all three children cried in unison.

"No, she's fine. It's just a check-up!" I said to the kids, beginning to feel a little concerned.

"Hmmm ..." said the vet as she examined our dog. "Have you had her thyroid checked?"

"Um, her thyroid?"

"Yes, it's very common for labs to have problems with their thyroid, especially labs who are overweight like Lucy."

"Oh, I'm sure it's fine."

"I need to tell you that it's a very serious problem, and, if it goes untreated, it could shorten her life span considerably," said the vet.

"Shorten her life span? You mean die? We don't want Lucy to die, Mom! Do the thyroid test, please!" the kids implored, looking at me with big, scared eyes.

"OK, do the test," I said.

"And, I think we need to get her on some diet dog food, too," the vet said. "That is, if you want to keep her around a little longer."

What could I say?

"Sure, we'll take the diet dog food."

The vet continued to make suggestions and the next thing I know I'm calling my husband asking him to take out a loan.

"Diet dog food? Why not just feed her less?" he said.

He had a point.

"You need to get an itemized bill," he said.

I requested one, and as I looked over it, I saw something that I couldn't help but laugh about. At the end of the long list of charges were the words:

Anal glands expressed --complimentary.

That pretty much summed up how I felt.

To add insult to injury, a few weeks later, when I returned home from work one day, my husband said, with more than a hint of sarcasm, "Well, you'll be happy to know that the vet called, and Lucy's thyroid is just fine."

The good news is Lucy lived a nice long life, reaching the age of 13. We fed her table scraps and found her pleasingly plump size made her much easier to catch when she playfully ran away. And she never had to return to the vet again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Big, fat birthday

I have big, fat round birthday coming up. My friends love it. You see, there are those who have already past this milestone and feel my time is long overdue. I understand that feeling.

I have a sister who is 4 years younger. I remember once I thought she was turning 30, and she said, "Oh, God, no. I'm not THAT old." I made sure that, the following year, when she did turn 30 that I called her, and do you know what I said?

I said it's about (bleep) time!

That's just part of being a big sister. It's universal. When my good friend, Dee, turned 40, her older sister called her and said, "Welcome to my box!"

"What?" Dee said.

"My box! Now when you are filling out questionnaires, you have to check the 40-50 box!" said her sister giddily.

I imagine I will get an equally giddy welcome wagon call from Dee on my birthday as well.

Aging (man, I hate to use that word) is a funny thing. If it weren't for the fact that my children can almost look me directly in the eye, I don't think I would notice. Well, except for the pain in my hip ...

My dad once said that he feels just like he did when he was in his early 40s until he looks in the mirror and sees how white his hair is. Of course, I'm sure I contributed to many of those gray hairs.

The truth is, I really don't mind turning 40 as long as I don't have to run a half-marathon. While I admire the many, many, many women who do this at this age, I don't wanna. I didn't want to at 20, and I don't want to now.

In fact, I even asked Dee if she thought I had to in order to get into the 40 bracket.

"Nah, you'll still be 40 anyway," she said giggling with pleasure at the thought.

So, in lieu of running, she and I are going to try ziplinning. You can do this in Whitesburg, you know?

My other goals are a little less physical:

Reading more -- I joined a book club six months ago. That was the first step. Now if I would only start reading the books.

Use cruise control -- I don't really have a burning desire to do this, but since my husband can't believe I've never used it, I will give it a try. Plus it might cut down on speeding tickets.

Stay up-to-date on current events -- If they would quit changing everyday, I could do this one.

Above all, I vow to dwell less on age. A friend of mine said 39 really is worse than 40 because of the dread factor, and I believe her. After all, age is just a number. That is until you're filling out questionnaires and have to check the 40-50 box!