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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

“Really, a PUPPY!”

“Really, a PUPPY!”
Many years ago, a friend of mine had a beautiful Golden Retriever.  They bought “Snickers” as a puppy at a nearby Mall.  She cost $75. My friend, who is no longer a friend as I lost him along with many other friends in the divorce, always referred to Snickers as a “Mall Dog.”
Snickers was a good dog, but like all retrievers she was a handful.  At three years old, Snickers was still puppy-like in behavior, but without the retriever puppy cuteness.  One weekend, snickers got into the remains of a smoked chicken carcass.  She was a very sick dog.  My friend took the dog to the local Vet.
After examining the dog the vet said the dog would need an operation to clear poor Snickers intestines of crunched up chicken bones.  My friend listened carefully to the Vet, along with his six year old daughter.
“What will happen to Snickers without the operation Daddy?”
“Well Honey, without the operation, Snickers will die.”
The Vet broke into the conversation.  “I’m sure we can save Snickers with the operation.”
“How much will this cost?”
“The operation will cost $1500.”
“One thousand five hundred bucks!  The dog only cost me $75!”
“I’m afraid it is that or we have to put her down.”
“Daddy please, make Snickers get better.”
“Well Honey, it is going to be very expensive.  Of course we could just get another puppy.”
The Vet could not believe what he was hearing; surely this father would not just let his little girl's pet die.
The daughter’s eyes lit up and she blurted out with much excitement,
 “Really Daddy, A PUPPY!”
One look at this little girl, and the father’s apparent cold heart and the Vet quickly volunteered, “We could probably do the operation for $1000.”
“I don’t know, $1000, my daughter seems to have her heart set on a puppy.”
The Vet countered, “Five hundred dollars.”
“What do you think Honey, we could always get a puppy another day?”
“Well, OK daddy, I do love Snickers, but puppies are so cute.”
Snickers had the operation and survived for many more years, and she was indeed a very good dog.
Now this story may make my one time friend sound like a very insensitive and cruel man, but the Vet was quoting an exorbitant price to a family which he assumed was desperate.  This was also in a very affluent neighborhood and my friend felt he was being unfairly ripped off. 
I believe that if push came to shove he would have gone the whole $1500, but I am not positive.
I do know he was a very tough negotiator.


  1. Gee, it's tough to know what one is seeing here....avarice? Could be. insensitivity? Sure. Bad modeling from a parent? Could be. A parable about something? Probably. Always leave 'em guessing, Joeh.

  2. For a well loved pet some people will pay anything to save them.

  3. some folks don't think of pets as family. they're my kids. :)

  4. Hmm, should I be honest here? OK I will.
    I love my dog, and I adored all our pets growing up so I know how much pets mean to kids, who tend to see them as their brothers and sisters. If you had asked me years ago, I would have sworn that of course I would pay for an operation if my pet needed it.
    But these days we have little money and growing kids, I work part-time (my choice, yes), and just paying bills is challenging enough. We have a Pomeranian (we got him cheap from a friend as well!) who a couple of years ago started limping and the vet told us he needed $2500 knee reconstruction surgery which would also require 2 weeks' quiet time to recover (so add 2 weeks in a kennel or doggy day care to the surgery bill). And I didn't even hesitate. We didn't do it. We just couldn't afford it.
    I was getting embarassed taking him for annual checkups and shots as the vet kept telling us he needed the op. Finally I just admitted we couldn't afford it and he immediately offered cortisone shots and some anti-inflammatory medicine which all came to about $200 - we did that, and the dog was 'cured' - at least for now. It's been nearly 2 years and he's been good. I am sure he will need more shots in future, but I most likely won't be doing the surgery.

  5. We lost our dog Luke about a year ago. I spent approx 8 times what I paid for him trying to save him, and have never regretted it. Did I get ripped off? Maybe, but he was family. I wouldn't go bargain shopping for a doctor for one of my kids, and I won't for my dog either.

  6. I've been asked the point of this story...I really do not have a point, it is simply a story of a man who felt he was being ripped of by the vet and he could not really afford to be ripped off. Not to defend my once upon a time friend, but he was not a horrible person and he was facing some other difficult times. His wife (girlfriend from High School) had several operations and chemo over a 10 year time when this happened. She succumbed to brain cancer 10 years later after several more surgeries and chemo treatments which meant financial difficulties and a different perspective of death than many might have.

    And, ultimately, he did do the right thing regards Snickers.

  7. We have a vet who is a good friend and would not rip us off, so i'm not sure how to weigh in on that. As for whether or not to have such a surgery, to me you have to take the whole family situation into account and whether or not the animal is likely to survive, and what the quality of life would be after. There have been animals we've chosen to let go rather than put them through expensive treatments that wouldn't have saved their lives, but would simply have painfully postponed their deaths.

  8. I had a comment but I just read about his wife so I will rethink. He obviously was a bit hard pressed from all the doctor bills and painful loss. Glad you added that.
    My previous dog was a free stray that became my $3000 bionic dog after rebuilt knees. If I didn't have the money for his surgeries, I would have hooked on the streets to get it. At my age, I might have earned more as a Walmart greeter but he was my bud for 17 years. I'd have done what it took.

  9. The other possibility is that the vet was actually a good person, if still a businessman. Maybe he offered the lower cost, even at cost of his time and expense, because he got into the business to save lives and he was willing to lower his fee to cost, if need be, to save the pooch. It's a longshot, but maybe.

    In any case, your buddy got the job done. The one I'd be worried about is the daughter. She was mighty cavalier about ol' Snickers versus a puppy!

  10. I have to agree with everything Sully said. Vets don't generally lower their prices because they want to squeeze at least some business out of us. I have had very compassionate vets who have done what they could to make it easier for payment. I think this doctor couldn't imagine putting an otherwise healthy creature down.

    If your ex-friend couldn't afford the surgery and the price didn't budge, he would have had to come to a very difficult decision (for most animal lovers). It's understandable given difficult finances and stresses. However, if he had decided against the surgery, I think it would have been very wrong for him to then invest in another dog. There are always high vet bills associated with pets.. it's just a matter of time. And I'm uncomfy with the message that the considered trade-off sent to the child.

  11. I'd find a new vet. Well played for the dad though. He knew what the vet was doing.

    I love how you end up losing friends in a divorce. Just kinda went through that. The one friend I loved is gone and the one I can't stand is in my face way too much.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. My best to Mrs. Cranky. ☺

  12. It's criminal what vets and animal hospitals charge. I'm still paying off the $4,000 bill for one of our cats.

  13. My late brother-in-law was a vet. He took care of our pets for free!!

  14. A puppy for $75? That's a steal! We got ours at the pound, and couldn't take it home until the pound people sent it to their vet for neutering. Cost us a little over $100 for that free mutt puppy.