My dog died on Monday. An American Foxhound, she lived to the ripe old age of 14, much longer than anyone, including my vet, ever expected. Even so, I am struck by the void her absence has left in our home life. There were so many routines that we took for granted, from the early morning dog walks to the almost daily vacuuming of her dog hairs all over the front hall rug. On Tuesday, my husband felt lost in the morning because he was so used to grabbing her leash. So he grabbed our littlest one instead and toted him around as he went through the rest of the morning routine.
Before Peanut, I’d never had a pet for that long. When I was a kid, I owned a dog, but we had to give him away when we moved overseas. There were times, over Peanut’s life, that I was really struck by the commitment we had made to taking care of this creature. When my first son was 2, he used to terrorize her by loving her too much. She complained to me daily about him trying to climb on her for a ride or pull on her ears. She never bit him, but she would give me a look that threatened to do so if I didn’t pry him away. Policing their interaction until my son matured tested my patience almost to exhaustion.
When Peanut was 8, she had put on a few extra pounds that our vet said we should try to shed, so we bought some of the “diet” dog food that was recommended to us, increased her exercise, and promised to bring her in for weigh-ins. The premium we paid for that food soon felt too high when it failed to produce the necessary results. There’s nothing worse than trying to help a dog with a yo-yo weight problem.
That weight problem and several other health issues literally melted away when we switched her to an organic dog food. I had been skeptical of making the switch, but on my sister’s advice we gave it a try. This time, the price premium paid us dividends.
Weight problem went away, her energy came back and our visits to the vet declined. In fact, the vet told us we had probably not only saved her life, we added years to it. Six more years, as it turned out. My dog became my daily reminder that if you eat right and take care of your health, you not only live longer, your healthcare costs decline.
The day after she died, I got an email from my town clerk telling me that I had forgotten to renew Peanut’s license. My friends, and kids, asked me if we’d ever get another dog. Maybe, I thought to myself, as I stopped my husband from vacuuming the rug that day. Someday.
If you’re interested in owning a pet, remember it’s a long-term commitment not only emotionally, but financially. The ASPCA’s website has some great resources to help you determine whether you’re ready to handle the cost. Here’s a copy of their chart to help you get started:
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