I incurred a surprise expense last week. A neighbor’s Great Dane got in our back yard and bit our 9-year-old husky mix, Eddie. The vet bill was $70 for the antibiotics, exam, clipping, cleaning and stapling his wounds. In today’s economy, such unexpected costs, well, bite. My predictable pet expenses alone are significant, including $210 for meds to prevent heart worm, fleas and ticks; $60 for rabies and other vaccines; and about $500 a year for dog food and biscuits. And that’s not counting periodic grooming costs (he’s been skunked once) and boarding, which can run $18 a day. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association, caring for a dog or cat costs about $11,000 over their lifespan. Jennifer Miller of Oklahoma City has spent that and more on her four canines. She’s paid $8,000 alone on her puppylike 14-year-old lab, who’s survived two types of cancer and has a chronic neuromuscular disease. Of her three poodles, one takes monthly meds for seizures and another has colitis. "It’s been worth every penny,” she said. "Our dogs are our family.” My daughter Jessica, 7, calls Eddie her brother. He walks her to the bus every morning, is glued to her side once she’s home, and even sleeps on the pillow next to hers. The dog, with his ice blue eyes, is a godsend. Before my dear friend, Martha Collar, died of leukemia 18 months ago, she gave him to us. So he is a daily reminder of her and our friendship. He’s also been a ready running partner and a loyal companion in my life. Martha and I once laughed over a fridge magnet I gave her. "Lost dog and lost husband,” it reads. "Reward for the dog.”
Dogs need homeSadly, in today’s recession, there are pet owners who have to give up their pets. Katherine Morris of Sulphur, who’s facing some economic hardship, is forced to give up her chocolate male lab Coco and yellow female lab Cookie, both 3 and trained. "We’re not able to take our beloved doggies with us, and I’ve been desperately trying to find a home for both of them together,” Morris ( email@example.com) wrote in an e-mail. "They were raised together and pine without each other. It’s heartbreaking to let them go. In a perfect world, I hope that we could find someone local so that we can still keep in touch and visit them. I pray that someone, somewhere can help us keep Cookie and Coco together, and love them just as much as we do.” The undeniable nationwide trend was also evident on the walls of my vet’s office, where many fliers were taped of other available dogs and cats. Meanwhile, Eddie is back to his old self, just in time for the fourth annual 3-kilometer Dog Jog (traineddogs.org) 9 a.m., Monday at Wiley Post Park. Race director Melinda Irwin said all proceeds will benefit the Norman-based New Leash on Life. The nonprofit trains assistance, therapy and shelter dogs so they can enrich people’s lives, as Eddie unmistakably has enriched ours. The surprise pet care costs are worth it.