It’s National Pet Week and the 94th annual Be Kind to Animals Week, a little reminder to stop and think about how your pet enriches your life. And for those who don’t have a furry companion, it's a good chance for you to think about whether you are at that point in your life where you can adopt a new member into the family. But I think National Pet Week should also be synonymous with Thank Your Vet Week.
Too often we take the people who help make the quality of our pets' lives better for granted. But after the week I had with my own dog, Rocky, I want to give a big "thank you" to the veterinarians who looked after him.
A little before 1 a.m. one morning last week, I woke up to Rocky shrieking in pain for no apparent reason. He had just been lying at the foot of my bed asleep with no problems the whole night. I looked him over, but couldn’t find anything wrong. I hoped it was something that would pass, but after a few episodes of the painful crying I realized it wasn’t getting any better.
I have come to think that if I ever have kids I will be "That Mom." That Mom is a constant embarrassment to her children as they grow up. That Mom is the one who worries too much. That Mom is the one who takes them to the doctor if she hears a sneeze. That Mom bundles them up in a parka and mittens when it drops below 65 degrees. I know this because I am That Mom with my dog.
Normally on the first sign of a problem, I pack Rocky up and we head to Horton Animal Hospital on Forum. I have been bringing him there since I moved to Columbia and they have always taken excellent care of him. Like most children, he isn’t a fan of the doctor’s office. He has become so familiar with the route that after we turn onto Forum Boulevard, he begins to shake and tries to hide under the back seat.
But last week at 1 a.m., normal business hours at Horton Animal Hospital were well past and I was beginning to worry about what was wrong with Rocky. Being That Mom, I assumed the worst, called my boyfriend, and in broken, sobbing sentences I told him I thought Rocky was dying.
He assured me that probably wasn’t the case. We made the decision to take Rocky to the MU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital because they have an emergency room that stays open into the wee hours of the morning.
We spent most of the rest of the night and quite a bit of the next day at the MU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Rocky was in a lot of pain and I was a basket case, but the vets were amazing. They went above and beyond what I expected and I can’t express how grateful I am to them for taking such good care of my little boy.
Rocky is thought to have Intervertebral Disk Disease, a disorder that occurs in some small dogs like him. Disks in between his vertebrae have calcified and moved up toward his spinal cord, compressing it and causing the pain. Although I take the diagnosis seriously, I am thankful it isn’t anything worse.
Rocky is now on the road to recovery thanks to the staff at the MU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. I want to say thanks to them again for understanding how important my dog is to me and treating him like he was just as important to them.
Rocky has to be cage rested for the next six weeks to help his condition. He won’t be able to enjoy Pet Week at the dog park, barking at geese and small children or going to get goodies at Treats Unleashed like he would prefer. I get to show Rocky how much I love him by following doctor’s orders and keeping him from having any fun.
But hopefully you can let your pets know how much you appreciate them by doing something special for them this week. Even though every week should be like Be Kind to Animals Week, use this time as an opportunity to show your children how important it is to treat animals with respect and love. Show them the proper way to take a dog for a walk on a leash, or make homemade catnip toys with them for a house cat. Take them to the Mud Room downtown and let them make customized food and water bowls for your pet.
Don’t forget to let your vet know you appreciate them as well. Send a thank you card or donate blankets and towels to their facility to help with animal upkeep. Remember, Pet Week and Be Kind to Animals Week don't have to be limited to the animals in your household. Reach out to homeless and shelter animals as well, especially if you don’t have any pets of your own.
Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.