So, right now as I’m writing this, I am nursing my 9 year old Japanese Spitz, Mana, who has just undergone surgery to correct lux patella in her left leg. The poor thing is in a fair bit of pain and I can’t help but feel sorry for her.
Dogs don’t have the mental capacity that humans do, so she has no idea what’s happened to her, or why her leg isn’t working the way it used to (for now). She also doesn’t understand that she won’t have free reign of the house, or that her recovery is going to take between 4 to 6 weeks.
She also doesn’t realise that I have taken 2 weeks off work just to look after her.
Interestingly, when I’ve told people that I’ve taken annual leave to care for my fur baby, they give me a funny look, as if I’m crazy that I’d dedicate my time to anything other than a human being. It makes me feel a bit upset and sad that other individuals view pets as inferior don’t deserve the same attention that people do.
The reality is, pets are fast becoming members of the family. And with the introduction of animal gadgets, fashion, special foods and diet plans and pet insurance, businesses are recognising that there is a massive shift towards how much humans love and value domestic animals in today’s society.
I love Mana so very much and I’d do anything for her. She has been with me through some of the most monumental events in my life – both good and bad. I can’t imagine a life without her. I’m sure if you’re a pet owner you feel the same about your pet/s too.
Unfortunately, they do come with challenges.
Depending on what type of pet you have, the amount of time and energy put into making sure they are meeting their physical needs can vary. For instance, I need to take Mana for a walk at least once a day, otherwise she goes insane. I also have to make sure that she’s properly exercised to maintain her weight (she’s borderline overweight… apparently).
They don’t care about the weather either, so whether it’s rain, hail or shine, be prepared for physical exercise. Dogs also don’t care if you are sick – I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve had to haul myself out of bed because I’m unwell, just to take her to the park.
Inside the house is just as demanding. She’s not a big dog, but there are times where she jumps on things which could end in disaster. Mana has a habit of jumping on my bed at night when I’m sleeping. My biggest fear is that she lands funny and hurts her leg. I have to look out for her, so I try to stop her from jumping on and off things which will place big impact on her joints.
When pets need to have surgery, the post operative care can be extremely draining.
Since Mana’s operation, I’ve had to stay inside, near her pen so that I can keep an eye on her. At this point, I’m getting a bit tired of sitting on the couch all day, and strangely, I’m feeling physically drained. Mana is refusing to sleep in her pen at night, so I’ve been sleeping on the couch with her. Needless to say, my back and shoulders are a bit sore at the moment.
On top of that, I’ve had to carry her outside so that she can go to the toilet, exercise her leg to reduce tissue scarring, not to mention taking her to vet appointments for checkups and post operative care. All of this involves physical movement. on my part.
I know that pets don’t play mind games, but I swear that Mana does. It doesn’t help that dogs can’t communicate in the same way that humans do. She can be mentally exhausting. Sometimes, she will whine for no reason at all, just for attention. Other times, she will just stare at me from across the room.
I’ve read tons of blogs on dog body language, but sometimes I’m still stumped about what she actually wants from me. There are definitely times where her behaviour does get the better of me, and I feel like I can’t do anything about it.
The fact that I’m currently confined to the house because of her surgery has been challenging. I want to go out and exercise, go shopping or see my friends… but I can’t. Not for another week anyway.
Same goes for Mana. I’m sure that she’s bored out of her mind because she can’t move properly, and shes on drugs which make her feel out of it. I anticipate that mental stimulation in the next coming weeks will be necessary to keep her out of mischief.
Where do I begin with this one… I am very emotionally attached to my dog. Like I’ve mentioned above, Mana has been with me throughout some of the most difficult and life changing events I’ve experienced to date. She is my companion when I’m happy, sad, and everything inbetween.
When I’m away from her, I’m always thinking about what she’s up to, and if she misses me. I get sad when I read or see animal articles in the news, or if I see a stray on the street because I can’t imagine Mana being without me to protect and love her.
I always want to take her with me everywhere I go if I get the opportunity. I love watching her go crazy at the park because she’s so excited and happy to be there. It’s like watching a child experience things for the first time – I am in complete awe of her.
I’ve got so many photos and videos on my phone of her that I look through when I miss her. I talk to her like she is a person, even though I know that she doesn’t really understand me.
Sometimes, I think I have an unhealthy emotional attachment to her, but when I speak to other people who have pets, it’s like talking to a mother who just brags and dotes on their child, so I don’t feel like the only one who considers their pet as a kid.
I try not to think about how much Mana costs me, but as she gets older, it’s starting to add up. Vet bills are not cheap – $75 a pop, not to mention that she’s on a special diet which means she needs to eat specific, expensive food. She chews through toys, so I’m constantly having to buy new ones. And don’t get me started on worming and flea treatments! Tablets and solutions probably cost me about $130 every 3 months.
And then there’s things which I can’t really budget for. Her surgery alone cost almost $3,000 AUD. And yes, I do have pet insurance, but her premiums are pretty steep, now that she’s over 9 years old. But I do anticipate that there will be more claims to come.
And then there’s the intangible expenses. Like taking leave just to look after her when she’s unwell. Time = money, as they say. I’m fortunate that the time I’ve taken off for her surgery is paid leave, but if I didn’t have that, I would be significantly out of pocket, and possibly in financial trouble.
It really does all add up.
However, despite all the challenges, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Her personality just brightens my day and she never ceases to make me laugh. There’s never a dull moment when she is around.
I’m a proud fur mother and I am so very lucky to have Mana in my life.
Are you a fur mother? Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below!