In praise of puppy love (and pet insurance)

Dogs are a huge part of our family. They live with us, eat with us, sleep with us, and give us unconditional love. I could not imagine life without our dogs in it.

But some dogs are more high-maintenance than others. I was unprepared for this. Our shepherd mix (Ginger) hasn’t had any major issues in her 15-year life. She just carries along like always, maybe a little achier in the joints, but still quick enough to steal a roll off our little one’s plate.

perry_the_platypus_vector_by_lordofthieves-d6noyo4Our newest addition, on the other hand, has been a walking vet bill since the day we brought him home. Googly-eyed and awkward, we couldn’t resist our Perry.

This is his namesake.

Note the resemblance.


His first act as a loving member of our household? Swallow a spiky rubber ball.


See it there in his digestive tract? This ball had mysteriously disappeared one day. We surmised its location when Perry threw up every single night for a week. Fine during the day, vomit on the bed at night. The ball was obviously irritating his stomach when he was in a prone position.

While put under for this surgery, we decided to neuter him at the same time.

If the vet was removing one ball, why not remove three?

IMG_0053He wore his cone of shame and recovered in the bosom of his family.

This was a very pricey lesson to learn — puppies are like babies and will swallow small objects when you’re not looking. But puppies aren’t covered by our health insurance plan. Looking at our awkward little Perry, we made the educated guess that he was only at the start of his high-maintenance road, and decided to invest in some pet insurance. It wasn’t long before we thanked our lucky stars for this wise move.

Christmas came and went, and the dogs got into some chocolate when we were out. We weren’t there to see what happened, but Perry was vomiting chocolate continuously, and limping.

IMG_0293The verdict — Ginger crushed him in the fight for the goods.

See how he’s sitting? His hips are twisted to the side.

So after he had recovered from chocolate poisoning (Ginger was unscathed because she’s a machine), we brought him back to the vet for x-rays. She recommended surgery — a Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO). This surgery removes the ball (head and neck) of the femur.

IMG_0313He was shaved and sore. But he quickly bounced back to the crazy high-energy dog he’s always been.  And life carried on like normal for several months, until he started limping on the other side. The vet had cautioned us that this could be the case — the other femur would need surgery at some point too.

That point was now.

While the surgeon had Perry under anesthetic, he also confirmed that our boy had a problem with his MCL (a ligament in the knee that works with the ACL). So he decided to repair that at the same time.

Our 20-pound dog currently has 18 staples in his left leg.  IMG_2209For some thoughts on how Perry feels about this situation, you can check out his personal blog here.

Hopefully this will be his last surgery. But I’m not holding my breath.

Our little dog is only 18 months old, and he’s had about $12,000 worth of veterinary procedures so far. Pet insurance has saved us a lot of money.

And a lot of tough choices.

Our veterinarian said that there are times when people come in with their dog to have it diagnosed, and then leave their dog with the vet — forever. They walk away, tears running down their faces, because they can’t afford the surgery. I don’t ever want to be in this situation.

The premium we pay every month for coverage is a small price to pay for the peace it gives me. The peace to say to our vet, “Whatever you think he needs,” because I trust her with our dog’s life. And given Perry’s track record, I will be saying it to her again in the future.

Thankfully we love our little dog. And look forward to many more years of crazy googly-eyed love.


** we’ve had excellent service from our pet insurance company. If you are interested in knowing the company we use, feel free to send me a message. We aren’t affiliated with them in any way.


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