A Pet’s Friendship

Posted on April 29, 2009

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Toby trying his best to look cheery.

Toby trying his best to look cheery.

Hello. I hope everyone is well.

When your family pet falls sick, it is a testing time for everyone in the household. Not only is the family pet very much loved, he (or she) is also seen as a natural extension of the family, filling the void that some family lacks. Taking my family for instance. Toby is my son. Michele’s son. Our little baby. He’s also our best friend who gives us loyal and unconditional love.

Last Tuesday at four in the morning, I received a rather nervous and anxious-sounding call on my mobile from Michele. It’s a weekday, so Michele is up by around six, and out to work by seven. I was at work, and was very surprised to see ‘Boo Boo’ (my pet name for her) flashing incessantly on my mobile. For her to call me in the wee hours of the morning must suggest something of real importance.

Turned out Michele had been kept up by Toby, who had developed breathing difficulties. Not only was he wheezing, he was coughing and hacking and looked like a dog’s breath away from an asthma attack!

As she left for work in the morning, the usually excited and over-exuberant Toby would bark and be the biggest sook, putting on his biggest sad face. This time however, he was placid, wasn’t interested and was sufficiently lethargic.

Like a mother’s love for her child, Michele was genuinely concerned. By then she had gotten off the phone with me too many times, and I suggested she brings Toby to the vet.

Conveniently, I work with dogs. Michele dropped Toby off and headed to work, while I fussed over Toby for a while before I clocked off for the day.

The resident vet was quick to diagnose Toby with kennel cough. I’ve heard of the contagious illness, but truth be told knew nothing much about it. An eight-day dosage of antibiotics was dispensed, and as I speak Toby has a day’s left of medication to go.

He’s much better now, and the wheezing and phlegmy cough only develops in spits and spurts, or when he gets excited. Yesterday, he went an entire day without it.

What really got me thinking was how important did we rate Toby’s companionship with us? During difficult times – such as last year, when Michele and me were stretched out financially – would people be forced to surrender their pets when they are down on their luck?

We were lucky as Toby was in a pink of health last year. His only extravagance was his premium dog food (Advance) and the love and attention he received from everyone (thankfully, free of charge). As I returned home on the train with a very distressed Toby sitting on my lap, I couldn’t help but think how would Michele and me have dealt with the situation last year. In these recessionary times, any extra money in the pocket is a good thing. As we no longer have a wedding to save for and I now have a stable job, we don’t hesitate to cut back. Toby’s health and welfare is of utmost importance. He is after all, our son.

Would we have done and thought the same had Toby gotten sick last year? A world of yes.

There’s a common saying that’s whispered to potential dog owners – “If you can’t afford to feed a dog, you shouldn’t have one.” I would have to agree with that. With a little add on.

“If you can’t afford to feed a dog, you shouldn’t have one. Unless he’s Toby.”

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