Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Pet peeve

Citizen Staff Writer



My friend is sitting around waiting for his lizard to die.

Well, he’s not really just sitting around waiting. He still goes to work, watches baseball on TV and plays video games while his lizard refuses to eat and becomes increasingly lethargic.

But he won’t take the lizard to the vet. He says it’s ridiculous to pay what he expects would be an astronomical bill for “a $30 pet.”

That reminds me of one of my rats who had a tumor. I later found out rats are highly susceptible to tumors, could live years with the things and the tumors were usually benign.

The vet wanted $2,000 for surgery. This was a $2 pet. A feeder rat. We didn’t get the surgery.

The rat did live for years and still ate, slept and ran in that rolly ball thing with his usual fervor (though the ball kind of turned lopsided after awhile).

So while I can relate to my friend to a certain extent, getting a pet should be kind of like a marriage: for better for worse, ’til death do us part.

And death should not be sped up by avoiding the vet.

My dog Sawyer tested this theory early on when he ate a small handful of river rocks in Oregon.

One of the smooth, slippery stones was only about an inch wide but a hefty 4 inches long. I know because I still have it.

While the rock slipped down Sawyer’s throat just fine, it then lodged sideways at the top of his intestine.

His head bloated like a parade float as toxins backed up in his system.

He was a $60 dog, facing an $800 stomach surgery. Yet I still thought it ludicrous when one of my co-workers suggested I could put him to sleep, as euthanasia was cheaper than the surgery.

The horror.

Another horror is the path some other folks take when they find their pets too expensive.

They let pets loose in the desert.

Roadkill calls have jumped from 159 in October to 223 in March, according to the Pima Animal Care Center. This hefty increase is most likely brought about, at least in part, by abandonment.

Still others leave pets behind after they’ve been evicted or their homes have been foreclosed.

Such things are more sickening, even, than eating 4-inch river rocks.

Even those faced with seemingly insurmountable vet bills have found a way to pay them.

Lizzie Mead and her two greyhounds – Opal and Rider – were victims of a hit-and-run in October. This left her with a $14,300 bill and a dog whose eye popped out.

The amount has been paid as of May 1. Money was raised through generous donations, extra customers at Mead’s Silver Sea Jewelry & Gifts store on Fourth Avenue, and a beaded bracelet campaign.

The beaded bracelets were so gloriously successful, Mead kept up the campaign after the vet bill was paid to raise an additional $1,164 to save two retired racing hounds from Guam.

For better for worse. ‘Til death do us part. All for the love of pets.

The pets, yes, they love us back, save for one dog I had that constantly crapped on my pillow.

Even with lots of love, not all pet tales have happy endings.

My childhood gerbil was accidentally slain when he bit someone and the person hurled him back into the cage.

My adult miniature pinscher was murdered when some jerk decided to get back at me through my dog.

A friend’s baby alligator died when it was forgotten in a shoebox atop a kitchen cabinet for the entire summer.

My mom’s childhood parakeet got loose and landed in a sizzling frying pan.

Tragedies happen, but we are still obligated to do the best for our pets regardless of circumstance.

Never chuck them in the middle of the desert. Never shove them in a shoebox for the summer. And never fry pirogi while a bird is loose in the house.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and Tucson Citizen reporter who still owes her folks $800 for Sawyer’s stomach surgery.

Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.party934.com.

E-mail: rynski@tucsoncitrizen.com


An update on Lizzie Mead and the greyhounds can be found at greyhoundinjuryfund.wordpress.com.

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