Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

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Healthy Pets: How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

Posted on Dec 3, 2014 by Lisa Ricard Claro   No Comments Yet | Posted in Uncategorized

My hubby Joe and I often say that our yellow Lab mix, Rigby, is the most expensive free dog in the world. Technically, that’s a lie. We adopted him from Animal Action Rescue and paid the donation fee of $150.00, so not free; but at no time have we ever felt we didn’t get the best end of the bargain. “You’re worth way more than 150 bucks, buddy,” we’ve always told him, and in the last few years he’s decided to see if we were serious.

Apparently we were, because we’ve spent a fortune proving it.

A couple years ago, around midnight on a Saturday night, Joe noticed that Rigby’s face was swollen. We suspected an allergic reaction to something in the yard, talked about giving him a Benadryl and waiting for morning to see if he improved, but we feared a snake bite, so we bundled up our furry darling and rushed off to the ER vet. Three hours and $275.00 later he had been examined, given a shot of antibiotics, and a Benadryl (yeah, we called that one), and we were told to keep an eye on him and bring him to our regular vet on Monday for a follow-up.

On Monday, our regular vet discovered Rigby had developed sores in his ears and the inside of his mouth. At first, they agreed with the ER vet that Rigby had suffered an allergic reaction to something, but over the course of several weeks, many vet visits, and hundreds of dollars later, it was determined that he suffers from some sort of immunodeficiency disorder, exacerbated by—who knows? Over time, many more vet visits, and multiple medications, the sores disappeared and our boy was happy once again.

Until he tore his meniscus.

At only 8-years-old,we decided he still has a lot of romping to do and shouldn’t spend the rest of his doggy life limping around in pain, so last summer, after—yes, Buttercup, say it with me—multiple vet visits, tests, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and other conservative treatments, we made the decision to have the meniscus surgically repaired.

This is not cheap. This is the cost of a beachy vacation for two, complete with cabana boys, spa days, and coconut rum. I cry a little now whenever I see pictures of the Caribbean.


After the surgery and a full three months of regimented home therapy, Rigby was cleared for takeoff. He’s spent countless happy hours racing around the backyard in dogged pursuit of the members of Squirrel Nation. He even caught one, which began another round of vet visits, and about which I wrote a few weeks ago. (If you missed it, here it is: Hocka-Hocka-Burnin’ Barf).

After the Barfing Blowout, it was time for both dogs to undergo the semi-annual trek to the vet for their heartworm shots. No worries, right? Except that the vet found a growth at the base of Rigby’s spine which, if left alone, will eventually prevent him from lifting his tail. We had noticed he didn’t like to fully sit down at treat time—he’d sit about three-quarters of the way without dropping his butt all the way to the floor, and the growth is the reason why. So now the poor guy has to have surgery to remove the growth, and he really does have a “tail of woe.” (Hahaha. Aw, c’mon. That’s funny.)

All these medical issues! But you know what? He’s taking it like a dog. No whining, no complaining, no hogging the TV remote. In spite of it all, his greatest mission, aside from Total Squirrel Annihilation, is to love his humans and protect us to the best of his ability, and he rocks it.

Rigby’s partner in crime, Penny—there’s a picture of the two of them, below—has had no medical issues whatsoever. She needs her teeth cleaned. Does that count?

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Penny & Rigby – Best Pals

Added to Rigby’s issues is our old lady kitty, Bailey. She has kidney disease and is on special food and meds, and we give her an IV infusion every day. No fun for her or us, but she’s hanging in there and is so affectionate and loveable I can’t imagine not doing everything in our power to make her comfortable. She loves to snuggle with us, and meows at me when it’s bedtime and I’m not getting under the covers fast enough to suit her. Look at that face!


Sweet Bailey Cat

In total we have two dogs and three cats. I know there are those who watch the ongoing Animal Escapades here at the Claro house with curiosity and no small amount of horror. Not everyone feels that it is quite sane to expend the time, energy, and money that we do on our fur-babies. I get that, I do. But I can’t imagine doing anything different. It’s just how we’re wired.

Do you have, or have you ever had a pet companion that cost you a fortune in medical care? Do you have veterinary insurance for your pets, and if so, has it been cost effective? Do you recommend it?

Thanks for hanging with me! See you next week for more of the Naked Truth.

Have a great Wednesday –


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