The Value of a Dog

Gala. The million dollar dog.

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Okay, not a million, but certain the several thousand dollar dog. Between her rescue, heartworm treatment, four months of foster care, and now the broken jaw, this dog is costing some serious money.

I’ve been thinking about this fact. Why do we pour all this money into a stray dog from South Carolina? She’s just one dog, and a difficult one at that.

And then I think—it’s just money.

That’s the same thing I tell myself when my children cost a fortune or we lose money on something stupid or we need an expensive repair on the car or the house.

Because it is just money. And doing right by this dog is far more important than money.

A noble thought, but it won’t pay her bill. She’s not the most expensive dog OPH has rescued, not by far. I’ve watched much more expensive efforts be made by this organization to save a life. Not that they throw money around willy-nilly; they certainly consider each penny before it’s spent and they’ve made more than a few hard decisions. But it’s rare that money is the only consideration.

Dogs are expensive. That’s a fact that seems to slip the minds of plenty of people. And for whatever reason – ignorance or arrogance—there are plenty of people out there who don’t think a rescue dog should cost a lot. After all, a purebred dog could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There’s a mindset that since you’re saving a dog no one wanted or possibly a dog someone threw away, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

OPH’s adoption fee is $335 ($375 for puppies, but you get a $60 rebate after you spay/neuter). This includes spay/neuter, vaccines, wormings (with puppies this can be 6-8 times or more), and microchip, not to mention the expenses most adopters don’t consider like the original health screening and treatment, transportation, and food. And with many dogs there are other expenses.

Dug had to visit the vet and be treated for demadex mange this week.

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(And before you freak out at the word, mange, rest assured that demadex mange is non-contagious. Many times it’s stress-induced. Perhaps being starved would induce stress. When Dug arrived here just over two weeks ago, he weighed 11 pounds, now he weighs almost 20 pounds.)

And Gala, well, you know how the bill is running up on Gala.

As you can see, even the adoption fee for a healthy dog that doesn’t get kicked in the head by a horse or develop demadex mange, doesn’t begin to cover the cost of saving that dog.

Gala’s steadily increasing bill is weighing on my heart, so much so that Nick and I plan to help pay some of her expenses. A few readers have asked if they can pitch in and I would welcome that – not just to cover Gala’s bill, but to help with all the other dogs who also require medical care.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so by writing a check to OPH Rescue and mailing (or giving ) it to me at 1568 Deer Creek Road, New Freedom, PA 17349 or  to Operation Paws for Homes, PO Box 90813, Alexandria, VA 22309. If you’d rather donate with a credit card, you can do so through the website OPHrescue.org (although paypal takes their piece of credit card donations).

Okay, enough about money, what you came here to read about is dogs!

Before I tell you about the puppies (what? Yes- puppies!), let me give you the update on dear Gala with the broken head.

Last week I drove Gala to a vet in Virginia. Dr. Walker took additional xrays and examined Gala and decided that it might be possible to avoid surgery if Gala will tolerate being crated wearing a muzzle and cone 24/7. Because my wonderful vet, Chris Hunsinger, was able to create a ‘tape muzzle’ for her so soon after the accident, none of her bones have shifted despite multiple fractures. Avoiding surgery would be a GREAT thing not just because of the expense, but also because Gala had heartworm treatment just three months ago and putting her compromised heart under anesthesia would be a huge risk that she might not survive.

Dr. Walker kept her for three days to be sure she was going to tolerate the conditions without jarring her jaw. She did great, and I trooped back down to VA to pick her up this past weekend. OPH lent me an enormous crate for Gala so her confinement wouldn’t feel so confining.

On the night before I picked up Gala, Nick assembled the crate in our living room, we figured Gala would like a room with entertainment. She’d be able to binge watch Parks & Rec, The Office, and Jane the Virgin with my teenage daughter. When Nick finished setting up the crate, he yelled, “When’s the baby elephant arriving?”

I had no idea what he was talking until I saw the crate. It is huge. I can sit inside with Gala. In fact several of us could sit inside with Gala. Even the baby elephant. Gracie watched the empty crate warily the next day before Gala arrived, I’m sure all kinds of terrifying thoughts were going through her mind.

So far, so good with Gala. She likes her ‘slurry’ (which sounds like a yummy treat  from Dairy Queen, but is actually watered down canned dog food mashed to a runny consistency). She is trying to be calm on the leash and is getting better at not battering me with the edges of her cone as we walk. Mostly she lies in her ginormous crate looking very forlorn.

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As I’ve weaned her off her pain meds, she has become more determined to get the muzzle and cone off, but hopefully she won’t and we can avoid the Frankensteinish surgery (screws coming out of her face and wires connecting them) that will be required if she does. Fingers crossed.

Dug left yesterday with an understanding adopter who isn’t afraid of demodex or a mouthy puppy with an oversize appetite. She’s one smart lady to see past these temporary issues to the amazing dog Dug will be. I’m betting he will not only be a gorgeous dog, he will be a really good dog. He’s the first puppy I’ve had who I could take off-leash outside and trust to stick with me. He’s definitely one I could have kept, so I’m happy for this wonderful dog whose story could have ended much differently.

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Now, puppies! Before you make some assumption about me taking on more than I should or pushing my family, house, and cleaning abilities to the limit, let me just say – lab puppies with houndish ears! And they were found on the side of the road beside their dead mother. Tell me you would be able to resist!

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I was braced for the worst, but the only bad part about my highway pups, was the horrendous drive south to get them. I tried to avoid the rush hour traffic by driving the back roads, but it seems everyone had that grand plan, plus every construction vehicle owned by the states of Maryland and Virginia had somewhere to be and was getting paid by the hour. It’s never taken me so long to get to Fauquier County. The drive back was mercifully quick, which was a good thing as the car was perfumed with the lovely combined scent of puppy poop and puppy barf.

The pups are in surprisingly good shape which tells me they weren’t strays. If they’d been strays for any length of time, they’d be much thinner and full of worms and wouldn’t love people so much. They are a healthy weight, have a shiny coat, no sign of worms, and LOVE people. (My family can attest to this as they CRY and WHINE and BARK when they know anyone is nearby and not paying attention to them. A few of them also climbed right out of the puppy pen to find us, forcing me to go find a taller puppy pen fence.)

So if they weren’t strays, what were they doing on the side of the highway?

I’ve mentioned before that people are horrible. (Not you, but people.)

Instead of taking mom and pups to a shelter, I’m guessing some remarkable individual simply opened the car door and threw them out like litter. I try not to think too much about where they’ve come from and focus on where they are going. No doubt they will be adopted quickly. These are some gorgeous, fun, clever pups! (If you were looking for a lab puppy, you better get your application in yesterday.)

I’ll tell you more about them as I get to know them in the coming weeks, but let me introduce – the highway pups:

Cadillac
Cadillac
Harley D
Bug
Bug
Opel
Opel
Beamer
Dart
Dart

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like more updates on the puppies, Gala, and past fosters, be sure to join my Another Good Dog facebook group where I post pictures, news and videos and we occasionally hear from adopters of previous foster dogs.

If you’d like to know more about my writing, I’d be thrilled if you visited my website, CaraWrites.com where you’ll find links to my blogs and books, plus more pictures of foster dogs!

If you’d like to apply to adopt Gala or any of the Highway pups, click here.

If you’d like more information on volunteering, fostering, and/or donating, click here.

Have a great fourth of July weekend! And if you’re local, please come visit the pups – they LOVE company!

Blessings,

Cara

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Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

5 thoughts on “The Value of a Dog”

  1. Dear, dear Cara, I will gladly write a check and send it to you when I get back from California! Love the huge crate and I truly hope Gala won’t have to have surgery. The highway pups are gorgeous. The dead mom is heartbreaking. About how old are the pups? I have to say that I haven’t seen any dead animals on the highways here in San Diego since I have been here and in La Jolla there was a huge resale store that donated profits to animal charity. I see lots of folks with dogs on leashes at the outdoor cafes. Such a change from Texas.

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    1. Thanks Laura! The pups are about 8 weeks old. They are adorable and a really nice litter – easier than some. My brother and his family live in El Cajon, so I’ve been out that way quite a few times. Safe travels!

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  2. Still sending good vibes for you and Gala! Those pups are adorable, glad their sad situation is looking up! 😘😘

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