Saturday, October 10, 2009

Phony Vet: Happy to Take Your Questions, Life Savings

As just one more way to serve the public, I'm offering to answer your questions about your pet's health problems.  

Sure, I have no formal training in veterinary medicine, but I feel qualified to offer animal care advice because I know how to recommend expensive procedures that probably aren't necessary.

Dear Phony Vet: My dog has been coughing up some foamy mucous mixture about 40 times a day. In the middle of the night the continuous hacking is loud enough to make your ears bleed.  What's going on?  Sincerely, Tired of Cleaning my Carpets in Corinna.

Dear Tired: What a coincidence! My dog, Bailey, just had this exact same problem. I took her to a "real" veterinarian, who said the problem might be difficult to nail down, so we might as well try the most expensive solution first.  After we spent $400 over three weeks on tests, pills, and special food, Bailey was no better.  

The vet said x-rays were the next step ($250), possibly followed by surgery (untold thousands).  In the meantime, we decided to try some de-wormer ($30), which fixed her up within 12 hours.  

Initially, I wondered: Couldn't we have tried that three weeks ago? But that was before I realized a vet couldn't stay in business that way.

Dear Phony Vet: How do you prevent fin rot?  Sincerely, Tanked in North Turner.

Dear Tanked: Simple. Do not buy any goldfish.

Dear Phony Vet: My cat is dead. I just buried it in the back yard. What should I do? Sincerely, Sad in Stetson.

Dear Sad: Go back and dig up your cat to make sure it's really yours. I'm not kidding.

Take heed from a recent story out of Winchester, MA , in which a woman buried a cat she thought was hers, only to have her real cat returned to her three weeks later.

The cat, a Maine Coon named Evander "Stinky" Rucki, frequently hung out in the local high school library, and was well-known throughout the community. But its owner somehow confused it for another cat corpse.

This type of thing would never happen with a dog, because dogs: a) answer to their names, and b) are too stupid to wriggle out of their collars and are thus easy to keep tagged.

But I can understand how this would happen with a cat. Cat emotions and behaviors range from expecting to be treated like royalty all the way to expecting to be waited on, hand and paw. 

My wife's cat, Mia, frequently mews and scratches at the door, demanding to be let out at 4 a.m. My wife insists that if I get up to let her out, I'm training her to do it again. But I do it anyway, because then I can be back to sleep in five minutes, instead of waiting an hour for the damn creature to give up and be quiet.

Besides, everyone knows you can't train a cat to do anything.

So, yes, if two cats ended up with the same markings and body type, it would be impossible to tell them apart. If Mia ever dies, all I have to do is find her doppelganger and bring it home, and everyone will be happy.

Dear Phony Vet: My dog has a hot spot. What do you recommend?  Sincerely, Loaded in Lubec.

Dear Loaded: First, let's graft some replacement skin over the wound. That will be $1500. If that doesn't work, try some corn starch on it.

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