Queen Elizabeth’s corgi has died and I feel sincerely bad about it.
I have lost lots of pets, and it’s awful every single time. It’s a deeply unsettling feeling not to be able to hold a conversation with an ill pet. You want to somehow reassure or prepare him for what lies ahead, but all you can really do is scratch him behind the ears and let him sleep on the sofa. It’s simply not enough.
Many years ago, I had a black lab named King Oberon. He was one hell of a dog, and I loved him very much. When we found out he had cancer in his foot, we had a surgeon operate immediately, even though it was a ridiculously expensive procedure. The operation proved to be unsuccessful in removing the cancer, and the veterinarian suggested we amputate Oberon’s toe. We looked at our sick dog, we looked at the looming bill, and we were paralyzed by indecision.
My dad had a wide social circle, so he started asking around and found a country vet with a solid reputation who would do the surgery for a fraction of the cost.
“It’s not a complicated operation,” the veterinarian said. “It will be two-hundred and fifty dollars to amputate the toe.”
Sold! We made the appointment, and the procedure went off without a hitch.
Several years later my dad was in the hospital with a severe staph infection.
The doctor came in to discuss options. “We are going to stick with our current course of treatment,” he said. “But, if we don’t see substantial improvement soon, we may have to amputate the toe.”
“Hey, Dad,” I said, “That’s not a problem. I know a guy who will do it for two-hundred and fifty bucks.”
My mother hid her face and used her church laugh, a wheezing giggle she emitted when she knew she was not supposed to laugh, but simply couldn’t help herself.
My dad turned to me. “You’re not funny,” he said.