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Pamela Fagan Hutchins | How do I love thee?

I am cheap.

No, not that kind of cheap.

I am fiscally tight.  Notoriously.

So…we went out to Nowheresville recently.  Yeah, it was awesome, as usual.  We even lured Eric’s youngest daughter and her boyfriend into coming with us.  We ran and biked; they fished and swam.  We saw five black wild boars with a bevy of white piglets.  We cooked out and made s’mores over a bonfire under the stars.  Liz and I picked june bugs out of our food.  The men carried the heavy things.  It was all good.

Outside a grocery store in Dime Box, Tx. After our purchase, Eric asked if they had a bathroom. The surly woman working the counter said, "Yeah, out at the highway," and turned her back on him. Ummm, what highway (it was about 20 miles away)? I believe she just said "F*** off, city-bicyclist-slickers," in small-town Texanese. Well, cross that town off our list of weekend bicycle excursion breakfast spots. It's a shame. It was a gorgeous ride.

Things went awry when Eric turned on the A/C in the Quacker.  Or, rather, when he attempted to turn on the A/C, and realized it no longer C’d the A, so to speak.  So off he trekked to Home Depot.  He toted back a schnazzy portable A/C.  Since it was 90 degrees (on March 26th!), I applauded this decision.  I did not know we had a few more expenditures to go along the way.

Our next calamity struck when the generator came to a grinding halt. Oopsie.  Out of gas?  NOOOOOO.  Out of….OIL.  Bad.  Dead generator.  Cha-ching.  *sigh*

But the big tragedy of the weekend, while expensive, cost more in terms of fear and suffering.  Our fear, Cowboy’s suffering.  Cowboy as in “Cowboy the Big Yellow Dog,” our 125-pound mutant yellow lab, the one who talks to us.

Cowboy, bless his little heart, got snake bit.  Right between the toes on one of his front paws.  Well, we didn’t know at the time that it was a snake bite, because we didn’t see it happen.  At first we thought he stepped on a thorn.  But when his paw swelled up to look like a cow’s hoof and all the poor animal could do was lay on his side in a fever and moan, it was pretty clear something more had happened.  By this time, it was Sunday night, though, so we veterinarianized him ourselves, with some advice from my Dr. Dad.  Mostly this consisted of rubbing his tummy, coo’ing to him, and soaking his paw in hot water.  The paw went poof in the hot water and all this yellowy gunk came out.  I let Eric take care of that part, because it made him feel manly.  And because I nearly vomited.

The next morning, the swelling had gone down considerably, but he still sported a fever and wanted us to know it.  My gosh that dog is talkative, even when he’s sick.  He couldn’t put weight on it, and it looked awful.  We were really worried about him.  So I took him to the vet.

Now, long history makes me terrified of the financial implications of entering a veterinary office.  This whole Cowboy-snake fiasco reminded me of two dog stories that I will tell later.  Y’all remind me.  But they were expensive.  Whoa.

Our last vet here in Houston had a way of not only overcharging us, but also making us feel like the lowest form of dog-and-cat-owning humanity on earth when we didn’t want to upgrade every service they offered to the limousine-and-caviar level.  We are awesome pet owners.  We love animals.  However, we do not think they poop gold bricks.  They’re our PETS, not our CHILDREN.  With apologies to people who believe their pets ARE their kids, we find it unavoidable to spend a much greater portion of our income on the human offspring than the canines and felines.  That’s just the way it has to be, because we don’t poop gold bricks either.  Sometimes we like the canines and felines better than the humans, but still we have no choice.

Last night, I went on a desperate internet search for a new vet.  I didn’t think I’d get very far with a google search of “veterinarians who don’t think your pets poop gold bricks”, though.  Eric came to the rescue. He had noticed a small house with a veterinary clinic in it about 15 minutes from our house, but in a more rural and less high-income area.  The online reviews of the vet were amazing, of the “walks on water” variety.  I was at their door at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, after lifting 125-pound Cowboy in and out of the back of our Suburban in order to get him there.  Man, I’m glad I took up swimming and weight lifting.

The only comments they made when I walked in?

Nurse:  Oh my, that’s a very big dog.

Vet:  Oh wow, your dog is…large.  I’m glad he’s friendly.

“Why, yes.  Yes, he is.”  :-)

THIS VET ROCKED.  Seriously, y’all.  If you need a vet in Houston, I’m the one to call for a referral.  I felt like the by-God queen of all pet owners when I left, and I gave them only $165.37 for the visit, his antibiotic shot, and a bag of painkillers, ointment, and amoxycillin.  Add to that the $4.39 cents I spent on chamamoille-scented spa-foot-bath epsom salts, and throw in a smidgen for a pair of cotton tube socks, baggies, and some masking tape, and that’s it.  No unnecessary platinum-plated treatment suggestions, and no “you must buy a doggie treadmill for this tub of goo along with a $2 million special prescription available-here-only diet dog food immediately or you will go to hell” lecture.   {Yes, he’s chunky.  He can’t help it.  Lady Gaga told me he was just born this way.}  Oh, and the vet said it was a poisonous snake bite.

David (the boyfriend) deduced it was from a water moccasin, because Cowboy bounded into the extremely low-water pond and started limping immediately thereafter.  Not to gross you out too much, but the normally two-acre pond is about 100 feet x 100 feet and probably a teeming, concentrated, writhing black mass o’moccasins.  Ick.

So, here are pictures and video of Pamelot and the pooch.  My poor tubby baby.

1.  Video — after vet, pre-home treatment

[youtube AKtnkm0yfhI]

Or Click here Cowboy Gets Bit By a Water Moccasin

2.  The pics

Sad face. He doesn't like the foot bath. Not even a GIANT beef-basted rawhide bone is making the prospect more attractive to him.

See how his foot looks like a hoof? And this is half the size of last night. See his muddy hip? He was too sick for a bath.

Poor tootsies. :-(

By now, he's hurting so much and feeling so betrayed that he won't even look at me. Or touch the bone. Time for ointment, and meds tucked in a hotdog.

The tube sock is masking-taped on, and his head is turned EVEN FURTHER away. When he goes outside, he also has to wear a baggy over his sock. We repeat all this twice a day until it heals.

Finally. He hides on his pillow with his bone. After a 2-minute chew, he falls into a traumatized sleep. Sick kids, sick pets...heart-wrenching. I'm just glad he didn't have to have surgery.

The vet warned us that if it doesn’t heal, Cowboy will have to have some minor surgery to explore whether there is anything stuck up in his foot.  But the chances are slim.

Send Cowboy some lovin’, y’all.


p.s. Weekend tally for that little Nowheresville jaunt?  Close to $1000.00.  How do I love thee, Eric and Cowboy?  Let me count the one thousand ways :-)

p.p.s.  Proving that I lack what it takes to whore out my family for reality TV (darn), I was so worried about Cowboy that I forgot to take pictures when his paw was gigantic, and at the vet.  Rats.

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40 Responses to How do I love thee?

  1. Aww, poor Cowboy! Hope he recovers quickly.
    At least you got a great new (and reasonable) vet out of the ordeal.

  2. ah, puppy love. we recently had to spend $$$ for our dog to get rabies/etc shots so that we could pay the town some $ for what i call the dog-tax. whole thing is stupid. the cops are more likely to be called out because of our 13 year old son than for our little rat-dog (jack russel w/long legs), but we don’t have to put special tags on or pay extra for the kid. odd.

    i hope that Cowboy is on the mend, and that he has nice drug induced dreams, not ones that are filled with creepy crawly snakes. i hate snakes.

    • Pamela says:

      LOL, “we don’t have to put special tags on or pay extra for the kid.” AGREE!
      Cowboy is doing great.
      And I hate snakes too. Eric bought “Snake be gone” pellets for around our abode (ahem, our TRAILER). We’ll be testing them out this weekend.

  3. Eric Hutchins says:

    It seems like he is talking more than ever (read whining) now that its getting better. Its like he got used to the extra attention. my foot hurts sooooo bad mommy…..

  4. Sandy says:

    Oh man, I feel your pain about the vet. The one that we use makes me feel like the worst pet owner EVER because I don’t do all the things that I’m supposed to do in their opinion. Oh well…like you said, they’re my dogs, not my children.

    Here’s to hoping that Cowboy gets better! What a traumatic experience for all of you!

    • Pamela says:

      It’s just that GUILT. Ugh. I hate it. But I’d like to pay for my kids college and medical emergencies, and if I cave into the nazi vet, I won’t be able to!

  5. Lee says:

    I wonder if we go to the same vet…You should have called me. Love ours. Southwest Animal Clinic. Abbe gets thrilled when we go there. They are awesome and don’t cost a fortune!

  6. Poor Cowboy. He’s so beautiful. I’m glad he has nice humans who take good care of him. And I think your family would make an excellent reality show. I mean how could anyone resist ballroom dancing, fornicating frogs and water moccasin laced pools. Not to mention the talking pooches. John and Kate Plus 8 have nothing on you guys!

  7. Irene says:

    Awww, poor baby! He looked so sad. And he actually keeps that sock on his foot? He doesn’t try to chew it off? That’s amazing! That video was hilarious! I love when dogs talk to ya! I was cracking up! I love your blog! It’s always so interactive!

    Ah, screw the bitch at the store. Her loss. Sounds like a lot of the locals in my area.

    I had an emergency pet visit two weeks ago with my cat (sadly I had to have her put down-she threw a blood clot and lost the use of her legs and had heavy congestion in her lungs) and it’s $150 just walking in the door! So you muster up some energy and try to clear your head and write a check. Then after they did their duty, they revise that check and add the other $130 some odd dollars to your initial payment. Again, you take a deep breath, clear your head and dry your eyes and write another check, voiding the old one. WTF? Bill me next time, ok? Like who walks in with that kind of money? Especially if the animal is in distress? The last thing I was thinking about was payment. Luckily I had the check book on me!

    • Pamela says:

      I think that’s a good idea — sending a bill. That’s what hospitals do. It’s an odd dynamic to ask for money from someone who just lost a family member.

      Thank you re Cowboy and the blog/video :)
      Yes, he left the sock on for the first few days, a testament to how shitty he felt. When he started to heal, the sock, he didn’t tolertae the sock anymore. It’s been 9 days now, and he is really doing well. We love the big galoot.

  8. Eric Hutchins says:

    He is the closest thing to a child I have ever had in a pet. He talks to us. He has distinct mannerisms. He wants to be close to us, wants to play, goes and finds a toy when we come home to see if we are up for playing. And he has incredibly thoughtful eyes.
    He is so gentle and playful, but I am 100% certain that if Pamela or the kids were ever in any kind of danger he would be terrifying. Cool dog.

    • Pamela says:

      Yeah, it’s funny how many different ways he has to talk to us that are distinctive and used in always the same types of situations — we know what he means
      * flaps his ears
      * huge yawns
      * whines
      * talks
      * chases us and us him like a puppy (he’s 8 and a half)
      * brings us things
      * lays on his back and curls his feet in the air with his head to the side (passive resistance/please don’t make me)
      * sticks his legs out and holds us as we walk by
      * puts his paw on your hand, and if you put your other hand on his paw, he puts his on yours and continues the game until you walk away
      etc etc etc I could go on and on. He is a love. And he HAS gotten protective before. Growly protective, but also when Sami was littler, he would herd her like a sheep, especially in new sitatuions. We took him on a hike to the Baths (or Tidal Pools) on St. Croix and he all but knocked me off a cliff protecting her from the drop off, and he had to be restrained from drowning us in the water when she got in to swim, his paws were bleeding from running up the rocks and jumping in after her when she’d jump off the side. She was 6. He was distraught. She was HIS BABY.

      Love that boy.

      And then there’s the whole story of you bribing airport officials to get him off St. Croix b/c he was over the weight limmit. $500 dollars later, he came to Texas. Step-dad/hero status. Should I admit that on my blog? Is there a statute of limitations? 😉

  9. LBDDiaries says:

    What a (big) sweetie he is – as is Layla – video is great “awwww” factor. So glad he is doing better.

    • Pamela says:

      I love the final frame of Layla’s sweet, patient face as she sneaks a little love while Cowboy protests every morsel directed her way.

  10. Ally says:

    Poor Cowboy! I have fallen in love with that dog from way over here in Seattle. He seems like a giant sweetheart. Even when he’s giving you the cold shoulder about soaking his foot. 😉

  11. Poor, pitiful Cowboy. He is one handsome dog. (The other one’s pretty cute, too, but this is Cowboy’s show, I think.) So cute that he talks. We tried to teach our pit/pointer to say “I love you” because his whining when he wants to come inside and we’re just teasing him sounds very much like it.

  12. Heidi M says:

    Oh, Cowboy is my fave, pitiful little thang!! And yes, we love our PETS, too, but refuse to jump on board with MRIs, exploratories, and trips to the UGA Vet School, blah blah blah. I think they put vets through some kind of guilt-the-owners training to rack up the bills.
    Sending Cowboy some GA love and hoping Michelle and BF weren’t swimming in the water mocassin infested waters!

    • Pamela says:

      The pitiful little thang is nearly all better now. He is extremely playful (in a galloping galoot way) as he returns to the blessing of good help.

  13. ridgely says:

    Because Sammy, at 7 months old, has already swallowed a mouthful of my meds, stomach pumped, swallowed a pin (I saw him do it, so hard to ignore) had endoscopic retrieval… we NOW have pet insurance– so glad Cowboy is ok… very lucky. Loved the post 😉

  14. Rebecca Nolen says:

    I’ve had similar experience at a vet’s here in town. I love this post. Poor Cowboy.

  15. Susie says:

    I can’t believe Samantha let YOU take care of him. She loves him sooooooo much.

  16. Sandy says:

    Oh my! Poor Cowboy. I have to admit that I will spend a fortune on my animals….but I have no kids…so animals it is! Give him a giant hug for me!

  17. Cowboys and snakes go together like dogs and little critters. Poor big guy, though. Musta been really painful for him. Sometimes I wonder if dogs don’t go looking for trouble just so they can get loved up afterward. My little dog finds his way under my footsteps sometimes and then he gets all the hugs he can handle. For a minute. But with two other little kids running around gobbling up all my attention he sure appreciates that minute!

    Biking sounds so wonderful!! Here in MN we just had our first 60 degree day. Hooray! But we’ve been cooped up in the house breathing the same air for months. Can’t wait to spend more time outside. Lucky you!!

    • Pamela says:

      I lived in MN when I was in kindergarten and 1st grade — Osseo and other places in the Mpls-St.P area. It’s so freaking COLD!!! I am not a big fan of the cold (that’s the world’s greatest understatement). Sixty degrees to me is like arctic freeze-level. We are lucky to have such a long bicycling season here. We ride outside from March through November. But then again it is 100 degree through September, and gets up to 110+ and is 95% humidity. Bicycling and swimming highly preferable to running in that weather.
      I digress.
      Yes, Cowboy has wallowed in the attention, and I do believe that dogs, the little attention sluts, will do anything for it. And that he is a giant dork who bumbles into trouble thinking just because he has a giant dinosaur like skull that he is impervious to danger. He’s our baby at heart, though.

      WHERE’S MY APRON 😉 by the way? They really are cute. I had on an apron last night and thought how much cuter I’d look in one of yours. If I don’t win it, I’ll have to get one of my kids to get it for me for mother’s day, which translates to “I’ll have to buy one for myself, tell the kids they’re giving it to me, wrap it myself, and open it when they can’t be bothered to be around b/c they’re too busy with their social lives.” (I love our kids — but they are teenagers…which is all the explanation I think anyone needs…)

  18. Grace says:

    My dachshunds have been bitten by copperheads before. Those suckers go after snakes and end up getting bitten on the nose. But after a $500 vet bill following a snake bite, we found out that snakebites won’t kill a dog (at least, not a dachshund). They swell up like Rosie O’Donnell at a Ho-Ho’s buffet, but they don’t die. So now I give them Benadryl, and they’re fine.

    But I hear you on the vet thing. I just switched from the luxury vet in St. Augustine to a guy who’s very practical. It’s going to be a good thing for me and my dogs.

    I hope Cowboy’s better!

    • Pamela says:

      Rosie o donnel at a ho hos buffet–that’s funny :)
      Yeah a person needs 40k worth of anitvenom, a dog needs a place to sleep it off. We ended up taking cowboy in because he had te burst abscess from it. Otherwise, he was only getting our sincere sympathy.

  19. […] Cowboy the Big Yellow Dog and Layla have almost forgiven us.  Petey is smaller than Cowboy’s head, so we have wooed Cowboy, hoping to make Petey a friend rather than a snack.  We presented Cowboy with a giant yellow squeaky duck and a few treats, and that seemed to get him over the hump. […]

  20. […] And I love the big yellow dog; I have since he was our silly puppy.  I always will. […]

  21. […] So what happened to the canine crew of Annly? Well, Little Bear died of bee stings on St. Croix, sadly.  When we moved to the states, our nanny kept Callia and our house sitters kept Jake.  Karma came with us, but has since relocated to a country home with a new family.  And you’ve read about Cowboy, if you follow this blog. He’s pretty popular. […]

  22. […] a step. The charm of the place wore thin after a few hours. He’d limp around on city paws. He lost in a fight with a water mocassin, although even that couldn’t stop him for long. He would stay curled up in the shade rather […]

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