How much would you spend on your pet’s health?

I just read this blog entry, collision detection: Fixing Nemo, on Clive Thompson’s blog yesterday about how much would you be willing to spend to save your pet’s life.  Clive says he’d pay $1000.  I say it would depend on the expected outcome.  I’d pay a lot more if I was guaranteed a 100% recovery.  But if you said I was only prolonging life by a month or two or my dog would be in severe pain forever, I probably wouldn’t pay anything.  For problems in between, it’s a hard decision, as I was reminded this morning.

How much you’d pay for a pet’s health is a debate that I’ve had with many of my friends.  I’ve also seen couples get into very heated arguments over how much was appropriate to spend on their dog’s hip surgery or their ferret’s cancer.  It hit home this morning when I took my dog Teddy to the vet.  When I watched them writing "acting funny" as the reason for the visit, I felt kind of stupid.  It took a force of will to stay – to remind myself that I really did think there was a problem and what I had described was more than "acting funny" in my opinion.  I felt stupid because I was about to pay $38 to find out if why my dog was "acting funny".  That would pay for a very nice dinner tonight. 

As it turns out, Teddy is in pain, so I was correct in thinking that "acting funny" might be serious.  However, I spent $150 to find out that she has a disk protrusion, i.e. a slipped disk, so while I was right, something was wrong, I spent $150 to learn that Teddy should take it easy for a while (no running!) and take doggie aspirin.  Was it money well spent?

See more dog posts at my Humans for Dogs blog.

Dogs can too understand people

Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they can understand you. An article in last week’s Economist, 2/21/04 "Sensitive souls", describes an experiment that proves it. Brian Hare from Harvard University did an experiment where he put food under one of two inverted cups. A human then sat behind the cups and indicated the cup with the food, either by pointing, looking, or tapping. Dogs always got the food. Chimpanzees and wolves didn’t do any better than chance. He even tried it with dogs with little human contact. Dogs could read the human experimenter’s facial expression and figure out which cup the food was under.

So dogs can read your facial expression, and within reason, figure out what you’re trying to tell them. But then anybody with a dog knew that.

Although my experience has been that they can understand lots of words. They just get left behind in the grammar arena. Telling a dog that someone is not coming after you’ve told them they are coming, is impossible.

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