Four weeks ago we found out our Boxer puppy, Marshall, has congenital kidney disease. Ten months old, he’d been struggling with frequent accidents and the almost constant need to urinate. It’s been almost 30 years since we’ve had a young male puppy, so I initially chalked it up to gender and age. After two separate rounds of antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs) he continued to have issues. Within days of finishing the medication, his symptoms returned, including excessive thirst. A month ago we went back to the vet, who performed a couple of tests. I honestly hadn’t even considered that there might be something seriously wrong with Marshall, but there is.
Before getting our first farm animals and before my husband’s retirement from his company, we had pet insurance. Call me crazy, but it seemed to make sense for several years. I had the mindset that most days our pets are cheaper than therapy. Our beloved white Boxer, Zoe, had cancer twice before passing away at the age of 11. Her surgeries were mostly covered under the policy. Stella, who is now 11 years old, has a history of pancreatitis and other conditions.
But now we own a farm. We have nine pigs, six ducks, two donkeys and one livestock guardian dog. Every week or two we buy feed for them. Often fencing needs to be repaired to keep them safe. Once in a while we need to buy medication or take one to the vet. Besides the financial responsibility, there’s a time commitment now that we didn’t have two years ago.
If you own a farm or ranch, you’ve probably faced the same struggle we’re navigating these days. With all of the animals we have, how much money and time can/should we spend on any one animal?
When I consider our farm animals, versus the dogs who live inside our home, I know I look at them in a different way. I’m not as connected emotionally to them. Samson may be the only exception. He’s our livestock guardian dog, but he’s also our pet. He lives and works on the farm, protecting our livestock and guests who stay in our glamping tents. When he was hit by a car this past spring, we rushed him to the vet and even took him to a specialist for a consult, before finding out his broken pelvis was healing on its own.
So as we continue down the road of treating Marshall for kidney disease, we’ll do what we can to get him the care he needs. We’re grateful for an understanding veterinarian who is working with us, making us aware of all the options. And we’re thankful for our kids, animal lovers themselves, who have supported us in so many ways since Marshall’s diagnosis. Although the prognosis at this time isn’t great – possibly two more years before his kidneys completely fail – we plan to give him the best life possible. He’ll go on daily walks with me. He’ll go to the farm most every day with my husband Houston. And he’ll run around exploring our land with Samson, his very best friend.
Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at [email protected] For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, …….