Vertrees: Caring for animal companions a pet project
By Carrol vertrees For the Post-Tribune March 10, 2012 5:22PM
Updated: April 12, 2012 9:51AM
Back on the farm in the days of yore or maybe before, folks often used the expression “I was sick as a dog.” I never knew what that meant, and still don’t.
Dog sickness was mostly a mystery, and we did not know much about healing them. But life and death in the animal kingdom is changing. Down here in Florida where Snowbirds flock in, the presence of a pet seems to be as vital as health food, like doughnuts.
I learned the other day that a company in the Fort Myers area provides ambulance service for dangerously sick pets, usually dogs, I suspect. Pets, for older folks, are an antidote for loneliness, so this new approach is a serious matter. This ambulance has an oxygen device and a defibrillator.
I don’t know if there is a Medicare thing for pets, but health insurance seems logical.
Doctoring pets has become an advanced, essential service, a sign of the times. In my kid days, long before I could spell defibrillator — I had not heard of it anyway — our local vet spent most of his time tending to cows and horses. One day in downtown Elnora, Old Doc Montgomery tangled with a rabid dog and it was a fatal encounter for both. We called it a “mad dog.” Folks talked about that for a long time.
On the farm, dogs like our collie named Major roamed the territory and when they got sick we did not know what ailed them. But when we got painfully sick, we were “sick as a dog.” Most of us, and the dogs, recovered.
This new medical venture has a lot of promise here in the land of aging Snowbirds and permanent residents. With this emphasis on pet care, we may hear the expression “healthy as a dog.”
So far, I have not heard what people do with pet snakes that get sick — I don’t even guess why anybody has such a pet, but mine is not to reason why, I reckon. Often pet snakes are just dumped out, and some of them grow monstrously big and in the Everglades they eat up the normal wildlife residents — birds and little animals.
On the other coast of our wonderful country, there is a crisis involving parrots — the question is not how to heal them, but how to handle their habit of growing old, way past the lifetimes of their owners. Parrots just seem to hang around indefinitely, and folks in the Los Angeles area don’t know how to handle the parrot thing.
There is a move on to rescue and save these aging birds from being abandoned when their owners pass on. I am surprised that none of the presidential aspirants has come out with a save-the-parrot plea, but they may do it later.
Parrots talk a lot and have no tact. I like the story about a parrot that lived for years in a house where women entertained men — you know what I mean. The bird was given to a pet shop and a caring woman bought it and took it home, wanting to surprise her faithful husband. She knew the bird’s history, but didn’t care.
When her husband came home, the parrot squawked: “Hi, Bill.” I wonder if that guy needed a defibrillator.