I swear I’m not an animal person, but here I am shopping for pet insurance.
I even used to be scared of dogs and was still when we were peer pressured by friends to patri-pressure Dad to get a dog. She turned out to be the World’s Greatest Dog, yet still I wore winter gloves while roughhousing for fear of her friendly, playful bites.
Through her, I more or less overcame cynophobia, but was still no pet lover. I did less than my fair share of dog-related chores, but isn’t that the natural order of things: the dad assumes all the pet’s responsibilities when the kids inevitably renege on the promises they made in their pleading?
The plan had always been to put the pet down if diagnosed with something people with comparable diagnoses have treatments for: cancer, dementia, heart disease, or general manginess. Pet insurance was a laughable luxury. It was an expense for weird or lonely people who send Christmas cards of their fur-babies and claim their parents have four-legged grandchildren.
My family doesn’t believe all dogs go to heaven – or that any animal does if we’re honest about it. But if the Lord doesn’t tarry, the joke is that during The Rapture we’ll grab Bailey on our way up.
My family’s communal obsession with Bailey’s cuteness and goodness lessened in me when I went to college out of state. Distance made my heart go and wander and my infatuation landed on my now wife, to whom I promised a cat in the event we got married.
We did, and she assured me that cats were hardly a bother. But she had grown up with the World’s Greatest Cat, so her research was hardly objective. She said cats clean themselves (so no baths) and are content to laze around (so no walks) and can babysit themselves over a long weekend (so no kennel fees).
Finn was cute as a kitten, but we didn’t recognize the trauma inflicted on him in the year the three of us lived in an apartment that didn’t receive any sun. So, when we came into the light, we saw who Finn really was: quick to hiss and bite and scratch. Not the loveable feline my wife envisioned when she was my girlfriend.
We’ve found fleas were hardly the worst issue since we started letting him roam outside. Finn has developed into a street fighter, apparently, and earned some wounds and a urinary issue.
When I would have scoffed at pet insurance – which was any moment until just the other day when I was told my outstanding vet debt – I thought pets were either alive and well or better off dead. But life too is laughable in the way things change. And though I’ve never been an animal person and since Finn’s diagnosis is chronic and not fatal, I’m now shopping for pet insurance.