On being thankful for pets

Americans spent $15.4 billion on veterinary care in 2015 (only half of it by us). The average American spends more on pets annually than on alcohol, landline phones, or men’s and boys’ clothing. We spend more on veterinary care for our dogs than the average person spends for his own medical care in the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, and many other countries. Even knowing that we’re a devoted nation of pet lovers, it’s still surreal to visit the specialists’ office and see the range of possibilities on the office wall — cardiology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, etc, etc. We’ll need the oncologist soon.

Vets always speak of the “patient,” rarely the dog or cat. When Gipper needed an ACL repair (oh yeah, ka-ching), the doctor called to give me a progress report. The “patient” was in recovery and doing well. Then the orthopedist paused, coughed, and apologized, explaining, “I had a frog in my throat.” Something made me say, “Not a patient I hope.”

The world is apparently divided between dog and cat people. I love both. Dogs are uncanny in their understanding of us and their delight in our company. But cats are just as devoted. They may not weep with joy when we return from a one-day absence, as our current Golden, Cali (that’s Coolidge), unfailingly does, but they curl up in your lap and purr like a living muff. Our cats adore people — well, me — and if they could, they would spend roughly 23 and a half hours of every 24 right next to me.