Puppy power

Posted April 30th, 2006 by Penny Wise

My Mum has unwittingly thrown me a challenge! She keeps telling me I won’t be able to cope this winter without a tumble dryer since my old one packed up last year. I’m determined to prove her wrong! After all, people did without them for centuries before didn’t they? I’ve got a drying rack and spare washing lines strewn across the back porch, so what else do I need? Besides, I always find clothes are a dozen times harder to iron once they have been through a dryer, why make more work for myself? Nope, I’m determined to see through the wet months without rushing out and buying one. Although it’s not really the price I struggle with these days, you can pick one up fairly cheaply, but it’s the effect that dryers have on the power bill that I have issues with. Being a bit of a conservationist, I would much rather let my washing dry au natural than wasting precious resources on speed drying our family’s ‘smalls’.

Mind you, it’s not as if the budget would allow at the moment if I wanted to buy one anyway! What with the TV earlier in the week, $398 savings or not, it was still an unforeseen expense. To add insult to injury, would you believe that the blasted VCR decided to pack in the following day? I kid you not! On inserting our precious one-of-a-kind wedding video from 1994 for the kids’ benefit, the video recorder swallowed the tape and permanently refused to part with it, the door thingy first fell inwards, then off its hinges and now dwells somewhere deep inside the machine. On the positive side, the smiley salesman from the place we bought our TV has promised me a really good deal on a new model, but Noel refuses to give up just yet, until he’s ‘had a look at it’. The kids and I wait with bated breath, but you can’t rush these things…

To top off the week, I finally had enough of my slobbery Labrador Ella hobbling around on three legs and took her to get a second veterinary opinion. You may remember months back that we first thought she would need a costly operation on her leg, until our local vet scolded us that her lameness was simply due to her being overweight and we put her on a strict diet forthwith. Months down the track, the weight had fallen off, but Ella’s predicament only succeeded in worsening, until I could stand to watch her no more and took her to a vet further afield. Surprise, surprise – one look told us that she had what we had suspected all along; a ruptured cruciate ligament. At least the kindly vet did save us a further $80 on having to anaesthetise Ella twice; she had to get knocked out for extensive x-rays and the vet asked for consent to go and operate while she was still asleep if results deemed it necessary, rather than having to bring her round and then do it all again for surgery the following day. So at last count we are looking at $30 for three overnight stays, $280 for consultations and x-rays, plus a further $950 for surgery, painkillers and antibiotics. Of course I don’t have a problem with this, Ella is part of the family after all! What I do have a problem with, is that thanks to the stuff-up by the first vet, Ella will probably never be the same again. Because of the length of time her condition was left, she needed to have quite a lot of damaged cartilage removed. She will suffer from severe arthritis in her leg for the rest of her life, and will need regular injections and strong painkillers to help her cope with it. She will never chase rabbits, gleefully jump into the back of my car or take a flying leap into water troughs again. On the positive side, her strict diet has resulted in a massive 14kg loss. If only I could manage the same!

On the subject of animals, Ali’s birthday is coming up in a few months and we are on the lookout for a puppy. I know, sounds like it’s just what we need with our motley crew of canines already in residence, but if anyone deserves his own pet, it’s him. He has waited almost two years to be allowed his own puppy and he has his heart set on a Cocker Spaniel. However, finding one of the above is proving harder than we thought! What I am discovering on my search is the astonishing number of ‘designer mongrels’ for sale these days. I can’t believe it! What started out as a kind of cute novelty a few years ago has turned into a huge money maker for indiscriminate breeders. It all began with the accidental mating of spaniels and poodles, which launched a new ‘breed’ known as the ‘Spoodle’ several years back. In the last few weeks in my search for a likely pup I have managed to dredge up ‘Labradoodles’, ‘Cavoodles’ and even ‘Schnoodles’ all selling for $1000 or $1500 upwards. When I think of how a decade ago these types of puppies would have been lucky to fetch $50 at the local RSPCA, the greed of their owners makes me sick. Even the pet shops are jumping on the bandwagon. When visiting a local pet shop with Mum not so long ago, we were enchanted by some beautiful fluffy bundles whose take-home price was $1200. Needless to say at that price they had to stay there, but not before we asked the pet shop owner what breed they were. ‘They’re half Poodle, half Shih-Tzu’ the lady smiled. ‘Ahh,’ I smiled back sweetly. ‘So what breed does that make them then, a Shiht-Poo?’ Trust me, it didn’t go down well! At this rate, I’m thinking that the best place to find the perfect puppy for our little boy is at an animal shelter. Whatever breed we end up with, it’s going to be the best loved pet in the world and no amount of fancy breeding will change that!

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