Saving our dog

Article by: Jana Salt


My mum came home one day and couldn’t find our dog. She searched for twenty minutes before finding him curled outside in a bush, soaked from the rain. His bladder was bursting and he wasn’t able to relieve himself or walk.

He was tested at the Animal Hospital and $3000 later, they diagnosed him: bladder stones that were likely caused by a degenerative liver shunt.

My mum called me crying, “We can’t afford the surgery.” The dilemma was implicit. Neither of us wanted to convey it in actual words. I drove as fast as I could. She was in the car with Bondie and I hopped in, we looked at each other with our puffy faces and cried.

When my dad arrived we went to see the Vet. My dad was a huge former soldier who scared everyone who saw him, who I have always fought with on every topic, who would hate going to any social gathering because he hates being around people.

Mum and I were hugging each other as Bondie anxiously explored the room. My dad was in power-mode asking all the questions. “What can go wrong with the surgery?” The vet answered unemotionally, “There is always the risk of complications. Little dogs can go into shock or he might not come out of the anaesthesia. We may need to do a corrective surgery afterwards.”

The vet left us to make a decision. “We’re going to fix him” my dad said, “I can work Sundays as well as Saturdays from now on. I don’t care if I have to work another year before I retire.”

I would like to say that my dad saved Bondie for his wife, because she loved that little guy. I know she was part of the reason, but I also suspected that there was something else. He definitely loved Bondie, as evidenced by how he would cook premium steak for him and chop it up into dog-sized pieces. But that night I asked him why he chose to sacrifice so much.

“When I was shot and burned over a third of my body” he said “there were two surgeons who wrote me off. Said I was going to die no matter what, said there was no use in trying. But the third surgeon – he was a lot younger – said there was still a chance. And he saved me. I think Bondie deserves that chance.”

I had been too hard on my Dad my entire life. I had put him into a box; had accepted that I knew who he was and that was that.  I realised you should never put anyone in a box because one day, they might surprise you. In the meantime, you’re missing out on getting to know them more.


Image attribution: Jana Salt