I am cheap.

No, not that kind of cheap.

I am fiscally tight.  Notoriously.

So…we went out to Nowheresville recently.  Yeah, it was awesome, as usual.  We even lured Eric’s youngest daughter and her boyfriend into coming with us.  We ran and biked; they fished and swam.  We saw five black wild boars with a bevy of white piglets.  We cooked out and made s’mores over a bonfire under the stars.  Liz and I picked june bugs out of our food.  The men carried the heavy things.  It was all good.

Outside a grocery store in Dime Box, Tx. After our purchase, Eric asked if they had a bathroom. The surly woman working the counter said, "Yeah, out at the highway," and turned her back on him. Ummm, what highway (it was about 20 miles away)? I believe she just said "F*** off, city-bicyclist-slickers," in small-town Texanese. Well, cross that town off our list of weekend bicycle excursion breakfast spots. It's a shame. It was a gorgeous ride.

Things went awry when Eric turned on the A/C in the Quacker.  Or, rather, when he attempted to turn on the A/C, and realized it no longer C’d the A, so to speak.  So off he trekked to Home Depot.  He toted back a schnazzy portable A/C.  Since it was 90 degrees (on March 26th!), I applauded this decision.  I did not know we had a few more expenditures to go along the way.

Our next calamity struck when the generator came to a grinding halt. Oopsie.  Out of gas?  NOOOOOO.  Out of….OIL.  Bad.  Dead generator.  Cha-ching.  *sigh*

But the big tragedy of the weekend, while expensive, cost more in terms of fear and suffering.  Our fear, Cowboy’s suffering.  Cowboy as in “Cowboy the Big Yellow Dog,” our 125-pound mutant yellow lab, the one who talks to us.

Cowboy, bless his little heart, got snake bit.  Right between the toes on one of his front paws.  Well, we didn’t know at the time that it was a snake bite, because we didn’t see it happen.  At first we thought he stepped on a thorn.  But when his paw swelled up to look like a cow’s hoof and all the poor animal could do was lay on his side in a fever and moan, it was pretty clear something more had happened.  By this time, it was Sunday night, though, so we veterinarianized him ourselves, with some advice from my Dr. Dad.  Mostly this consisted of rubbing his tummy, coo’ing to him, and soaking his paw in hot water.  The paw went poof in the hot water and all this yellowy gunk came out.  I let Eric take care of that part, because it made him feel manly.  And because I nearly vomited.

The next morning, the swelling had gone down considerably, but he still sported a fever and wanted us to know it.  My gosh that dog is talkative, even when he’s sick.  He couldn’t put weight on it, and it looked awful.  We were really worried about him.  So I took him to the vet.

Now, long history makes me terrified of the financial implications of entering a veterinary office.  This whole Cowboy-snake fiasco reminded me of two dog stories that I will tell later.  Y’all remind me.  But they were expensive.  Whoa.

Our last vet here in Houston had a way of not only overcharging us, but also making us feel like the lowest form of dog-and-cat-owning humanity on earth when we didn’t want to upgrade every service they offered to the limousine-and-caviar level.  We are awesome pet owners.  We love animals.  However, we do not think they poop gold bricks.  They’re our PETS, not our CHILDREN.  With apologies to people who believe their pets ARE their kids, we find it unavoidable to spend a much greater portion of our income on the human offspring than the canines and felines.  That’s just the way it has to be, because we don’t poop gold bricks either.  Sometimes we like the canines and felines better than the humans, but still we have no choice.

Last night, I went on a desperate internet search for a new vet.  I didn’t think I’d get very far with a google search of “veterinarians who don’t think your pets poop gold bricks”, though.  Eric came to the rescue. He had noticed a small house with a veterinary clinic in it about 15 minutes from our house, but in a more rural and less high-income area.  The online reviews of the vet were amazing, of the “walks on water” variety.  I was at their door at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, after lifting 125-pound Cowboy in and out of the back of our Suburban in order to get him there.  Man, I’m glad I took up swimming and weight lifting.

The only comments they made when I walked in?

Nurse:  Oh my, that’s a very big dog.

Vet:  Oh wow, your dog is…large.  I’m glad he’s friendly.

“Why, yes.  Yes, he is.”  🙂

THIS VET ROCKED.  Seriously, y’all.  If you need a vet in Houston, I’m the one to call for a referral.  I felt like the by-God queen of all pet owners when I left, and I gave them only $165.37 for the visit, his antibiotic shot, and a bag of painkillers, ointment, and amoxycillin.  Add to that the $4.39 cents I spent on chamamoille-scented spa-foot-bath epsom salts, and throw in a smidgen for a pair of cotton tube socks, baggies, and some masking tape, and that’s it.  No unnecessary platinum-plated treatment suggestions, and no “you must buy a doggie treadmill for this tub of goo along with a $2 million special prescription available-here-only diet dog food immediately or you will go to hell” lecture.   {Yes, he’s chunky.  He can’t help it.  Lady Gaga told me he was just born this way.}  Oh, and the vet said it was a poisonous snake bite.

David (the boyfriend) deduced it was from a water moccasin, because Cowboy bounded into the extremely low-water pond and started limping immediately thereafter.  Not to gross you out too much, but the normally two-acre pond is about 100 feet x 100 feet and probably a teeming, concentrated, writhing black mass o’moccasins.  Ick.

So, here are pictures and video of Pamelot and the pooch.  My poor tubby baby.

1.  Video — after vet, pre-home treatment

[youtube AKtnkm0yfhI]

Or Click here Cowboy Gets Bit By a Water Moccasin

2.  The pics

Sad face. He doesn't like the foot bath. Not even a GIANT beef-basted rawhide bone is making the prospect more attractive to him.

See how his foot looks like a hoof? And this is half the size of last night. See his muddy hip? He was too sick for a bath.

Poor tootsies. 🙁

By now, he's hurting so much and feeling so betrayed that he won't even look at me. Or touch the bone. Time for ointment, and meds tucked in a hotdog.

The tube sock is masking-taped on, and his head is turned EVEN FURTHER away. When he goes outside, he also has to wear a baggy over his sock. We repeat all this twice a day until it heals.

Finally. He hides on his pillow with his bone. After a 2-minute chew, he falls into a traumatized sleep. Sick kids, sick pets...heart-wrenching. I'm just glad he didn't have to have surgery.

The vet warned us that if it doesn’t heal, Cowboy will have to have some minor surgery to explore whether there is anything stuck up in his foot.  But the chances are slim.

Send Cowboy some lovin’, y’all.


p.s. Weekend tally for that little Nowheresville jaunt?  Close to $1000.00.  How do I love thee, Eric and Cowboy?  Let me count the one thousand ways 🙂

p.p.s.  Proving that I lack what it takes to whore out my family for reality TV (darn), I was so worried about Cowboy that I forgot to take pictures when his paw was gigantic, and at the vet.  Rats.