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Tale of Two Dogs and a Bat

A lesson in keeping your pets up-to-date on their vaccinations (and why I'm not ready for children).

Last week, I was attacked by a bat. In my house.

Not the Louisville Slugger kind, but the kind that vampire legends are made up. If you’re a female under the age of 20, this may not seem like a scary ordeal, but for me it was. 

Okay, maybe “attacked” is a strong word. Let me back up. It was late Sunday afternoon, and for the first time in months, I found myself with nothing to do. I decided it’d be a great opportunity to spend the rest of the evening catching up on my Netflix queue. I grabbed a blanket and pillow, turned out all the lights in the house, and fired up the DVD player. I was just debating whether or not Vince Vaughn’s good looks were enough to help me get through the rest of The Dilemma when something swooped down and landed on my head.

I looked up and saw something big and black flying around my living room. At first, I thought it was a bird, and I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out how it got in and how on earth I was going to get it out. It took me a while before I realized that it didn’t look or move like a bird. 

It was definitely a bat. 

I freaked. Unless it’s a frog (and that’s a story for another day), I’m not one to freak at the sight of such a creature–even one in my house, but I didn’t want it to bite the dog. Sadie was outside playing, but Gabby remained oblivious on the sofa throughout the entire event.

I danced around, yelped and flailed my arms and realized this was not exactly productive. Finally, I took a deep breath and fled my living room through the sliding glass door. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but luckily, the bat flew out on its own, and I promptly came inside, turned on all the lights and checked to see if the bat's family was also residing in my house.

By that night, I learned more than one could possibly ever want to know about bats–that is everything you can learn from anyone who has ever posted anything on-line about the animals. I read horror stories about whole colonies of bats living in attics, bedroom closets, roofs and hiding in curtains. I read about people paying tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills and rabid pets foaming at the mouth. I slept with the lights on and all of the curtains pulled off the windows. I woke up every hour to check on the dogs and stopped short of decorating my house in garlic. Hey, I was in panic mode and literally fearing for my dogs’ lives. 

The next day I called my veterinarian’s office and made an appointment for my dogs to get their rabies vaccinations. I quickly learned the importance of keeping those things up to date.  I’ll admit the date had slipped by me. I was out town at the time of their original appointment in June and had to cancel it. I meant to reschedule, I really did, but you know, life gets in the way. As anyone I know can tell you, from mid-April to mid-July, I was mostly out of town. I was swamped with work and other obligations, and I just kept repeating my favorite mantra, “I’ll do it tomorrow (or next week…)." I love my vet and his staff dearly, but it just seems like so much trouble to take my dogs up there–even though it’s really not.  Well, most of the time…

A few days later, I got up and let the dogs out and started getting ready to take them to their appointment. Any other day of the week they would have done their business and come right back inside, but on this day, the day I have to take them into public, they come inside covered in mud from playing in the creek.  

I threw them in the bathtub, washed and dried them as quickly as I could and drove them across the county to the veterinarian’s office. Why I decided it would be a good idea to take them both at the same time by myself, I don’t know. We sat in the waiting room and I struggled to hold on to their leashes while Sadie tried to chase the office cat and Gabby clawed her way to any window or door she could reach. Finally, they called us back and it took two techs and myself to get them weighed and into the examination room.

Sadie was examined first, and I quickly realized why they ask you to walk them before you go inside. (For what it’s worth, I did try to walk them outside the place, but my dogs, who spent the morning covering themselves in mud, think they are too good to “go potty” in wet grass.) I won’t go into great detail, but let’s just say when the tech went to take a fecal sample, Sadie offered her a little more than she bargained for. I was slightly embarrassed, but the techs acted as though it wasn’t a big deal. 

Next was Gabby’s turn. Gabby is and always has been my "special needs" dog.  No trip to the vet is complete for her without the doctor and I having a long talk about some new type of medication. As I’m sitting there listening to the doctor explain how the medication works, I hear a very loud, familiar noise followed by a dreadful smell. I was just about to be embarrassed for the poor tech who was literally lying on top of my dog, holding her on the table, when I realized he was not the culprit. Before I knew it, the doctor could no longer keep a straight face and we were all laughing about “Gassy Gabby.”

When the doctor left the room, I asked the tech if other dogs were as bad as mine. “They’re not bad, just nervous,” he said, but I think he was just trying to be nice.

Now I don’t have kids yet, but I do hope to someday. I can only imagine that it’s moments like these that will help prepare me for motherhood. Anyway, I paid the receptionist and put the dogs in the car as quickly as I could and got out of there, hoping that by next year, the entire staff would forget about “Gassy Gabby” and the little dog that pooped on the table.

My point for writing this story is that I understand yearly vaccinations can be a big deterrent from owning a pet. It’s not fun to take them or to pay for it, but I know it has to be done. I’ve always looked at it as a county mandate. It is illegal to have unvaccinated pets in Douglas County. After the bat incident, I realize the law is in place for a reason- not only the safety of your pets but for your own safety as well.

The whole appointment took just an hour and that’s with two dogs at once–something a sane person should never ever do. And if Gabby wasn’t the most high-maintenance, spoiled rotten dog on earth, it would have cost about $140 per dog for the vaccinations and office visit that included a few other extras. There may even be veterinarians who offer lower prices, but I just happen to love how this one and his staff treats my babies as well as I do.

There are also organizations that offer inexpensive medical care for animals and organizations that will help you help your pet if you find yourself financially unable to. Every week I go to the Douglas County Animal Shelter and see “owner surrender” on the paperwork for so many poor dogs and cats, and so many poor dogs, and I see so many poor dogs and cats who are wondering when their family is coming back to get them.

Most of them won’t ever be adopted. I just wonder how many of those could have been prevented if people knew all of their options.

If you do need financial help with your pets’ medical care, here are a few of many local organizations that may be able to help you find a way to keep your pet out of the shelter. Some of them even offer free or inexpensive medical care themsevles:


Douglas County Humane Society

P.O. Box 747

Douglasville, GA 30134

Phone: 678-838-9123

 

West Georgia Spay/Neuter

525 E. Montgomery Street

Villa Rica, GA 30180

Phone: 678-840-8072

 

WellPet Humane

5342 Peachtree Road

Chamblee, GA 30341

Phone: 770-455-1011

 

West Georgia Mobile Vet

Phone: 770-942-4984

Email:  mobilemarseli@yahoo.com

 

West Georgia SPCA

Phone:  770-272-3178

Email:  info@westgeorgiaspca.org

LeeR August 14, 2011 at 05:04 AM
Sarah, I really appreciate your compassion written on Patch every weekend and for that matter, the entire week, for the lives of unfortunate dogs and cats, but I sure would love to see Patch give coverage to struggling families in this economy. There are homeless mothers with children trying to survive right now, not knowing where their next meal comes. My old fashioned Christian teachings tend to make me worry about these difficult times for families. Not knocking you, but if Patch is providing a forum to the community for our pets, I wish it could generate more for people who are really having just as tough of a time as cats and K-9's are having at the pound. These are special historic times. When we get things right for mankind, our pets will prosper off a better human condition.
Sarah E. Anderson August 14, 2011 at 06:04 AM
Lee, thanks so much for the comment and making a great point. I agree with you and your last sentence is so very true - pets are suffering and showing up at the shelter because humans are suffering, which is why I chose to use this week's pet article to help humans who may be struggling financially when it comes to their pets’ medical care. It's also why I do a monthly article called "Cutting Costs for Local Pet Owners." Animals are an important part of our community. To many people, pets are family, and I've seen many situations where a person's dog or cat is the only friend or family they have and the only thing keeping them going, whether they are suffering financially, physically or emotionally. Some of the organizations mentioned in this article have the goal of keeping pets out of the shelter and offer financial assistance to families in need of pet food or medical care. I've seen people break down at the shelter because they felt they had no choice but to turn their pet in. My goal with this particular article and many others that I've done IS to help struggling families in the one small way that I can...(CONT)
Sarah E. Anderson August 14, 2011 at 06:09 AM
... I do write a weekly pet article that runs on Saturday evenings, and I have been fortunate enough to get to take on Patch's "Adoptable Pet of the Day" feature that runs daily at 4 p.m., which I’m happy to report has resulted in a number of pets being adopted. That is just a generic feature that many geographic-specific publications and websites run. I’m certainly not in charge, but I do think there is plenty of room for both our locals animals and humans here, and I think John Barker does a great job with balancing stories and offering variety. I also know he is always open to great ideas, so if you have some specific ones about people struggling in our community, I’m sure he’d be glad to hear them. Thanks again for the comment!
Charles Branson August 14, 2011 at 11:47 AM
LeeR, there are people out there daily in our region working to help those facing homelessness. The United Way helps support these efforts and makes this help accessible to those who need it through "211". Someone facing homelessness can dial 211 and be given contact information and direction to the agencies that can help most effectively. You can also call and find out how to give. advocate, or volunteer, and help make a difference.
Sarah E. Anderson August 15, 2011 at 07:33 PM
A reader contacted me and told me that All Pets and Paws in Carrollton also offers low-cost vaccines, treatments and spays and neuters. Here's the contact info if anyone is interested: Dr. Taffy Rhyne 175 N. Hwy 113 Carrollton, GA 30117 phone : 770-834-7044.

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