How does one place a value on the worth of a pet? The answer is a very personal one for millions of people in the world. For our family, the pet of choice has been dogs. Over the past 30 years, we have owned two dogs – Reggie (Jackson) and Bella – both males, both mutts, both obtained from the local Humane Society, and both loved. These dogs became a vital part of our family structure.
Reggie Jackson Healy, a foxhound, was just a few months old when he came to live with his human eight-year-old brother and ten-year-old sister. He was tri-colored, perky, and difficult to train. He was a lover, no doubt, but would he heed the family’s directives? Not on your life! When he came to live with us, he remained nameless for a few days as the family hashed out various choices. Knowing that Grandma Healy was a baseball lover, and in particular, her all-time favorite player was Reggie Jackson, the family settled on this name for our pet.
Our second dog was named by our youngest child, Erin. The three of us – Erin, her dad and mom – had just returned from living in Eastern Europe for four years, when Erin reminded her parents that we promised her a dog. Bella, a Black Lab, made his new home with us when Erin was a freshman in high school. She named her new pet “Bella”, meaning “beautiful” since bella was a commonly used word in Bulgaria. Bella was a devoted companion to Erin for four years, until she departed for college. When Erin returned that first Christmas, Bella’s eyes had turned to his daddy.
One attribute of our Bella that everyone noticed at first meeting was his tail. It could be used to beat a drum, it had such a powerful swing. About three years ago, a small meaty tumor began to develop about 2.5 inches from the base of his tail. Our vet assured us it was nothing to be concerned about. The tumor slowly grew, until it was the size of a tennis ball. A second visit to the vet was made to confirm no need for medical attention, at which time the vet inserted a needle in the tail. The point at which the needle was inserted became fresh ground for new tumor growth. Having been satisfied by the doctor that the tumor was no problem, we continued to monitor Bella’s tail. But then the tumor turned reddish, began to grow exceedingly rapidly, and we were afraid it would burst.
To make a long story short, Bella’s tail is now many inches shorter. One week ago, a wonderful new vet, Dr. Mack in Ticonderoga, NY, excised Bella’s tail in order to preserve our dog’s health. Bella is doing beautifully (sorry for the pun) and his little three inch tail now wags full force, demonstrating that he is, indeed, a healthy happy dog!
By Joy Healy