The Difficult Task of Putting a Price on Our Pet’s Health

Winston is due for more sessions.

She said this with a smile.

Do you want to buy a package?

I was flustered. I didn’t want to buy a package. I didn’t want to be spending thousands of dollars on another round of physical therapy for my five-pound Pomeranian.

Sure, uhh, How many sessions do we usually buy?

Let me take a look here … six.

I asked how much that would be.

One thousand, fifty.

She paused. I nodded.

Great. I’ll run it through.

She said this with a smile, a smile that made me wonder if she thought she’d said “Free.”

We call our little guy, Winston, our Problem Child, our Money Pit. As a puppy he broke his leg roughhousing with my brother. Seven grand later he’d undergone emergency surgery, had metal plates implanted into his leg, and was healing in a hard cast. During this time he also suffered from seizures, and despite the money we spent and the vets we visited, we never figured out why. He grew out of the seizures.

An Accident Paid Off My MFA Debt

Just over a month before I entered the graduate writing program at The New School I was struck by a car as I stepped into a crosswalk on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Along with minor abrasions, my left ear was mangled beyond repair, and as I faced a handful of surgeries in the months and years ahead, I worried how these might affect my expensive education.  I would plan each surgery around a break from school so that I could miss the least number of classes possible. At the time this was how I connected grad school to my accident, along with the knowledge that I would have to get the hell over it; I had an M.F.A. dream to fulfill.