Dear Margo: How to Deal with a Needle Artist

How can I avoid constant disparagement about my job? Margo Howard’s advice

How To Deal With a Needle Artist

Dear Margo: Like many people (politicians, police, journalists, attorneys, car salespeople), I work at a job that a good many people love to hate. Most people I meet, however, are gracious. The exception is a close relative’s new wife. I’d never met her before the wedding and only see her at family gatherings. I’ve always been cordial, and she is friendly. However, her smile and greeting are quickly accompanied by a critical remark about my profession or my employer. Last time, she told me what a jerk my boss is.

Part of me believes she thinks this is clever conversation; another part says the fact that she has a master’s degree in counseling means she can’t be that clueless. Do I keep doing what I have been doing, which is to smile, say something bland and disengage quickly? Or should I point out that she’s being remarkably rude? I don’t want to start a family fight, but I’m tired of being her dartboard. –Losing Patience

Dear Lose: Kinda too bad that this woman feels she needs to give you her unsolicited and impolite opinion every time you meet. Your passive avoidance responses just ensure that she will continue with the needles. I would, the next time this happens, return the volley. You might respond, when next you hear the same song, umpteenth verse, that she certainly seems too young to be memory impaired, but she tells you of her disdain for your work every time she sees you. You might throw in, “It almost seems as though you don’t want us to be friends.” When she picks herself up off the floor, I predict you will have heard the last of her digs. –Margo, responsively

Pets and Vets

Dear Margo: In November 2010, I almost lost my 16-year-old Baby-Girl Sassie (Shepherd/Chow mix) to cancer. I opted for surgery and treatment, and she’s doing great. It cost close to $2,000, but I didn’t care; she’s my girl. All of my friends and a few family members called me crazy for saving her life and spending the money to treat her. When I asked for prayers, they thought I had gone off the deep end. Last week, my beagle, Mac, had a tumor appear on his left hind leg (he’s 14), and I opted for surgery once again (another $1,000), and tonight the doc told me Mac will be around for a long time. Again, I was called nuts.

Last week, I had surgery for breast cancer. The people who saw me through the operation thought nothing of praying for me, but they fail to realize that my pets are with me 24/7. When I come home from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, they are the ones who greet me at the door, crawl up in my bed and comfort me when I’m crying from fear. Is it wrong to want others to pray for your pets when their lives are in danger? Or to spend money on their health as you would for a human? –Mom to Pets

Dear Mom: People who aren’t pet people are never going to get it, so stop trying to get them to understand. It should not matter to you what others think of your priorities. I don’t think it’s wrong, exactly, to ask friends to pray for pets, but I can see how some people would think it a little strange or even sacrilegious. I suspect there are people who make a distinction between animals and people, and once you understand that, you won’t be angry with the people who decline to pray for Mac.  –Margo, understandingly

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

61 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Grace Malat says:

    To the first LW, you say this woman has a master’s in therapy, this is also a profession that many people don’t believe in. To many it’s not a ‘hard’ science and therefore has little to no value.
    If after you use Margo’s advice and the jabs keep coming, do a bit of research to find out what the dissenters have to say about therapy and then the next time she jabs you about your job you can jab back.
    If she doesn’t get the clue after you try Margo, I think she deserves a bit of her own medicine. But be aware it could cause a rift so you need to weigh the possible outcomes and that you’d be ready for any and all consequences.

    • avatar mayma says:

      Why in the world would you suggest such a thing? What could jabbing back possibly accomplish? Operating on the same rude level can hardly be a victory. Yeesh.

      • avatar Grace Malat says:

        I never suggested that he be rude. All I’m saying is that after you’ve tried ignoring and hiding and running for the other side of the room to escape someone’s rude comments, that after you try Margo’s approach which I agree with, but it may not work. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and it can be a very simple statement. “I understand that you don’t approve of my vocation and you’ve voiced it several times, I’d be interested in knowing how you feel about people who don’t believe in your services”
        Nothing rude, just put the ball well placed back in her court. She sounds dense and if he’s going to stand up to her he should, but one should never go to a gun fight with a knife.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      I would go for the simpler: “I’m shocked that a woman with your education and training would be so lacking in tact, sensitivity and good manners. It makes me worry for your patients and what kind of advice you must give them. I suppose it’s lucky for you that therapists don’t need a special license.” Then I’d smile.

      • avatar Legal Eagle says:

        Therapists do need a special license in my state, but otherwise I’m inclined to agree with the suggestion that the LW say something like ““I’m shocked that a woman with your education and training would be so lacking in tact, sensitivity and good manners.” But I would leave it at that. Of course, this assumes Margo’s advice does not work because I think her advice was spot on with this issue.

      • avatar Jay Gentile says:

        Yes, asking a lot of of questions is very good choice, too.

      • avatar Katie P says:

        Therapists do need a special license in every US state, as far as I know.

        Insulting one’s profession, knowing nothing of how they do their job, is equally tactless and insensitive and will make nothing better.

      • avatar Melaine H. says:

        Jay: I disagree, therapists at least in the state that I live in have to be licensed.

    • avatar Anne Whitacre says:

      I used to work for a very high profile business owner in my profession and I was often “ambusehed” by people (also in the profession ) who wanted to make sure I heard their uneducated opinions about my business owner.  when I talked with my boss about “how should I respond to those comments” he said simply, “take them aside privately, and then let them have it”.
      it worked.
      Often, people who make repeated digs about something — anything — have a blind spot about just how rude and unsolicited their remarks are.  These people don’t take hints, and I think after fair warning, they need to be treated just as rudely as they have been acting.
      as for therapists: people with “issues” often make good therapists because they understand the modality and are sympathetic; it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own issues.

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Like Grace, I was going to point out to LW#1 that the therapy profession has its own detractors.  But, no reason to get rude back.  I think Margo’s approach is ideal.  If that doesn’t shut the clueless/rude/passive agressive woman up, then I would head for the opposite side of the room when you see her coming at the next family gathering. 

    LW#2, my heart goes out to you and I hope you and your animals have smooth recoveries from your illnesses.  And I will say some Hail Mary’s for you all.  I don’t think you are nuts to spend money to prolong your pets’ lives as long as they are not suffering (and it sounds like they are doing well).  I know some people are not pet people.  I think that even if you are NOT a pet person, if you have a good friend who you know is attached to her pets, AND is undergoing some crisis in her own health, you could at least have the empathy to refrain from calling her nuts.  And you might find it in your heart to pray that she will be comforted by the continued presence of her pets.   I might be tempted to end my friendship with a person who lacked that empathy.  


    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Three thousand dollars isn’t that much, considering the average pet owner will spend much, much more in food, toys, care, grooming, etc. On that note—you might point out the ridiculousness of paying $9 for a martini or $150 for a hair color treatment. Everyone has their “stupid” purchases—myself included.

      As for LW1: “I’m not sure why exactly you should care” might do the trick.

  3. avatar Elaine says:

    LW #2’s “friends” are both clueless and heartless. For over 40 years, research has shown that pets are a boon to good health in a majority of cases (the exceptions being allergies and people who really don’t want their pets). They lower blood pressure, promote exercise (in the case of dogs who need to be walked), and generally promote a positive outlook that comes from taking responsibility and receiving the unconditional approval and love that pets are famous for. This writer’s friends ought to understand why her pets are important. At the very, very least, they could humor her in direct conversations, then roll their eyes amongst themselves and dismiss her devotion as over-the-top. But to ridicule her to her face? The height of insensitivity. They seem to be equating her veterinary expenditures to people who send money to the Psychic Friends. This woman has spent her own money; she has not solicited handouts. I’m sure she’s similarly supportive of her kids, if she has any (letter doesn’t indicate). LW #2 ought to seriously consider casting a wider net in the sea of friendship.

  4. avatar elaine s says:

    LW #2:  I completely understand how you feel.  The best friends I have ever had were and are a dog and a cat.  I would have done anything for them, and they, for me.  Some people are so insensitive….I agree with other writers that you should find better friends.  Nobody should criticize you in any way for your devotion to  your animals, including any expenditure you make on their behalf.  I firmly believe heaven is full of wonderful animals, and a few people!  God bless you and yours.  I wish you health and happiness!

  5. avatar Karen969 says:

    On the 2nd topic for today (and I understand how you feel because I love my two old cats and I’ve spent oodles on them!), perhaps it might be a good idea to not tell folks how much you spend on your pets (or anything).  Surely, they wouldn’t know if you didn’t tell them and they really don’t need to know the details.  Hope your sweethearts are with you for a long time and good health and recovery to you!

    • avatar Legal Eagle says:

      Totally agree! It’s none of their business what you spend and if they ask you outright, you can just say “It’s nothing I can’t handle” and leave it at that. Nothing says that you have to give them chapter and verse of your vet expenditures even if they ask.

  6. avatar Donna Sampson says:

    People who jab others over a profession won’t stop jabbing because they are jabbed back. That’s their style of “conversation” and it will only fuel the fire. If you don’t mind that, then go ahead and play her game. Showing your grace by ignoring her remarks is the best way to dispel the way people typically think of your profession.

    • avatar P S says:

      I have to agree. It is indeed that person’s warped idea of “making conversation” and returning the favor ups the ante. Either that, or when you dish back what they give to you, or if tell them they’re out of line, they go off crying victim and talk about how “mean” and “hurtful” you are.

      I no longer associate with my mother-in-law in part because she insists on incorporating this garbage into literally every visit, and the times I’ve told her to stop, she’s resorted to labeling me as a “spiteful” person and spread nasty rumors behind my back. Who needs it.

  7. avatar Mainer says:

    You are the only competent judge of priority in your own life.
    Loved ones scoffing at your request for prayers are scoffing at your need, not at the pets, and I would point this out, once (you don’t have to love pets to comfort a friend!). Anyone that doesn’t then get on board has shown you where your needs figure on their list of priorities…..

  8. avatar Claire Saenz says:

    LW#1: I too am a member of a profession that people love to malign and make jokes about–a profession whose practitioners are often the butt of jokes comparing us to sharks, toxic waste, excrement, insects, worms, etc. Not a week goes by that I don’t run across some sort of commentary; the most recent was in an online group where someone suggested that the world would be a better place if every member of my profession stepped in front of a moving train.

    So I understand LW#1’s sense of frustration and I think Margo’s advice on how to deal with it is quite good. Depending on the circumstances, a direct approach reminding the person that you are a human being and appealing to their sense of proportion can work quite well. However, some people can be absolutely relentless, responding to rational appeals with additional disparagement and cruel jokes. In my experience there is no way of stopping such people–they believe that they are justified and/or highly clever–but it can sometimes be useful to beat them to the punch and take the wind out of their sails. Typically those of us in the line of fire know all the comments and jokes. When someone starts down the path, I’ll simply finish the comment or joke, look the person straight in the eye, say “yeah, I’ve heard that one before”, smile, and change the subject.

    • avatar J D says:

      I’m pretty sure we’re in the same profession, Claire. I think too many of our colleagues apologize for what they do or try to distance themselves from, you know, those other lawyers.

      When people slam lawyers in front of me, I look shocked and say, but I defend the Constitution; surely they believe in the rights we’re all guaranteed under the Constitution, don’t they? So far, no one has ever said “no” flat out; they often say, “Well, if you put it that way …” Once they concede that much, I’m off: it’s a vital and honorable profession, and by the way, all my clients are indigent (and most are minorities) — they’re not against poor people, are they? 

      We may be in different fields, but there’s a version of this for every lawyer, even the oft-looked-down-upon personal injury lawyers (“So if you’re hit by an SUV driven by someone who’s too busy texting to watch the road, and you’re badly injured, you don’t think you should be allowed to sue for any medical expenses not covered by your insurance? Or for the pain and suffering of all the time you spent in the orthopedic ward?”). 

      In my experience, if you remain good-natured while you’re defending your profession and you obviously take pride in what you do, it’s the other person who ends up saying, “Well, I didn’t mean you. I meant all those other lawyers.” (And then I defend them, too, just on GPs.)


      • avatar Legal Eagle says:


        I too share the lawyer profession and I love your approach. I’m going to start using it.:)

  9. avatar Lila says:

    For the pet mom: first, Margo is right. We commentators just had some exchanges on her previous thread about this very thing (“How can you compare pet dogs to children?”). Those who think animals are mere objects just won’t get it. Personally, I think it is blindingly obvious that animals are not so different from us: they think, they have feelings, they suffer when abused, they thrive when loved, and they pay the observant back 1000% with a meaningful emotional connection.

    Second, if you had chosen to spend thousands on clothing that you love, or bought a $50,000 car instead of a $20,000 car, I’ll bet the attitude would be different: not “You’re crazy,” but “Hey, if that’s how you want to spend your cash, go for it.” Yet the car depreciates instantly, and clothing wears out or goes out of style – so what’s the difference? Your pets bring you pleasure and you choose to spend your money on them.

    As for the prayers – your “friends” are clods if they cannot see that they should be praying for your pets’ recovery for YOUR sake. The prayers are for YOU, just the same as when they pray for your own recovery.

    • avatar Lila says:

      PS, you are not alone – we had the same two cats for about the last 15 years of our Army careers and beyond. So many military personnel, sadly, abandon their animals when they discover how much it will cost to transport them to the next duty station – “It’s just a cat. We’ll get another.” Our “friends” also told us how stupid we were to repeatedly pay to fly our cats around with us. The cats flew trans-Atlantic four times, and across the US once. How much stupider must they have thought us, if they knew we spent hundreds on palliative care for our terminally ill cat, rather than just having him put down upon diagnosis; or if they knew that we paid over $2000 for surgery to repair a broken leg on our other 17-year-old cat, rather than putting him down at the time of injury. Of course it’s not an “investment.” We just see it as the right thing to do.

      Oddly, though – when some of these same people would actually meet our cats, they would invariably comment on how affectionate and engaged the cats were. “Well, if my cat would act like this, I would like him better.” As if our cats were some kind of mutants – never thinking that our cats’ behavior is a result of how WE treat them.

      • avatar MyssAnthrope says:

        LW#2- my fiance and I took one of our cats to the vet last summer. He was on a sudden sharp decline, obviously would have died had we done nothing, and even the vet wasn’t sure what was wrong. He spent two days having a battery of tests run, finally got a diagnosis (hemolytic anemia), and was then constantly monitored and treated, all the while we were being told “even knowing what’s wrong he may still not make it”. All in all it cost us $3000 to save his life, which we needed to make some sacrifices to come up with, but it never even occured to us to not do everything we could to help him. My father, upon hearing the amount the bill came to, told us “he’s lucky he’s your cat ’cause I wouldn’t have paid nearly that much.” People who aren’t animal people will never understand why we’ll spend so much money, but to us it was saving a family member.

    • avatar Chris Glass` says:

      I can’t agree with you more on pets becoming our children. We had one beloved cat for 23 years and when he died it was like losing a child. When he was old he loved being wrapped in a blanket and held on our shoulders like a baby. He could sense when you didn’t feel good and he was always there for us. I always knew when a family member was on their way home because he would go to the back door and wait even if that person wasn’t expected.

      When my mother died of cancer we brought her dog home to live with us because nobody else in the family wanted to bother with her. We had her until she died several years later. I couldn’t stop crying when she died because she was the last link I had to my mother.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      I am not sure that the “friends” should be praying for her pets simply because she wants them to.  That does not make them clods.  Am I obligated to pray for someone if I don’t believe in prayer or have different beliefs regarding prayer?  I have no problem with the friends humoring her whether they pray or not.

      • avatar Lila says:

        The point in her letter was that her friends thought nothing of praying for HER, but thought she had “gone off the deep end” asking for prayers for the pets. I think that anyone who sincerely believes in prayer should also have the compassion to pray for their FRIEND when she is suffering out of worry for her pets, and not mock her in her moment of distress.

  10. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Look her square in the eye and in your best deadpan voice ask, “This is the umpteenth time you’ve mentioned it; and your point IS?”

    L #2: It’s your heart and your money. No one’s business (you’re making it their business?). I love pets, but wouldn’t spend thousands of $$ on them; however, that’s your prerogative. I also don’t have a problem with praying for pets who are ill.

  11. avatar D C says:

    LW#1 – Margo, I absolutely LOVE your advice on this one — “seems like you don’t want us to be friends.”  Gets right to the point — not passive aggressive.  Reminds me of my MIL years ago — my SIL would, at every family gathering (most are teachers), get wound up and start griping about how “coaches get everything they want and we get nothing” on and on and on… and finally, one Thanksgiving, my MIL very sweetly said, “Honey, two of my sons are coaches.”  She finally shut up.  I think when people are needling you and everything is said in such a way that if you take offense you look like the touchy one, you have to call them on it, but do so nicely (with ice in your veins but not on your face) and it usually helps unless the needler is a moron. 

  12. avatar D C says:

    LW#2 – I am not really  “pet person”, although I cried as much as the rest of my family when our lovely Maggie (Golden) died a couple of years ago.  I blame it on the fact that while growing up, every pet situation we had ended badly (got out and stolen, died of disease, fell asleep behind the car and mom backed over him, mama hamster ate all the babies).  But three women I really like ARE pet people.  Two are married with no kids, and one never married.  They love their dogs and cats like children, and I respect that.  I can’t imagine anyone feeling like a pet is a family member who WOULDN’T do everything in their power to save them from pain and suffering and help them to live their lives to the fullest.  Pets are companions and comforts to so many people.  I don’t want you to bring your dog to the restaurant where I’m eating, and I’d prefer they not be in the hotel I’m staying in, and I really wish the guy next door would shut his barking dog up at 3am… but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize your pet’s value in your life.  I think my mother would have been happier in her waining years if she’d had a pet.  But I think all those tragic endings when I was a child made her a non-pet person too.  I will have a pet again one day — but not until I can give it the time it deserves. 

  13. avatar Dianne Lopp says:

    Oh, Margo, I could not agree more with your response to LW#1!  I don’t know why people try to propagate the idea that ignoring people who say nasty things is an effective strategy.  It isn’t; it just emboldens them. The trick, as you so rightly point out, is how to calibrate an effective response (which has always been my problem—by the time I’ve responded in the past to repeated nasty comments, I’ve been at Def Con 10 because my anger has built up and I’ve looked like the jerk.).  I think your suggested response is brilliant and I would just add to everyone out there who doesn’t give out nasty digs and isn’t in the mood to receive them—don’t let it continue.  If the dig is directed at you more than once, think of a way to shut it down.

  14. avatar Margo Howard says:

    I think the comments today are a terrific bunch of responses to both letters.

  15. avatar mnn2501 says:

    LW #2
    You are makingit other peoples buisness when you tell people how much you sepnt or ask them to pray for your pet. Keep quiet about it and you won’t hear thinks like “What are you nuts?”

    I consider myself a pet person, I don’t ‘throw animals away’ just because they are sick or inconveinant, but at some point you have to relize that the suffering the pet is going through is worse than the ‘cure’. I have also seen people go through enormus amounts of money because they are keeping their animal alive at all costs.
    Unfortunatly I have also seen some people who claim to be pet lovers ignore an animals obvious pain at doing everyday activites and keep the animals alive much longer than their natural lifespans for what I consider to be selfish reasons.
    Just because we can keep a pet alive through medical science, doesn’t mean we always should – what level of pain are they in? how is their quality of life?

    • avatar Karen S says:

      That was what we had to consider when our 18 year old cat got sick.  The vet gave us the options and we choose to give him a dignified end rather than prolong his suffering.  The vet told us he had a bad heart and that he had probably had a small stroke.  His quality of life had gone downhill considerably in the last few months, so we said our goodbyes.  He is in the back yard under a little concrete slab, with his name and age.  We put a wind chime in the tree above him.

  16. avatar Katie themick says:

    I respect anyone’s right to shell out their money the way they want, but just because I don’t think of my dog as equal to, say, a child doesn’t mean I love it any less. And just as I don’t judge people for spending a lot of money to save an elderly pet, I expect not to be judged for putting down a terminally ill animal or very old animal who is suffering. Just because the vet tells you that something can be done doesn’t mean that everyone is necessarily going to want to prolong the life of their animal as long as they possibly can no matter what the cost (both monetarily and to the animal). If you want to and can afford to, I wish you well and all, but just because someone feels differently doesn’t mean they are heartless or love their pet any less.

    That said, I think LW2’s friends are way out of line to tell her how to spend her money. I’m more inclined to think the concern would be about spending beyond her means on the animals when she is ill herself, but regardless of the reason for their quips, they were way out of line.

  17. avatar Karen S says:

    To the pet parent…my husband spent thousands several years ago, before we married, to try to save a beloved pet with cancer.  The cat was his friend and companion.  He gave my husband years of friendship and love.  What a person does with their own money is their decision.  For your acquaintances to belittle your devotion to your babies shows a total lack of empathy.  We currently have 3 dogs and 7 cats, every one a stray or unwanted baby.  They give us so much company and are fun to watch interact with each other.  In the past 2 years we have lost my two elderly pets and the others were sad and looking for them for a long time.  Pets are wonderful, I hope your’s keep you happy and give you companionship for years to come.

    • avatar Kestrel Sakai says:

      Putting a beloved pet to sleep is the same loving choice as saving one when you can. My parents had to do it when their dog’s stomach cancer had spread widely – the poor dog was in pain all the time, and there was nothing else that could be done, within reason or my parent’s reach. It was time to let her go, and they did. Things are never black and white, and choice of life or death can be tricky – regardless of the species. The choice, though, remains with the pet owner – not someone else with an opinion. While it may be ‘just’ a dog/cat/bird – it *is* a living being you owe responsibility to.

      And it’s ok to miss them after they’re gone, too! I *still* miss my first Samoyed.. I’d had him from a tiny pup. For 7 years he slept beside my bed, shadowed me everywhere, went on all my road trips, was my ‘assistant’ on photography outtings, a heater when camping, a detector of bad dates, guardian of my home, attractor of friends and conversation… and a happy, loving presence every day of his life. If someone could NOT miss such a thing when it left – they have no soul.

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        Sometimes I think it is a shame that we can not be as helpful to suffering humans when they are in the terrible pain at the end and are made to keep living.  I held my 18 year old cat that I loved dearly when he had to be put to sleep a few years ago, he had gone from 18 pounds down to 9 pounds and was just wasting away, pitiful.  So sad in any living being.

  18. avatar susan hiland says:

    LW2: I just lost my dog in January it was swift and sudden. I can say hands down it was the worst experience of my life. And I am still mourning. My husband has moved on and thinks I’m crazy not to let him go. He just doesn’t get it. My best friend doesn’t get it. We pet owners get it. You do what you think is best for your friend, he relies on you to take care of him, feed him, discipline him and love him there is no one else to do it but you. If you have the money to give him the medical care he needs then do it. But don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t afford to take care of yourself. As one dog owner to another I am sending your babies my love and good thoughts. I hope they stay healthy and happy for years to come. As for you, I send you hugs and best wishes in your cancer battle. It’s a tough fight but I am sure you will pull through with flying colors. Get better, and kisses to your babies from me.

  19. avatar Debbie Ciaravino says:

    LW #1, your relative’s new wife sounds like a bully to me. I like Margo’s advice, but I would take it one step further and say something along these lines “Aren’t you lucky there are people like me out there who can be ________ (insert profession here, police, politicians, car salesman, etc.) and put up with unsolicited opinions from people like you? Otherwise, a _______ wouldn’t be there when you need one.” Finish with Margo’s “It almost seems you don’t want us to be friends” suggestion.
    After you have stood up to your bully, the taunting will hopefully stop, most bullies will after they realize they can’t get a reaction out of you anymore. Good Luck

  20. avatar Susan G says:

    LW#1 Yet another comeback–I’d expect someone with a master’s degree in counseling to have the self-awareness not to be so rude/such a bully.

  21. avatar Kestrel Sakai says:

    My beloved samoyed suddenly developed a severe case of glaucoma caused by an underlying condition called uveodermatologic syndrome (which I was unaware he had). He was in severe pain, misdiagnosed by *two* vets – before I rushed him 65 miles to an animal eye specialist. He knew immediately what his problem was, cautioned me the outcome could be my dog going blind or needing to have his eyes removed, but asked if I wanted to go through the expense to treat him. It was a concern – the two prior vets had already cost me $500, and I had just lost my job. But my dog was only 2 – and beautiful, loving and my *constant* companion. It was utterly inconceivable not to treat him. Nearly $3000 later… my boy was fine. I had to treat him daily for the rest of his too-short life (he died 5 years later, peacefully in his sleep) but it was an act of love every day. Our pets are family. For some of us – better than family. $3000 was rough on me at the time, but I’d have paid more to have him for the 15+ years he could have lived. It would have been cheap at twice the cost.

    When it comes to choices like this, there are those who will never get it. If you are one of them – keeping your mouth shut about another’s choice is the kinder thing. They don’t care what you think, and you won’t change their mind any more than they’ll change yours.

  22. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr #2 – I think another perspective is that at the ages of the dogs, some people may feel it’s more of a disservice to the dog for him/her to go through something like that.  It’s more a quality of life over a quantity of life issue, not necessarily that you’re nuts for asking for the prayers per se.   At 16, maybe even 14, I probably would not have put my dog through that kind of surgery.  I did for my 12 year old and he went on to live another 3 years, not of the best quality but definitely worthwhile for him.  If you feel you did the best (and it WAS the best) for your pets, then that’s great but just be sure that you’re truly doing it for them and not because you can’t bear to lose them. 

    • avatar dusty3 says:

      Amen to your comments Ms Shaw.  I lost my entire family within an 18 month period and I still grieve the most for my beloved Shih Tzu almost 20 years later.  He became ill at age 9 and I loved him enough to suggest that he be humanely put down.  The Vet said he could be treated and I made him promise that he would tell me when it was time to give up.  I spent thousands on medications and an expensive operation and shortly after his 13th birthday it was time to say good-bye.  Until then he had almost 3 more  years of quality life than the 9- 18 months that was expected  The only thing that I could do for him at that point was to ask that he be sent to the crematory with his favorite toy and blanket and go out and send flowers to the wonderful Vet who kept us together for that extra precious time.  He could have lived longer, but it wpuld have been unfair to him.  I would hope that all people like LW 2 do their best for their “children” and have the courage to let go when it is time.

  23. avatar P S says:

    LW2 – Sounds like your friends who are so willing to pray for everything else have forgotten that God made animals too, and they’ve forgotten about that little something called “judge not.” I have an aunt whose kitties are her family and if she asked me to pray for their health I’d do it in a heartbeat…

    I will certainly pray for your beloved companions. They appear to find it easier to provide unconditional love than your friends, and I’m sorry about that.

  24. avatar R Scott says:

    “It almost seems as though you don’t want us to be friends.”  Now, that’s a keeper. I love it. I think I’ll piss someone off this weekend just so I can use it…. Oh wait. That kind of defeats the purpose, huh? Okay, I’ll just have to wait for the right time.

  25. avatar Evil Betty says:

    LW#1….I would say something like “Oh, he he he, isn’t it just terrible how people like you and I have to endure such tasteless jokes about our professions?”

    LW#2:  Stop telling people how much you spend on your pets.

    • avatar Kyla_Luv says:

      Betty you don’t have to tell someone how much you spent for then to know you spent a lot.  As an example:
      Person A – “Spot had surgery to have the stomach cancer removed, he’ll be on radiation treatment for the next 3 weeks but the vet is confident he’ll pull through.”
      Person B – “Really, that had to be expensive?  That had to be in the thousands, why would you spend so much on just a dog?  Wouldn’t putting them down be much cheaper?”
      Person A – “I honestly don’t care about the cost, I just want Spot healthy again he is my baby.”

  26. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: :L#1: O, it isn’t just politicians, lawyers, law officers etc. who are vilified by society. I spent 9 years working as the manager, supervisor, and part-owner of a small chain of comics, RPG, and table-top war games stores. It was much more than just a job, it was being part of a very special, very closely knit community, and acting as a sounding board for highly intelligent, but often socially outcast teens (not the sort who spend their time getting drunk, or high, but the kind who read, think, and want very different things out of life), meeting an astoundingly wide variety of people, including my husband of 17 years, and being self-employed, responsible, and in love with what I was doing.

    But my family never saw it as a “real” job…even though I was sole provider for my first son and second (now ex) husband for two years, paid all of the bills, and was extraordinarily happy with my work and the people I knew and loved. They thought I was quite amusing and droll. Of course, my middle sister worked as a glorified receptionist and data-entry clerk…and my younger sister worked for the vast empire of Barnes & Noble, in Customer Relations.

    Years later, my mother was bemoaning the fate of my sisters, both of whom had been laid off from their respective jobs (some years apart), after the same amount of time, about eight years, and received respectable severance packages, etc.. She went on at some length. I finally asked, “Do you remember how long I worked at the comic store?” She said, “O, about two years…it wasn’t a real job…”. I said, “I worked there 9 years, sometimes seven days a week, sometimes putting in 10 hour days. The majority owner embezzled our entire tax account, burned three quarters of our merchandise because he decided it was satanic (it wasn’t), bounced checks to ALL of our vendors and distributors, didn’t pay our rents or the IRS, and stole all the deposits on the pre-ordered items our customers had asked for…then canceled all of their orders. The IRS raided our stores and locked them up, he disappeared…and I was out of a job, high and dry, with a toddler at home and a useless husband.”. Her response? “O, well, I guess you did okay”.

    My response? Nothing at all. Sometimes people don’t get it. LW1, there are rotten apples in every profession…no single group has a lock on corruption, avarice or malice…and all of the jobs listed…lawyers (we had an awesome, realistic, attorney after R.’s really bad car accident, who did not try to take the at-fault driver to the cleaners…just pay for medical bills and damages, which was all we wanted), police officers, politicians, reporters (do we really have to include them? O, all right…), even car sales people (hell, I’ve even met at least two totally decent car sales people) perform essential functions in our society. I’ve met two therapists, who, if I happened to see fall to the ground in flames, I might send my dog over to…well, never mind. Let’s just say that their ethics went well beyond questionable…and I always wondered exactly from where they received their diplomas. I think Margo’s response was on the spot. It comes across as curious rather than defensive, and idly curious at that. Allow it to be her issue.

  27. avatar TreeDweller says:

    Margo, truly wise advice to Losing Patience.  I’ve thought it, but I’ve never said it out loud. 

  28. avatar Jon T says:

    My partner and I have had to sit through the occasional snide comments about both our professions, but particularly about his being a teacher and the time off that comes with the job.  A couple of (now former) friends would always start in with something like, “Wow.  ANOTHER school holiday.  What a hard life you have!”  The first time we laughed it off, but it got old real fast.  While my first instinct was to jump to his defense, he would just shrug his shoulders and say, “If it’s that easy then go back to school, get your certification and Master’s degree and find a teaching job.  I did.”  That usually did the trick, though I like Margo’s advice as well.  

  29. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Interesting that he doesn’t actually mention his profession. Yeah sure, our first reaction to the scenario is that she’s being a bitch. But he seemed to indicate that this is a little more specific than the woman knowing his profession. Just a for instance here – let’s say you met someone that tells you they are head of a special interest group to protect the interest (read profits) of banks. Or you meet a lawyer – and they are Bernie Madoff’s lawyer. There are tons of seriously morally dubious jobs out there. And if it really zaps our own personal nerves, would you imagine saying nothing? What if you met someone that was peripherally involved in the abuse of animals? Or someone that worked for Charlie Sheen? Lol – ok, not that last one.

  30. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Some people just don’t get the ‘pet’ thing. That will always be a mystery to me. What is it that these people are missing in their makeup? I believe them when they say they have no particular connection to animals, in particular cats or dogs, but why? It’s such a hugely rich and rewarding experience to love a pet. My dog has probably taught me more about life than just about anyone, save my husband. He’s recently been sick, diagnosed with a terminal cancer and my mother’s response was sympathetic but she also felt it necessary to remind me that ‘he’s just a dog’ and that ‘I can get another one.’ They seem to feel personally insulted somehow that you might put your pet on the same level as a person; that you might feel deeply for them and about them. As if people actually have a choice as to what they feel towards another living creature. I just don’t get it – I never will.

    • avatar Jean B says:

      Jennifer, I think you nailed it on the head. They are not human, I get that, but they are still VERY important to me! And if these people cared at all about us they could at least respect the fact that our animals really are that important to us.

  31. avatar Jean B says:

    Dear Mom of Pets,
    I’ve been in your shoes and know how you feel. Thankfully, our closest friends understand and did pray for ‘our’ puppies. Last year my daughter and son-in-law got 2 Chihuahua puppies, one a tea cup. 2 months after they got the puppies they got married, 5 days after that my daughter was walking them when her neighbor’s dogs rushed out an open gate and snatched them up. The tea cup died instantly, the other, a male, had extensive internal injuries. $1850 later he is healthy as can be, thank the Good Lord. I paid the vet bills, they sure couldn’t do it. Granted, this was from an attack and I am getting my money back from the person who owns the other dogs, but that is still a lot of money “for a dog”. There are some who think we are nuts, we ignore them. If it were our own (many) animals we would do the same. When our 2 elderly cats both passed in 2005 our (close) friends and family gave us their condolences. One cousin sent us a sympathy card! That actually made me laugh. There are people out there who do understand, those are the people you need to surround yourself with. Not all of our friends have animals of their own, but they all have hearts and understand that our animals are family, too.
    God bless and watch over you and your loving ‘children’.

  32. avatar Peyton Marlow says:

    LW#2. I am with the majority of other pet owners here. I adopted a crippled goat I named Gertie several years ago. I spent $100 per month to get her hooves trimmed and when she was attacked I spent thousands to help her survive. After that incident she lived in the house and I spent additional $$ on adult diapers for her. She slept at the foot of my bed every night and to this day I think of her curled up there every time I go to sleep. I also hold the record at my vets for spending the most in one year on my dogs. Do I care what my friends think of my spending, especially on a goat? Not at all. I know in my heart what they give me and that’s enough. 
    Wishing you a speedy recovery and many happy years with your beloved pets.  

  33. avatar DonnaH says:

    LW#2 May your beloved furbabies recover, & you as well. I am praying for your entire family.
    This week, I took my 23 yr. old cat to the vet, fully expecting to say “goodbye”. The vet said he was healthy (remarkably so for such an old cat), except for a condition that can be treated. I have decided to spend money on treatment & keep the closest thing I’ve ever had to a husband a bit longer. (Bubba is particular, demanding, & set in his ways but cuddly, just like a man).

  34. avatar dekwkg says:

    LW#2–never apologize for spending money on your pet. Our dachshund had back issues. Three trips (via airline) to a first class vet school at a major university for 3 back surgeries cost a lot of money–followed by physical therapy, etc. etc. Actually never did even add up the money spent. But there was always a “light” in his eyes showing his love for us. He is still our special friend and can even walk–although not very steadily. It was worth every cent. As I write this he is looking at me, reminding me that it is “treat time.”

  35. avatar Mrs. Doolittle says:

    To the LW with the dogs.  To avoid disappointment, find an online pet message board.  Get to meet some “friends” there.  Then, if you need prayers for your furbabies, ask for them there.  Those people will understand, not criticize and will offer up sincere prayers.  You won’t be disappointed and your non-dog-loving friends will not feel bothered.

    Sign me:  Mom to 1 very wonderful human boy and a home that includes 9 cats, 3 birds, 2 guinea pigs, a dog, 40 chickens, 2 goats, 2 pigs and fish.

  36. avatar Krusticle says:

    LW#2: Similarly, we got the same criticism when we discovered our 12 y/o cat had diabetes.  After spending over $1,000 for diagnosis and tests to determine his insulin needs (two shots a day for the rest of his life), friends and family called us crazy for not putting him down.  I told them, if it were YOUR cat, I would say the same.  That usually put things in perspective for them.  (And who knew how easy it is to give a cat insulin shots?  He never minds, as long as he has a dish of wet cat food in front of him.  He’s happy and healthy and we have no regrets at spending the time and money to save him.)

  37. avatar Lym BO says:

    LW2: Frankly, I find anyone asking another person to pray for them or family a bit presumptuous. Perhaps they don’t pray at all. Perhaps you think they are religious folks but it is only a facade. Perhaps asking everyone to keep you in their thoughts as you struggle with your pet’s illness would be better.  If they want to pray, they will. This approach will save you grief & conversation. 
    My approach would just be to share my situation & let them proceed however they feel comfortable-whether it be by praying, doing kind things, simply checking in with me or whatever.