Gerbil Surgery?

4 years ago

It’s not that we paid for two rodents’ surgeries.

It’s that both procedures were elective.

“The mass on Herbie’s abdomen is a benign cyst,” said the vet while holding my daughter Sadie’s beloved 8-ounce gerbil.

“If we put him under anesthesia, we should be able to remove it, stitch him up, and send him home within a couple hours.

“It’ll cost about $200, but I expect he’ll make a full recovery.”

She explained all of this with a straight face.

I looked around for the hidden camera.

Anesthesia? Stitches? Hundreds of dollars?

I wanted to lean over and whisper, “You know we’re talking about a gerbil, right? A creature just slightly above goldfish on the pet-disposability scale?”

But then I glanced at Sadie, who was standing in the exam room with us and looking expectantly at me.

She’d heard the vet’s words: Herbie wasn’t going to die from his cyst. (His horrible, disgusting, bleeding cyst.) He just needed a minor procedure. An absurdly expensive minor procedure.

Which we ended up green-lighting.

(Here’s where I add that we’re not even close to being wealthy, but what we lack in funds, we more than make up for in suckerhood.)

“Don’t they make new gerbils that look like the old gerbil?” asked my sister when I told her how much we’d spent to heal a pet that we’d bought for 10 bucks.

Yes, they do, but I couldn’t bring myself to let Herbie suffer and die from something treatable, not to mention tell my 8-year-old daughter that while they could make him better, we weren’t going to let them.

Love—of kids and animals—is a strange, fiscally unsound thing.

Happily, surgery was a complete success, and Herbie went on to live a rich, full life…for another four months.

That works out to $50 a month for all you English majors.

Which is why, when Sadie came to us—after an appropriate mourning period—and asked for another beady-eyed, long-tailed pet, we opted for something sturdier.

A rat.

More like a small, plague-carrying dog than a rodent, Jeepster soon became a wonderful companion for our daughter.

Until his easygoing personality began to change and he started nipping at Sadie (who begged us not to get rid of her “baby”).

Back to the veterinarian we went for some guidance.

“Well, male rats can turn aggressive as they reach maturity,” explained the same sincere vet. “Neutering him might make a real difference.”

Neuter a rat?

Neuter. A. Rat.

Another glance at my daughter, another round of anesthesia. Another embarrassing, ridiculous reach for my checkbook.

Another chapter in the cautionary tale that is my life.

On the bright side, Jeepster would now be sterile. So there was no danger of us becoming rat grandparents.

Which was a relief. Imagine how much an entire litter of vermin could end up costing us.


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