.Should I Have Kids? Or Get Another Dog?

My husband, Stephen, and I are both working on contract right now and therefore have no health benefits. For months Stephen’s knee has been making this scary clicking sound when he walks. His doctor prescribed physiotherapy but working joints are a luxury we just can’t afford right now. I have had an excruciating toothache for some time, but instead of seeing a dentist I have undertaken the much cheaper option of training myself to chew on the other side of my mouth. Since the summer began, our three year old dog, Diego, has been limping on one his hind legs. So when a fellow dog owner suggested that I might consider a canine chiropractor, as you can imagine, I booked an appointment IMMEDIATELY.

“So, what, now we’re just going to burn money?” Stephen asked.

Despite his skepticism, or, really, because of it, Stephen agreed to come with me. I have a tendency to be blindly agreeable to most things, not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings by having, say, a difference of opinion. Stephen, on the other hand, is much more practical, often being forced to dig in his steady heels and reign in my good intentions. We both agreed to approach the appointment with an open mind. I would not immediately assume canine chiropractics was a panacea for all doggie ailments, and he would not immediately assume it wasn’t.   

Stephen, Diego and participation medals after a 5.0 km brain injury fundraiser run, held when Diego could still walk

Dr. Goldberg’s office was across the city from our house, but it was no matter because spouses typically fare well sitting together for hours in rush hour traffic. By the time we got there, we were both feeling pretty uncertain about this option, if only because of the distance.  

“I thought you said he was a dog chiropractor?” Stephen asked, as the three of us got out of the car.

“He IS,” I said, pointing to the awning that clearly said: “Dr. Goldberg Chiropractics, For People and Pets Too!”

“Is he even a veterinarian?”

The waiver we were forced to sign prominently told us he wasn’t. Dogs, nevertheless, get treated in Exam Room 1, while Mr. Wilkinson, who comes for regular appointments in the summertime when he is home from Florida, gets treated in Exam Room 2.  

“Just relax,” I told Stephen, “We’re here to see what he says. We don’t have to let him do anything.”

The doctor finally appeared, looking to be approximately 102 and desperately in need of some chiropractics. He did, however, look like an older version of my dad so I trusted him implicitly.

First he asked me to run with Diego so he could observe the limp. Diego and I ran up and down the length of the parking lot a number of times, except his months long chronic limp suddenly disappeared.

“See!?” I said to Stephen, “He’s been cured.”

“Sometimes the adrenaline of a new place can mask a limp,” Dr. Goldberg explained. He also called me “Sweets.”  What was not to love about this guy?

We followed him back into the exam room and lifted Diego onto a leather bench to be assessed.

“Here is some doggie crack to help keep him occupied,” the doctor said, as he slipped something into my hand.

“No, no. We’re just interested in holistic treatments,” I said.

I opened my palm to reveal a handful of dog treats which Diego immediately hoovered up.

“More crack please.”

Waving his hand 5 cm over Diego’s spine, he nodded knowingly. “Yup,” he said, “He’s got a pinched nerve. What we humans call sciatica.”

“TOTALLY,” I said, “Yes, he totally has sciatica! Of course! How do we treat it and more importantly how much do we owe you?”

“Wait, why do you think that?” Stephen asked. The doctor explained, after which explanation Stephen asked a follow-up question, something silly like: ‘how do you know it’s not muscular?’ To that answer Stephen asked another follow-up question, and then another and another. I was so irritated. Which part of doggie sciatica didn’t he understand? I looked at Dr. Goldberg, tipping my head sideways towards Stephen and giving the doctor a look that asked, ‘who invited this guy?    

The doctor concluded that Diego would need approximately six treatments-who knows, maybe even more(!)-after which time Diego would make a full recovery, so long as we brought him back on a semi-regular basis for maintenance adjustments.

Obviously moved by my stirring peech in the car about homeopathic medicine, non-invasive treatments and the bodies ability to heal itself, and not at all because of fatigue, Stephen agreed to give it a try. Diego looked up at us: are you guys serious!? Dr. Goldberg leaned into Diego’s back and then gave us a bill. I was so excited.

Diego limped back to the car. I called to book another appointment.

“I don’t know what’s right,” I told Stephen on the way home, “Can we just hope for now that this is?”

“Yes,” he said, putting a hand on my knee, “We can.”  

I looked over at Stephen, feeling the warmth of our mutual love for our pup. I appreciated his presence. With Stephen I feel solid. He keeps me grounded. He keeps me focused and rational and on track. I didn’t even tell him the light was green.

At the pet store that evening, buying Diego a treat for being SUCH A GOOD BOY, Stephen pointed out a magnet on a swivel display by the register. “This is you,” he said. A woman held a dog with her arm stretched across her forehead: “O.M.G.” it read, “I forgot to have kids.”

“It is,” I laughed. The thought was kind of jarring, though. I once read a report that couples with dogs tend to have children later as their nesting instincts are already satisfied. They don’t feel the same raw need to create a traditional family. Was this me? Could my love for Diego be delaying my decision to have children? Has he dulled my biological instincts? I wasn’t sure but it didn’t much matter, anyway. How could I even think of having children, right now? What was I going to do, drive across the city to weekly canine chiropractic appointments, with a newborn!? That was absurd. Where would Diego sit!?