This was the family's first pet, and it was a special time for everyone involved. They named the puppy "Addie", and Addie was a very lucky dog to be in such a caring family. The family did everything "right". They followed their veterinarian's recommendations to a "T". They took Addie to doggie school. They brought her on their vacations rather than leave her behind.
The young children were thrilled to have a new puppy. They ran with her. They played with her. They dressed her up.
They cuddled in bed with her.
They had monthly birthday parties for her.
What could be better for a parent than to watch such a marvelous interaction between their children and a puppy? It was not just a puppy learning to behave and do tricks. It was a family learning to love, care for, and respect a new life in their home.
Addie seemed to be a happy, loving, and healthy puppy. She played. She ran.
She ate. She slept. She climbed stairs.
She was as fun and as mischievous as any puppy should be.
As time passed, and Addie grew larger and heavier, the few odd things became more noticeable. Her gait became more unusual. Her ability to lay down and get back up became more like an old dog, rather than the puppy she still was. Her willingness to jump or stand on her hind legs was significantly less enthusiastic.
With great concern, they took her to their veterinarian. An exam was completed and x-rays were taken. The results did not surprise Addie's Mom, but the prognosis did.
The family was informed that their beautiful, "healthy" Lab puppy had severe hip dysplasia. Addie's hip dysplasia was so severe, that the veterinarian informed them that even with surgery, they would be forced to carry her around. They would need to carry her up and down the stairs that were throughout their house as a result of the pain from the deformity. She would be unable to do it on her own. She would likely lose the ability to walk.
The family left their veterinary hospital with pain relievers for Addie. What they needed were pain relievers for their hearts. While Addie left the veterinary clinic unaware of her prognosis, her owners were painfully aware of it, and now had to talk to their children about it.
After many words, and even more tears, the family was fully aware that at some point in her young life, Addie, their puppy, would need to be euthanized when her pain became intolerable.
They consulted the pet store where they purchased Addie about her health condition. To their dismay, a letter from their veterinarian about Addie's condition would not suffice. For the warranty to be honored, they were required to return Addie to the pet store. She would in turn be returned to the breeder and "euthanized". The pet store would then be given "credit" for the puppy's return, and the family could receive a new puppy at no charge when they were ready. There would be no reimbursement for the extensive veterinary bills they had already accumulated. There would be nothing to repair the hearts of the children that fell in love with their first pet only to lose her in just a few short months.
Unfortunately, most breeder warranties contain clauses similar to this. The warranty often requires return of the puppy if for any reason the dog is deemed unhealthy by a veterinarian. Once returned, a "replacement" is given.
When a severe condition is discovered, it may not be life threatening but may be life altering, and unless you plan to give that dog back to the breeder or pet store, you receive no credit, and rarely any money back on purchase price. You are left to accrue veterinary bills on your dog's health problems with no recourse. Many warranties bank on the fact that you love the animal enough to not return it. But in Addie's case, her condition was not repairable, not livable, and would cause her great discomfort. Addie's family felt as though they had no other option. They believed they were bound by a contract.
Addie became consistently more troubled by her hips. She was in and out of their veterinarian's office. She was on different types of pain relievers. Soon, none of them were helping. Her stiffness and pain was evident on a daily basis. The medications were altering her personality. At eight months of age, Addie stopped wanting to eat. She became very lethargic, no longer wanting to play the way an eight month old puppy should. After a final consult with their veterinarian, the family knew the time had come.
As a final farewell, the family took Addie on her final vacation. They took her to Lake Michigan, where she could stand and play in the water that she loved so much.
Shortly after they returned home, the family decided it was Addie's time. After the children said their tearful goodbyes to their first puppy, who was still a puppy, Addie was heartbreakingly returned to the pet store to satisfy a contract.
Everything about the situation sickened Addie's Mom, but she thought she was doing the right thing by Addie and felt bound to the agreement that they signed when purchasing that cute pet store puppy.
They left the pet store in a state of grief, knowing that their puppy would soon be euthanized, and they were returning to a house where their children sat heartbroken. The puppy they purchased, thinking they would share 8-10 years of love, was loved immensely by a family for only six short months.
They thought this was the end of Addie's story, but was it?
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