The dog has a cough – and I’m £80 poorer
The writing is on the wall for gas boilers, I understand. Not a moment too soon, in my view. I think it was Auberon Waugh who said that you don’t truly become an adult until both your parents have died. I think the moment comes (hopefully) sooner than that; I think it comes when, for the first time, your boiler is your responsibility, and you realise how expensive the bloody things are. Sadly, I can’t imagine that whatever replaces them will be any cheaper. Either way, boilers join the long list of everyday things I don’t understand how people can afford if they don’t happen to have loads of money. Also in this category: cars, insurance, pensions, residential care and mobile phone contracts. Do feel free to add to this list.
To my own, I have recently added dog ownership. The costs are simply astounding. I knew vets’ bills could be painful, but I assumed you just took the hit with pet insurance premiums and then it was all taken care of. We bought the best version of the best-rated pet insurance we could find and almost looked forward to our first “free” vet consultation. “Yes,” said the vet. “He’s got a cough.” This cough would pass, we were told, and we should keep him away from licking other dogs’ bits until it did, and this information would be £80, please. “Oh, we’re insured,” I said. Oh no we weren’t: not for these £100 consultations, which is roughly what the majority of our vet visits are likely to cost.
To be fair, the insurance will come into its own if our dog needs open heart surgery, a liver transplant or contact lenses or something. But for bog-standard dog stuff, nope, we’ll be digging deep. As we will for dog food, too. It is important, you see, to have precisely the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and what not, appropriate for your breed of dog at its particular age. Our reassuringly specific and expensive dry food contains beta-glucans, pomegranate, and green tea extracts, if you don’t mind. I bought into this nonsense about dog nutrition until one day it dawned on me that if he could survive chewing on other animals’ faeces and all manner of litter and dirt, he could probably manage without green tea extracts.
I found some recipes for dog food in another newspaper. Beef with barley; lamb and millet, and a brilliant anti-dogbreath biscuit featuring parsley and buckwheat. He’s wolfed all three down, apparently unfussed by the absence of beta-glucans. I am looking forward to writing something about cooking for dogs in the Guardian. Ideas welcome. Please no pomegranate.