I was never a fan of large dogs including German shepherds.
I was particularly afraid of German shepherds because I was bitten by one as a child.
When my son was little, my husband insisted that every boy needs a dog, and not just a dog, but a big dog.
We found a breeder in DeLeon Springs and picked out the perfect small ball of fur. She was so cute I could never imagine how large she'd become.
The size of her huge paws should have been my first clue.
As she grew, I never noticed how big she was becoming, and I would overlook her clumsiness. It was a little strange when she would try to climb in my lap at 90 pounds.
But now because of Heidi, I have no fear of large dogs.
The other day, Heidi, our German shepherd, got very sick, wouldn't eat and wasn't her same jovial self.
I knew she was really sick when I tried to feed her a piece of bacon and she snubbed her nose at it.
So we called the local mobile vet, and she came to our home.
Normally, I call our veterinarian, but Heidi is just too heavy to carry into his office.
The mobile vet did what she could, but recommended we take her to our normal vet for more extensive testing.
After the mobile vet left, my husband said she must have eaten a critter or a toad.
We have seen her eat anything that crawls or hops.
After full diagnostics including X-rays, blood, etc. etc. etc., at the vet's office, the vet asked us "When did she eat last?" We said about two days ago, and he replied, pointing to the X-ray, "Well, there is definitely something in her stomach."
He gave her some shots and oral medications and sent us on our way.
The total bill for this little episode was $560.
I hope Heidi really enjoyed the capture and consumption of what turned out to be a very expensive hopping meal.
At the vet's office, I realized how important Heidi is to all of us.
While she was sick, I forgave her the shedding, the mud, lapping up my coffee when I'm not looking, chasing the UPS man to the top of my car, eating the cat's food and the occasional jumping on the furniture.
What I did remember was how she always consoled us when we weren't feeling well and let nieces, nephews and grandchildren ride on her back, pull on her ears and tug her tail.
I remember when my husband worked night shift and how safe I felt with her at home with me.
So, is a dog really worth $560 for one visit to the vet?
Ten years ago, I would have questioned it, but Heidi is part of the family. She is one of my best friends.
She is loyal, obedient, protective and gentle. So absolutely she is worth every penny.
I like diamonds, and you can buy a fairly nice piece of jewelry for $560, but I prefer to spend the money on my toad-eating best friend.
Besides, who else would tolerate those funky reindeer antlers I put on her at Christmas?
Kathy Josenhans lives in Port Orange with her husband, Frank, and their German shepherd, Heidi, and a cat named Bogie after Humphrey Bogart. The Josenhans have three grown children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.