From the NYT article on the home edition of the Merck/Meriel manual, which sounds like Gray’s Anatomy meets DSM-IV meets Physician’s Desk Reference for the insane world of domesticated animals:
In its 1,345 pages, readers can find, among other things, the anatomy of a turtle; six signs of hyperparathyroidism in a dog; a list of 27 houseplants poisonous to pets; a description of lockjaw (an infection that leads baby birds to starve to death); instructions for what to do if your pet is shot with an arrow (don’t pull it out); seven causes of liver injuries in horses; the necessary components of a pet travel kit; 161 diseases that can be passed to humans from animals; and yes, a proper diagnosis for a sick gerbil. . . .
The sheer number of creatures found between the book’s covers is likely to distinguish it from other pet health guides, most of which focus on a single species or even a single breed. And the manual, written by 200 veterinarians, is likely to find an eager readership in an animal-crazed nation, where 68.7 million households include at least one pet and $24.5 billion a year is spent on veterinary care, according to a survey released this month by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
I’m wondering, though, if the book can explain why my 6-year-old Newfoundland yelps when I touch her about mid-spine, and why for the past few days she’s been reluctant to lie down. She’s symptomatic in exactly zero other ways, and (with no other sign of pain or discomfort) continues to take her walks, eat her food, play with her new stuffed goose, and run around chasing snowballs whenever she gets the chance. But since I’m a committed neurotic when it comes to my animals, I’m quite likely to blow several hundred dollars tomorrow at the vet’s office, where they will cheerfully take as many x-rays as the situation requires to assure me that my dog hasn’t somehow splintered a vertebrae.
I, on the other hand, have been ignoring a nagging shoulder injury since May 2006, when I forgot that a four-year absence from the game of tennis means your shoulder is four years older than it was the last time you tried to serve. I have no immediate plans to see a doctor about this, since the only time I think about it these days is when I’m throwing snowballs to you-know-who.