This is not the first time I've been through this, nor will it be the last. My quirky, beautiful, green-eyed, talking, kit-kat, Gabby, finally lost her battle with illness and age. If you're an animal lover, you are destined to have your heart broken many times over, by having to say goodbye to a beloved pet.

It has only been over the last several years, however, that I have been made keenly aware that the devastating impact on your mental health is compounded by the punch-to-the gut shock of the cost of veterinary services.

I know that everything is increasingly expensive and that people need to be paid a living wage. I understand how costly it is to maintain and replace equipment. The education, skill, and fortitude required to be a veterinarian aren't beyond my comprehension, but I could never do it.

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I have had the honor of knowing some extraordinary veterinarians in my life due to the number of furry children I've had. The thing that makes them stand out is not their skill at diagnosis and/or treatment, although that was extraordinary.

It was first and foremost, their love of animals, followed closely by their kindness, and perception of the deep bond between people and their pets. It showed in everything they said and did, especially at the end of a pet's life.

They understood that most people who love their pets are by and large, not particularly well-off. And they made certain accommodations, (like allowing payments to be made) in lieu of saying, "if you can't afford them, you shouldn't have them!"

If it wasn't for the unimaginable love and generosity of two close friends last week (you know who you are), not only would I be grief-stricken, I would also be losing sleep over how to pay upcoming bills.

Yes, they have pet insurance now, yes, you should set money aside every week for your pet's care, and there are even financing plans. I did consider pet insurance, but the premiums were fairly steep and covered little. I do try to set money aside, but there usually is little, to none, to use. And don't even get me started on finance plans for pet care!

I hope and pray that you have a vet you love. One who not only cares for your pets but also, for you.

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