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What Happens If Your Dog Is Sick and You Have a Job?

Do you go to work anyway? Or do you find a way to stay home, even if it means fibbing to the boss?

 |  Nov 7th 2012  |   107 Contributions


A while back, my friend "Maggie" (not her real name) almost lost her job because she called in sick. Her boss wasn't fond of sick days as it was, and he had made it very clear that the fewer sick days, the better, especially in that economy.

When Maggie told him that the sick day was really to take care of her dog, he was livid.

"At first he told me not to bother to come to work again," she said. "Then when I started telling him that my dog could be dying, he eased up a bit. He said I'd have a day to deal with it, but that I wouldn't be paid."

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Sick, lonely dog photo by Shutterstock

Maggie didn't care about the pay. She wanted to be there for Oscar, the Rottie mix she'd rescued when he was a year old. The 11-year-old gentle giant was having major renal issues, and despite her administering subcutaneous fluids and giving him meds round the clock, he was really struggling.

The day she called in sick to care for him, she was afraid he was on his way out. She spent the day between the vet's and home. She was able to help Oscar get through that very bad day, and then had a friend check on him the next couple of days when she went back to work. She was very grateful when Friday evening came along.

"It was horrible being at work knowing Oscar was all by himself except for my friend who went over twice a day. I just couldn't focus on work, and got nothing done anyway," she said. "Oscar was always there for me, and I wanted to be there for him."

Oscar died a year later. Maggie had the fortune of scheduling a vacation week around the same time that he was at death's door. "But if it came down to getting fired or being there for Oscar, there would be no question. I'd be there for him and deal with the consequences later."

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Worried man at work photo by Shutterstock

"Home alone" may be a cute idea for a movie, but when it comes to ailing dogs, it's enough to make your stomach churn. If you've ever had to go to work and leave your sick dog alone, you'll know the feeling. You can't even call your beloved dog to check in. He's just there, alone.

Bosses tend to be more understanding about sick kids than sick pets. Another friend took a few days off to tend to her ailing pooch a few months ago. I asked what she told her boss. "I said it was 'female troubles.' The truth wouldn't have gone over so big. But my coworker could easily take a few days off because her kid was sick, and that was no problem. She didn't have to lie," she told me.

With the economy picking up and the job market improving, more people will be heading back into the workforce. That's great news, of course, but it also means more dogs will be back to being left alone. And that means more worried owners, and more dogs who have to face sick days with no one there for them.

Have you been through this before? What did it feel like to be at work while you really wanted to be able to take care of your dog? Or did you just not go to work? If so, did you tell the truth to your boss? Let's talk! 

*Her name has been changed because she finally left her awful job and is looking for a new one. 

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