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?
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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.”

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.”

“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.

7 thoughts on “What Happens If Your Dog Is Sick and You Have a Job?”

  1. My dog Caleb hasn’t been feeling well these past few months, which is why I’ve decided to start looking for a veterinarian that will be able to address his needs. Well, I agree with you that it’s quite hard to juggle work and take care of a sick dog. It’s just sad to learn that your pet Oscar died a year later; it must have been heartbreaking.

  2. Well my dog was diagnosed with Parvo Tuesday @ noon! From the vet because I noticed he was off the night before when I got home I took him as soon as I got up! Well I texted my boss & they said I put them in a bind & they didn’t have anyone to cover my shift so I thought about it an texted back I don’t know what to tell them I have to be there for my Dog! & that I had to keep fluids in him through an IV & force feed him with a syringe! I have been the last two days I’m seeing hope today but yesterday was rough. & the whole time I had my boss texting me telling me I needed to show up for my shift.. completely ignoring my comments about my Dog! To give you a back story too.. I have been there 7 months & have never called in not one day! & worked multiple shifts for other people including my boss . So.. this has just gotten under my skin I really want to tell them to figure it out I won’t be back.. because my boss has children an had had to miss & I’ve never given her any kind of attitude about it & my dog is my child … he’s only 5 months old they told me to put him in a Vet clinic !! They had the nerve .. I honestly have no idea how I have kept my cool through this.. with them… for one the medicine & the visit alone was $200 bucks .. an to stay over night in an unfamiliar place with a contagious disease so he would have to be confined by himself … & Only god knows for how long or if he would get depressed!?! & how much it would cost or the thought of something happening an not being there breaks my heart I couldn’t can’t! I would always wondered if they did everything they could. Or if he had a better chance at home so I had to make a decision to stay an take care of him or to go & hope he didn’t dehydrate to death! So I made the choice my heart said to stay home an I told them I wouldn’t be able to make it tomorrow either he is still sick it takes 48-72 hours or a weeks to heal from this disease I am giving him a drink or a bite of food when he needs it ? I don’t understand how some people can be so cold hearted. So now I’m left wondering should I even stay @ that work place !!

  3. My dog was having internal bleeding. I emailed my manager at midnight and told her family emergency. I told her will have to do half day. When I got to work she wrote me up for stealing hours because I put on time sheet personal time instead of unexcused lateness. Than she said pets are not family member so its “unexcused lateness.” Now my job on the line because I chose my bleeding dogs life.

  4. Hi. So I just got of working from 10pm to 6 am. I immedtily had to drive home pick up my cat who was ill rush them to the vet and found out he had a high high fever and that the vet will call me through out the day to give me up dates on my cats condition. The vet bill is already up to 350. So I called my District Manager to see if I could get out of my shift at 5pm because the last time I tried to call out for an emergency was for my mother who was in the Ear and I called out 10 hours before my shift and got told I still had to come in, even though my mom potentially could have been facing heart surgery (thank god she didn’t need it). Any ways long story short got told “ not something we normally get a call about, but can’t you sleep between the vet giving you calls”. Just thought I should put in l that I have a legal responsibility for my pet but who am I kidding I’d my company didn’t care about my mom should have realized they don’t care about my pet.

  5. Genuine and Honest

    Then if your employer decides to dismiss you for gross misconduct you can sit at home all day with your dog can’t you. You have a responsibility to your employer who pays your bills. You should seek unpaid time off to care for your sick pet. It is totally irresponsible of people to put the onus on the employer and the team they work with. Sick pay is designed as a safety net to keep you in employment. If you then need to take genuine time off for sickness you could be dismissed for taking too many sick days. I do wish people would own their own responsibility to their life choices.

  6. I think I will be able to relate with your friend in that I will not be able to pay attention to my job if I know that my pet is sick and that I would not care about the pay as long as I am there for him. My pet is like a family member, and I do not want to abandon him when he is at his weakest. This helped me make up my mind. I will take my pet to the vet tomorrow regardless of whether I make it to work later or not.

  7. I can agree with you when you said that bosses tend to be more understanding when it comes to ailing children than to ailing pets. That won’t stop me though. If my pet is ever sick, I will have no problem leaving work to tend to him. And if he needs something like a surgery, I am willing to be gone for a week or so. He is part of the family after all.

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