Hip Dysplasia and the Opportunity Cost of Social Distancing

Hip Dysplasia and the Opportunity Cost of Social Distancing

“Slowing the Curve” for the Greater Good

Social distancing is what we are all asked to embrace and adhere to for the greater good. 

What started with the public courtesy of the 6-foot rule has turned into street patrol by the National Guard, home arrest for nearly 330 million Americans, and untold trillions of dollars in bailouts. 

But what is the opportunity cost of such actions by our government?  What is the opportunity cost to us as mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, employees, and dog owners?  

These are the questions I ponder as I lie awake in bed each night.  

As I kiss my beautiful children, my husband, and two Mastiffs goodnight, I pray for a solution.  A better tomorrow.

A miracle.  

Changing Life with Hip Dysplasia

What I thought was a partial canine cruciate ligament (CCL) tear was actually “Bi-lateral hip dysplasia, more severe on the left.” 

Hip Dysplasia and the Opportunity Cost of Social Distancing
© 2020 Big Dog Mom, LLC

In the last two weeks, I have gone through a range of emotions about Junior’s diagnosis, none of which are positive. 

My heart breaks for him.  

But here is the cold hard truth you may not want to hear. 

I have to make choices now.  I am being forced to make choices.  

The social distancing mandate, “stay at home” orders, and the prospect of complete and utter financial ruin is forcing me to make choices for myself, my family, and my dogs. 

Let’s walk through some of them… 

Opportunity Cost Defined

Let’s start with what an opportunity cost is.  

According to Inc.com

“The concept of opportunity cost may be applied to many different situations. It should be considered whenever circumstances are such that scarcity necessitates the election of one option over another. Opportunity cost is usually defined in terms of money, but it may also be considered in terms of time, person-hours, mechanical output, or any other finite resource.”

Put simply, the opportunity cost is the value of the alternative option you’ve given up after making a choice. 

For instance, the opportunity cost of buying an expensive car would be the money you could have spent on a summer vacation, investing in retirement, putting money away for your child’s education or something else.

Opportunity Cost of Social Distancing

Beyond the obvious sacrifices we are making, what else will we not be doing now or in the future should these policies continue?  As “flattening the curve” becomes “not until a vaccine” for the next 18 months. 

  1. Elective surgery for hip dysplasia will be low on the priority list compared with food, housing, and other necessities.  
  2. Preventive healthcare for families and pets will be second to food, housing and the basic needs of life.  Some emergencies will also be dismissed to save money
  3. Quantity versus quality of nutrition will be a continuous balance with finite financial resources.  Organic will become a luxury most families will not justify. 
  4. There will be no petty cash or miscellaneous category in the family budget.  Family beach vacations will become fun days in the park as money will need to be saved for food, housing, and other necessities. 
  5. Families will be forced to choose between feeding their family or feeding their pets. If you want to see a dog rescue crisis, just wait!  If dog owners are forced to choose between their children or their dogs.  Dogs will lose.  
  6. Rather than spending time investing, planning our future, and contributing to making our country better, we will be forced to stand in bread lines like in the 1930s. Only this time we will be standing in line for toilet paper and eggs.  
If you want to see a dog rescue crisis, just wait! If dog owners are forced to choose between their children or their dogs. Dogs will lose. Click to Tweet

Consider that each one of these decisions comes with ramifications.  

When we make the choice to put off preventive healthcare, elective surgeries, or other non-life sustaining treatments for ourselves or our pets, that hurts general and specialty physicians, veterinarians, pharmacies, and countless others whose livelihoods depend on us.  

Opportunity cost of social distancing for dog owners - 1

And what is seemingly a trivial choice to some – raw food or kibble for our dogs is a decision that, too, has far-reaching consequences.  From the raw-food co-op and employees who are now out of business to the hundreds of premium pet foods who also lose or go out of business.

Service providers of all kinds will join the ranks in the unemployment lines as families choose to groom their own dogs, cut their own lawns, and even trim their own hair.   

These are the facts.  

You can dispute them now, but the reality of opportunity costs of social distancing is fast approaching.  

This is a choice we are making right now if we don’t stand up!  

Public Policy NOT Science

I know many of you are screaming at me right now,

“This is a pandemic! A virus that has never been seen before!  And it’s spreading exponentially! We must “slow the curve!” 

Settle down and take a breath.

First, I must say I find it ironic how the “every life matters” mantra only matters when social distancing is the means to an end.  I don’t recall those cries with each of the near 50,000 deaths from flu over the last 8 months.  

Data as of March 22 show a declining less than 1% death rate among those who are tested for COVID-19.  And while the number of people being tested, and testing positive, is increasing, the rate of serious complications and death are very, very low.

However, there is a larger point that needs addressing. 

As you sit and pick and choose winners and losers in this pandemic, consider who really is losing and at what cost.  

Businesses that make up the backbone of our economy are going under.  Life savings of senior citizens are being wiped out without the luxury of time and dollar-cost averaging.  

My father is 70.  A retired Army pilot and war hero.  He served his country with honor and courage and patriotism, like so many his age. 

For reasons beyond just his age, my dad is the epitome of the “greater good” we are trying to protect from COVID-19. 

And trust me.  There is no one on this earth who wants to protect him more than me!

But when I asked him what scares him most about the coronavirus and the public policy steps that are being taken right now, here is what he had to say,

“Sweetie, I am not afraid.  I have my faith in God and know that I am in His hands.  However, if the flight school closes and I lose my job, that is when real fear will set in. I do not want government money.  I want to do the work I love.” 

Opportunity cost of social distancing for dog owners
© 2020 Big Dog Mom, LLC

We have days, not weeks before families like mine will be forced to make heartbreaking choices.  

Whether this means putting off life-saving surgery for hip dysplasia or simply not supporting local small businesses like dog groomers, restaurants, landscapers, and karate dojos.  

And while Democrats and Republicans bicker about whose package is bigger, 330 million Americans suffer in isolation unnecessarily in their homes. 

Social distancing flies in the face of everything we are as Americans. 

We built this country together.  With hard work, handshakes, and integrity.  

We may wear gloves on our hands, but we will never shy from a challenge.  

And we don’t have to destroy America to do it! 

Social distancing flies in the face of everything we are as Americans. We built this country together. With hard work, handshakes, and integrity. Click to Tweet

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  1. Brandie P says:

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I wish that our fellow Americans could see this and understand what this is going to do our economy, our children’s education, and so many services that we have taken for granted for so long. I appreciate the fact that someone else is seeing the truth.

    1. Thank you so much, Brandie! This is not easy for any of us and I feel like I can speak for many people, we are all trying to find some justification for it. I am praying for a miracle right now as I know many businesses who have days not weeks before they are insolvent. I agree that we take so much of our life and our comforts for granted. That was the impetus for my list of stark realities should this continue for weeks on end or longer.

    2. Marcia McGrory says:

      Thank you. I for one am not complying…I go to the store daily. Plan to add lowes to my daily trips. I take donuts to my vet.
      I still teach dog training to my student and train my dogs daily.
      Your thoughts are correct and if everyone would get behind our President we have light at the end of the tunnel. How dare he disagree with the medical professionals that we need to stay in place for months.
      Easter is coming and we need to free by then..

  2. Thank You to THE BIG DOG MOM who is the voice for the voiceless. I truly commend, stand behind your words and proudly stand with you as sure as I am writing my own words. It is truly a time for choices and not bickering. Is a package of $1000-$3000 even going to make a dent in those who have never saved a cent or “prepared” for anything in their life? My answer, NO. It is time for Americans who have “drank the Kool-Aid” to choose another beverage! When we are asked to social distance, FINE, I get it! When we witness arguments over toilet paper, I’m confused. When we are forced to choose between family and “MAN’S BEST FRIEND”, I will NEVER agree with this. MAN’S BEST FRIEND is part of my family. In the words of my grandmother, “I’m old, and it is what it is. I am still going to hug you, you’re my granddaughter.” This puts a lot in perspective for me. Yes COVID-19 is a pandemic, is rapidly spreading and we ALL should take precautions to contain. YES, YES & YES! But fighting over whos political package is “better”, is not only BS but SELFISH! REP’s & DEM’s get your SH!T together, agree to disagree and COMMIT to making this country what our Vets fought hard for and our founding Fathers built! #nuffsaid

    1. AMEN, my sweet friend! I could not have said it any better myself. Even writing about the possibility of us having to choose between our lives and families and our dogs brought me to tears. It is unthinkable. However, if there comes a day in the not so distant future if this isn’t resolved quickly, businesses will be out of business and we will all be dependent on the government for our livelihood. You are right. There is no way $1000 or even $3000 is going to make a dent in what the American people need. There is NO amount of printed money that fixes this. Which is why I believe there is a better way. A way that protects those at greatest risk, while allowing the rest of the country to go back to work. What is happening now is ridiculous on so many levels and it foretells our future if we don’t stand up and let our voices of sanity be heard.

  3. Thanks for writing this, it is so relevant, even for people without dogs. Right now, we are struggling with not being able to socialize our 3 month old GSD. We planned on showing him, and doing agility, but now….? And even though my husband’s job is considered essential, there is not enough work to go around. How long can the government provide us with unemployment?

    1. My heart goes out to you, your husband, and your puppy! You bring up such a great point about socialization that I think I’m going to run with. I shared in my Facebook group a bunch of suggestions to another puppy owner about how to socialize her puppy during this time, so I think I will put all of that into another blog post. Be on the lookout for that in the next few days. Perhaps some of those suggestions will help you during this very scary time. I pray, like you, that this ends soon with the least damage to our people and our country. I don’t know what work your husband does, but please thank him for me. This isn’t easy for anyone.

  4. Great post Stephanie. I agree with you 100%. In my county, we have been locked down since the 16th. In my county, we have 64 cases and no deaths. In the whole state of California, we have 2,588 cases and 53 deaths. That is less than 1% mortality. Much lower than the 10% mortality from the seasonal flu, that comes every year. Our county health dept. says “The majority of individuals with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms.” Why are we freaking out? We are freaking out because the media is telling us to. The media gives you no hope. They are not telling you that the death rate is very low. They just want us in that state of fear. I am in a high risk age group being 66 years of age. I am not worried about the virus, but I am concerned about the Government’s next step. How long is this going to go on. I remember the Hong Kong flu in 1968. My little niece was two and she caught it and yes she was very ill, but now she is a beautiful, strong and healthy woman with a family and her first Grandchild. We have been afraid of getting any kind of sickness for so long, not understanding that we need to get sick sometimes in order to strengthen our immune system. We also can strengthen our immune systems by eating good wholesome and nutrient dense foods, like liver and eggs and foods high in vitamins A C D and K. We have been eating nutrient poor and industrialized foods for so long that many can’t fight a common cold. We need to get outside and into the early morning sunshine which is one of the healthiest things you can do.
    I am sorry to hear about Juniors diagnosis. I know you will do the best you can for him.

  5. I am sorry to hear about Junior’s diagnosis of bilateral hip dysplasia. I have been a vet tech for a veterinary surgeon for over 30 years and know how devastating it can be. We don’t perform hip replacement surgery at our hospital, but I am aware that it is an extremely expensive surgery. The majority of our clients would not be able to afford this surgery, even at the best of times. As a vet tech, my salary has never afforded me many luxuries and have often struggled to pay bills, but I have always loved what I do and I get great satisfaction from helping animals in need. So, you could say, that I have made financial sacrifices in my life for the good of others. Now, we must all sacrifice for the good of others. It’s amazing to me how people can be so cavalier about people dying. What is the magic number? At what point will people’s compassion kick in and say that this is enough death? 500? 1000? 5000? So 1% mortality rate is ok? We can all live with that? Are you ok with a member of your family being part of that 1%? I am not and my hope is that nobody reading this blog becomes a part of that statistic. I don’t know what the answer is, but if my social distancing saves your father’s life, it is worth it to me, even if he won’t appreciate it.

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