There’s a saying in Spanish that goes, “En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.” Translated roughly, it means the same thing as, “the cobbler’s son has no shoes.” Except this Medieval version finds the blacksmith using a wooden knife. Sometimes I think I should coin a vet version. It seems some of us deserve it.

Take my own dog: he’s been itchy all weekend and I’ve been dosing him with Benadryl instead of getting him in to perform the diagnostics he needs to help relieve his relatively mild case of the scratchies.

…or my mom’s dog whose dental keeps getting bumped off for yet another week.

And how about one of my good friends (a vet, of course) whose two cats hadn’t been professionally examined in years? (Petting doesn’t count.) Neither had they received bloodwork, X-rays, or dentistries for their miscellaneous mild maladies.

I know it happens in “the best of families,” as my mom likes to say. But why does it happen at all?

Is it because we believe we know our pets well, we’re confident in our clinical skills and can predict the exact moment a problem needs to be addressed (as an emergency)? I hope not—because that’s an idiotic approach.

Is it because we’re so busy that taking time out for our own pets seems like a guilty pleasure or a practice-taxing luxury? Maybe a little.

I’ve had occasion to think about this a lot and finally arrived at a conclusion that rings true for me. I’m just plain scared to handle my own pets’ care. I turn into a simpering wuss when it comes to my own. Even the simple things like skin itchies and nail trims find me useless and cowering when our techs insist on taking care of them. (Let me leave the room first, OK?) Imagine how I handle the big stuff.

So I take my dogs to my boyfriend whenever they need anything major. Even my youg’un’s little limp or my older girl’s inevitably occasional back pain have me running to the surgeon for a series of X-rays and labwork. I have no stomach for it.

Perhaps that’s not everybody’s answer to the cobbler’s dilemma, but it sure beats living without shoes.