After the £1,100 quote from the vet in London I drove down the A3 and out the other side of the Hindhead tunnel in search of affordable healthcare for the spaniel.
On the Surrey-Hampshire border, I found a well-recommended vet who had been in practice for 40 years and appeared to be still engaged in the treatment of animals for a small amount of money above the price of the labour and materials, claiming his reasonable costs back from the insurance rather than making the client pay up front.
He was past retirement age and clearly only practising for vocational reasons: a genuine fascination with veterinary medicine, a deep love of his job, and the satisfaction of curing much-loved pets.
The poor man will be censured by the veterinary professional bodies if they find out he is following such an outdated ethical code so I won’t give his identity away.
Rather than the eye-watering amount the London vet quoted me, he said the operation to remove the small lump would be £360 including lab fees. When I fumbled gratefully in my handbag to seal the deal, the cheery receptionist refused to take my debit card, saying there was no need to give them anything up front. I could settle the excess of £60 on my policy after the procedure and they would send off to the pet insurance for the rest.
The London vet had outlined a radical plan to cut away a small but significant surface area of my dog in a defensive op, just in case the lump turned out to be nasty. They would have to do chest X-rays first, they said, in case anything from the lump that might turn out to be nasty had spread. They also wanted to neuter her while she was under anaesthetic.