Veterinarian Bob Bellamy knew the long-time client standing in his office loved her dog dearly.
So he was shocked when, rather than pay for a battery of tests to determine what was wrong with her elderly pet, she decided to euthanize him.
"Right now I don't think I can afford to do this," she explained.
It may have been the right choice for this particular dog, who was old and seriously ill. But Dr. Bellamy, who practises in Moose Jaw, wonders whether it was a portent of more dire situations to come.
"We are starting to see ... people being a little reluctant to spend money on their pets," he says.
So far, Canadian vets have not experienced a dramatic drop in demand for their services, as reported in the United States. Pet health is, for most animal lovers, akin to a child's health: just not something you skimp on.
But in an economy that is going from bad to worse, it's hard not to tally - and wince at - the cost of spaying, vaccinations, annual visits, pills, operations and other treatments.
And, like Dr. Bellamy, vets across the country are starting to see cases of people declining tests for their pets, putting off elective procedures and thinking twice about operations.