For the past couple of months, my family and I have been trying to plan for our vacation.

We have diligently set aside a little money each week and allowed it to accumulate.

Since I have overcome my fear of flying (for the most part), I really have had this burning desire to see all of the places I have dreamed of visiting since I was a child.

We have spent many hours researching possible destinations on the Internet.

Initially we wanted a beach vacation during Thanksgiving week in order to minimize the amount of work and school days that would be missed; however, my husband's boss was also thinking about taking vacation that week, forcing us to come up with other ideas.

Next, we thought about taking a cruise to Alaska with my aunt and uncle.

I wanted go toward the end of June after school had let out as it seemed like the best time to do all of the activities we were interested in, such as whale watching and dog sledding.

As we began making preparations, I realized that we may have a bit of trouble meeting the weight limit (with all of our gear) for the helicopter ride that would take us to go dog sledding, and since it was so last minute, we decided to scrap the whole thing.

Unable to agree on a new destination, we decided to fall back on our default vacation spot of Seaside Heights, N.J.

Even though much of it was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, I was anxious to see how much they have bounced back from the devastation.

Within a week of booking the motel, we were presented with an opportunity to go on a cruise with friends in December.

Since any place tropical beats the Jersey shore hands down, I canceled my room and anxiously waited to hear back from our friends with our booking information.

On the day we were going to book the cruise, our friend lost his job and had to back out on the cruise plans.

At this point I was beginning to think that we just weren't supposed to go on vacation, and since we didn't want to travel alone, our vacation plans were scrapped once again.

I tried to rebook at our usual motel, but there were no more vacancies.

My husband was starting to get on my nerves, constantly asking me when and where we were going to go on vacation.

For a mini get away, we had planned a four-day weekend to camp with friends and attend the Celtic Fling. We did this last year and had a great time.

Early in the week I noticed my dog wasn't eating as much. He used to be a little overweight, but had lost weight recently.

I thought perhaps it was because we decreased his food intake and increased his exercise.

As the week progressed, I started to really pay attention to how little he was eating and drinking. Occasionally he would smack his lips and I thought that he may have a belly ache or something. No one else noticed anything different about him.

The night before we were supposed to go away, I came home to a full bowl of dog food.

Considering he was always ravenous with his food, I had a feeling something was wrong.

I called his vet, who asked me to bring him in right away.

He was dehydrated and x-rays showed that his colon was dilated five times the normal size and his small intestine was dilated as well; but they couldn't find any blockage that would account for it.

I told them that he had a strange habit of swallowing wet wash rags whole but that he would always vomit them up. (He would sneak them out of the bath tub or the laundry hamper.)

I was absolutely certain that was the culprit, although I didn't know why he hadn't brought it back up.

To make a long story short, I then took him to a veterinary hospital in Plains, where doctors performed emergency surgery on him the next day.

My dog had swallowed not one, but two wash rags whole. One of them was closer to the size of a hand towel.

Had I not paid attention and acted upon his decreased appetite and other warning signals, no doubt I would have come home to a dead dog.

While the surgery was thankfully $2,000 less than the high end of the estimate, it was still expensive enough to wipe out any hopes we had for a vacation this year.

Had we persevered with booking a vacation, we would not have had the money to pay for his costly surgery.

Some would say that he is just a dog and that we were nuts for putting out that amount of money for him. I say that he is family and when we brought him into our home, we had a responsibility to care for his needs.

I also know that we, as pet owners, need to be more diligent and "childproof" our home so that something like this never happens again.

I used to become upset when things didn't work out as I wanted them to, but have since learned that sometimes it's for the best.

I really think someone was looking out for him and for us, and I'm thankful for that.

It looks like my vacation this year will consist of long walks and dips in the lake with my furry child. I am thankful for that too.