Our dog Zoe has chronic ear infections; we can tell when she's coming down with another bout because she shakes her head, making her rabies tag jingle against her collar buckle. In some houses, the sound of jingling means Christmas is coming; in our house, it means the dog has an ear infection.
The procedure for treating her infection is three-fold: first, we must write a large check to the veterinarian, second, we wash out her ears with a highly-diluted solution of salicylic acid, then we squirt in ointment that makes the fur around her ears look somewhat greasy, as if through some inexplicable activity, she'd gotten her ears nasty - those and nothing else. After cleaning her ears and applying ointment, we also give her a doggy treat, which is not specifically part of the treatment, but a reward for her patience with us during the other procedures.
Nancy and I have acknowledged, since these infections have become an increasingly common feature of Zoe's life, that even once the infection clears up, we will need to continue cleansing her ears with the salicylic acid at least once a week. Keeping her ears clean should help prevent future outbreaks.
And here is the strange thing; Zoe does nothing to contribute to the household's finances - she does not pull a sled, herd sheep, or carry casks of brandy to marooned skiers. She does bark at random noises for us, for example, ringing doorbells on television, but this is not nearly as helpful as she perhaps imagines. She does nothing except eat, sleep, and lick herself - and shake her head when she has an ear infection - and yet Nancy and I are undertaking for the rest of her life, to get down on the floor with her once a week, squirt cleanser into each ear and massage it around with our fingers, and then reward her for putting up with it. This is in addition to all the other duties she imposes on us, duties we take on gladly; for example, when she begins scratching her butt on the carpet a certain way, we have to look at her backside and... But I will spare you that detail.
I say none of this in the spirit of resentment, far from it. I'm really happy to do it. The fact is, I lied earlier when I said Zoe does nothing to contribute to the household. She loves us, absolutely and without reserve. Love is worth a great deal.