By Mike Roche
In 2000, a freak accident resulted in my first French Brittany, Lily, breaking her femur. It happened over a weekend and we were referred to an emergency animal hospital in Springfield. At the time, Lily was a young hunting dog who had gotten really good at it and there was no doubt this hunter was willing to do whatever it took to take care of her and get her back in action.
It was a really stressful journey to the hospital, but the vet did a really great job, starting with his bedside manner with both the dog and his frantic owner. The resulting surgery, which involved inserting a stainless steel rod into the bone, was successful, and the dog was on an external brace for months. When he was finally removed, she recovered quickly and hunted as if nothing had happened in the last seven years of his life. To this day, it’s still the standard by which the French Brittany’s who followed her (Dinah, Laney, and now Tessie) will be judged. It was a grouse dog!
The cost of the surgery put a strain on this teacher’s budget. A few more part-time jobs and we managed to stay solvent. At the time, one of my side jobs was writing for a new Internet magazine, All Outdoors Today. My research on pet insurance led to an in-depth article and lots of information about pet insurance. The new and booming industry was just starting up and there were a couple of companies that were leading the way in coverage. You’d think with all that research my dog would be covered. No!
During her hunting tenure, Lily suffered a few minor cuts but nothing serious. Dinah, who came on board when Lily was diagnosed with breast cancer, has had a few crashes. A severe cut on his paw severed a blood vessel and required a tourniquet and a quick trip to a vet. Did you have pet insurance? Not again. Then came Laney. She quickly identified herself as a chewer on things. She started by swallowing an entire 40 foot parachute cord which was her edge. Luckily, Pat Perry gave me advice on using the mineral oil, and the rope was in the pen, neatly and compactly piled up in the morning, so no trip to the vet was necessary.
For Laney, however, that was just the beginning. Anything that was carelessly left lying around, such as socks and especially women’s underwear, disappeared and usually reappeared on the lawn. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case. Twice the object failed and required surgery. The money could have bought a couple of good rifles or a boat. Its brilliant owner still didn’t have insurance. With Tessie’s arrival, it was time to look into pet insurance again.
In truth, more than a month was spent looking into pet insurance. As everyone knows, the Internet has a plethora of information on every topic, but it also has a slant and sponsorship earns you great reviews. Comparing products was boring. Among the brands out there are Pumpkin, Figo, Lemonade, ManyPets, SPOT, Wagmo, healthypaws, Paws, ASPCA, Embrace, MetLife, and Trupanion. They are all similar and each has advantages, but it was confusing to say the least. Another source of confusion is the fact that there are insurance products to pay for medical procedures and treatments and also pet healthcare products that cover regular visits and care. After all was said and done, my goals were first, to protect against the major surgical mishap and second, to manage my yearly vet costs. The dogs receive regular checkups and all available vaccines and protections. Dogs need to be protected from things like rabies, Lyme disease and leptospirosis and flea and tick protection and parasites also need to be addressed by responsible pet owners.
In the end, the choice fell on Trupanion. What sold me were a number of factors. My ability to choose the level of protection (and therefore cost), automatic payment to the vet (and near-universal coverage from vets across the country), and well-trained 24/7 staff who answer your call . In my experience, animals rarely have problems during normal business hours! In retrospect, I wish I’d called Trupanion sooner. Susan McKendrick, the employee who answered my call, listened to me, understood what information I was looking for, and answered my questions clearly. Hopefully, we’ll never need to use insurance, but this time it’s a small price to pay for protection!
On the second issue, my choice was to try and manage my annual costs for Tessie by taking advantage of the Care Club program at Adams Animal Hospital. Essentially, you pay upfront for the most common vaccines, tests, and treatments. Included are two tests, distemper, bordetella, rabies, lyme leptospirosis and flu vaccines, blood tests and urinalysis, and a microchip implant. Tessie had a visit this week and it was nice to have her at no cost. Even better, you can pay the plan monthly interest-free! Maybe after all these years this writer has gotten smarter.
This Sunday, the Orange Gun will be holding their annual Kids Fishing Derby at the club ponds on West River Street in Orange. Fishing for all ages will be from 9-11 and is free for all. With two ponds stocked with hungry trout, all age groups fish at the same time and every child will win a prize and enjoy complimentary hot dogs and sodas. The club does a great job and all the kids enjoy fishing.
Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsmans Corner since 1984 and has served as a consultant to the MaharFishN Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, former Connecticut Valley District representative to the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, was a Massachusetts Hunter Education instructor, and is a guide to authorized hunting of New York. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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