By Mike Roche
In 2000, a freak accident resulted in my first French Brittany, Lily, breaking her femur. It happened on a weekend and we were referred to an emergency animal hospital in Springfield. At the time, Lily was a young bird dog who had gotten really good and there was no doubt that this hunter was willing to do whatever it took to take care of her and get her back into action.
It was a very stressful ride to the hospital, but the vet really did a great job, starting with his “bedside manner” with the dog and his frantic owner. The resulting surgery, which involved inserting a stainless steel rod into the bone, was successful and the dog had an external brace for months. When it was finally removed, she recovered quickly and hunted as if nothing had happened for the last seven years of her life. To this day, she is still the standard by which French Bretons who followed her (Dinah, Laney and now Tessie) will be judged. It was a grouse dog!
The cost of the operation strains the budget of this teacher. A few more part-time jobs and we were able to stay solvent. At that time, one of my extra jobs was writing for a new internet magazine, “All Outdoors Today”. My research on pet insurance resulted in a feature article and lots of information on pet insurance. The booming new industry was beginning, and a few companies were at the forefront of coverage. You would think that with all this research, my dog would then be covered. No!
During her hunting tenure, Lily had a few minor cuts but nothing major. Dinah, who came on board when Lily was diagnosed with breast cancer, has had a few mishaps. A severe cut to the paw severed a blood vessel and required a tourniquet and a quick trip to the vet. Did she have pet insurance? No again. Then came Laney. She quickly identified as a chewer of things. She started by swallowing a whole 40-foot parachute cord that was her head. Luckily Pat Perry gave me advice on using mineral oil and the rope was in the pen neatly and tightly bundled up in the morning so no trip to the vet was necessary.
For Laney, however, that was just the beginning. Anything carelessly left around, such as socks and especially women’s underwear, usually disappeared and reappeared on the lawn. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Twice the object failed to come out and surgery was required. The money could have bought some really good shotguns or a boat. Its brilliant owner still had no insurance. With the arrival of Tessie, it was time to look again at pet insurance.
In truth, more than a month was spent on pet insurance. As everyone knows the internet has a plethora of information on all topics but it also has a slant and sponsorship buys you great reviews. Doing a product comparison was tedious. Some of the brands available include Pumpkin, Figo, Lemonade, ManyPets, SPOT, Wagmo, healthypaws, Paws, ASPCA, Embrace, MetLife, and Trupanion. They are all similar and each has benefits, but this was confusing to say the least. The fact that there are insurance products to pay for medical procedures and treatments, as well as pet health products that cover regular visits and care, is also puzzling. After all was said and done, my goals were first to protect myself against “large scale” surgical incidents and second to manage my annual vet bills. Dogs receive regular check-ups and all available vaccines and protections. Dogs should be protected against things like rabies, Lyme disease and leptospirosis and protection against fleas and ticks and parasites should also be treated by responsible pet owners.
In the end, the choice fell on Trupanion. What sold me was a number of factors. My ability to choose the level of protection (and therefore the cost), automatic payment to the vet (and nearly universal coverage by vets across the country), and the well-trained staff around the clock who take your call. In my experience, pets rarely have problems during normal working hours! Looking back, I wish I had called Trupanion first. Susan McKendrick, the employee who took my call, listened to me, understood the information I was looking for and answered my questions clearly. Hopefully we never need to use insurance, but it’s a small price to pay for protection this time!
On the second issue, my choice was to try to manage my annual costs for Tessie by taking advantage of the Care Club program at Adams Animal Hospital. Essentially, you prepay for the most common vaccines, tests, and treatments. Included are two exams, Distemper, Bordetella, Rabies, Lyme Leptospirosis and influenza vaccines, blood tests and urine tests and a microchip implant. Tessie had a visit this week and it was nice that it didn’t cost anything. Even better, you can pay for the plan monthly without interest! Maybe after all these years, this writer has gotten better.
This Sunday, the Orange Gun is holding its annual Kid’s Fishing Derby at the West River Street club ponds in Orange. Fishing for all ages will be ages 9-11 and is free for all. With two ponds full of hungry trout, all age groups fish at the same time and every child will win a prize and enjoy free hot dogs and sodas. The club does a great job and all children can enjoy the fun of fishing.
Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as a counselor for the MaharFish’N Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, former Connecticut Valley District representative on the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, served as a fish education instructor Massachusetts hunters. and is a licensed hunting guide in New York. He can be reached at [email protected].