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Pet insurance

For those of you who know me, I like to talk, especially about my pets. Today I’m going to tell you the story about my love for Bernese Mountain Dogs and how they helped me to appreciate pet insurance.

My affinity for Berner’s started when I was three years old, my parents friends had two very large females that I absolutely adored. Anytime we visited they were like my babysitters. These family friends went on a trip to Switzerland and brought me back a stuffed Bernese Mountain Dog; I named her Umi after one of their dogs. To this day I still have Umi sitting on my dresser.

Fast forward 15 years to my 18th birthday, the day my life changed forever. That is the day I first saw the love of my life, my soul mate, Grace! It was a complete surprise to me and my entire family, my dad had kept this a secret from everyone. Unfortunately Grace was only a few weeks old at that time and unable to come home yet. I had to wait another month for her to be in my arms, but let me tell you, I will never forget that day!

As many pet parents know, owning a pure bred large breed dog can come with anticipated health issues. Berner’s are prone to Joint Disease, Bloat, Cancer, and some blood disorders. I was lucky enough to have a pretty healthy dog for most of her life. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 3 years old, but this never became life threatening and didn’t require her to be on any medication. The rest of her life was fairly uneventful, until it wasn’t. At 8 years old Grace was diagnosed with cancer. The type she was diagnosed with was a very invasive and terminal cancer. I knew my time with her was short, and I cherished every moment of my last two weeks with her *bring on the tears*.

Before Grace became sick my then boyfriend and I decided to get another Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, Ranger. He was only 2 years old when Grace passed, and he really helped us with the grieving process. He provided us with so much joy, laughter and love in the very tough weeks and months that followed. Ranger is now 5 years old, we just celebrated his birthday on June 29th!

Now is where we get into the insurance part of my story. When I got Grace I was still in high school, about to head off to college to become a vet tech. I don’t ever remember hearing about Pet Insurance from my vet or even that much at school. It wasn’t until I got my first job that I learned a bit more about it. Even then I thought, “This isn’t for me, I’ll just set money aside for an emergency.” When we got Ranger I thought the same thing. It wasn’t until Grace got sick that I started looking into it more. It was too late for me to get insurance for Grace¸ but I really started to think about it for Ranger. He was 2, but was very healthy and had no previously diagnosed health issues.

That all changed on December 26th, 2016. My husband and I were spending Boxing Day at my parents; Ranger, Jason and I were downstairs getting ready to watch a movie. All of a sudden Jason noticed that Ranger had become agitated and seemed to stagger for as second. I thought nothing of it, and then all of a sudden he collapsed into my arms. I quickly gave directions for my husband to go bring the car up front and yelled for my parents to come down and help me carry him.

This all happened in a matter of minutes. For a brief moment I was alone with Ranger, he was barely breathing, all the colour had left is gums, and he just looked lifeless. *again, bring on the tears* I really thought I was going to lose my dog, only 6 months after losing Grace. My parents and I lifted Ranger onto a blanket and carried him to the bottom of that stairs. All of a sudden he stood up! He was very disoriented and extremely anxious. He was able to walk up the stairs with some assistance. Ranger remained stable all the way to Animal Emergency Clinic of Durham Region in Whitby. That 20 minute drive turned into a 40 minutes because of the severe amount of fog that night. That drive felt like it took a lifetime! Once at the clinic we ran tests, took x-rays, etc. I won’t bore you with all the medical stuff that happened, but luckily Ranger remained stable.

When it came time to pay the bill we barely payed attention, we were just so happy to be taking him home. Then came a week of follow up tests... We ran more bloodwork and took more x-rays and had an ultrasound performed. By the time all of this was over we spent approximately $1500, and still didn’t have an answer as to why he collapsed. During all this testing we did discover a few abnormalities. Ranger has a congenitally deformed kidney, his liver, spleen and a few lymph nodes were enlarged and some of his bloodwork values were out of a normal ranger. Two and a half years later and he has not had another incident and has remained mostly healthy.

When discussing Pet Insurance with clients I often refer to Ranger’s story. I waited too long and missed my chance. Yes, I guess technically I could still enroll him, but because Insurance Companies DO NOT cover any pre-existing conditions, there wouldn’t be much point since we found all those abnormalities when he was sick. I strongly advise people to enroll their puppies, kitten and even healthy adult dogs in a pet insurance trial program to get a feel of how they work. Insurance doesn’t have to be a scary word; in fact, it can take some of the scary away in times of emergency.

Just over two years ago we adopted another dog. He came to be a part of our family through some wonderful clients that took him out of a bad situation. He came to us with severely broken leg that we were able to surgically correct. I learned my lesson and signed Miles up for Pet Insurance right away! I am happy to say that Miles is a very happy and healthy two year ball of fluff. I have not had to make any insurance claims as of yet, but knowing I have that support if it is ever needed really provides us with a lot of comfort. And the next Berner we get will be signed up for insurance on the spot!

Please feel free to call or e-mail the clinic if you have questions about pet insurance, I would be happy to help you start this journey.

Kylie, RVT

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