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Pet Insurance Month 2012 Finalist: Heather and Sebastian

September is Pet Insurance Month and in honor of this, Trupanion celebrated the special bond that we have with our pets. We collected your stories explaining how your pet changed your life. It wasn’t easy, but we chose our top 5 finalists and Heather’s story is one of them.

Sebastian was just a dog who needed a girl and I was just a girl who needed a dog when I adopted him sight unseen 12 years ago. He was a stray who had been hit by a car. Fate was in his favor that day because an animal lover stopped traffic to save his life. Then he came into mine. I was 29, sad and lonely. I was also overweight. I had to carry him up and down the stairs for the first month. He ate a box of books and ran out the door almost daily. We managed to find a common ground and we moved to New York City together.

Without the luxury of a backyard, I was forced to walk Sebastian at least three times a day. Finally, I had a purpose to go outside no matter the weather. Sebastian had tons of energy and I discovered that the longer he was outside the more relaxed he was inside. We started walking at first, then we tackled the hills, woods, and eventually we were running. I also learned how to rollerblade for him since I could never run as fast as he could. I lost 70 pounds with my canine personal trainer. I rented day cars every other week so we could hike in the mountains. One day, while off leash, he walked into the Hudson River and started dog paddling. When he emerged, his fur dripping water, his face blackened by mud, and his mouth grinning wide, I cried because I felt his joy.

When I looked at the world through the eyes of my dog, I saw the beauty on earth and in nature. He loved life. He loved the simple things: a hotdog, an illicit swim in Central Park, a ride in a cab. My dog made me a better person, he taught me what love was.

Sebastian was a true carnivore, but I was a vegetarian. Therefore, my neighbors felt bad for Sebastian and showered him with leftover meat scraps and rib bones. I thought those were safe. One evening he came into the living room pawing at his face and his jaw looked lopsided. I rushed him into a taxi to the emergency vet; I thought he dislocated his jaw. Luckily, he only had a shard of bone stuck between his teeth that he managed to dislodge by the time we arrived. There was no charge that day. I decided that Sebastian had orchestrated the incident so he could receive a round trip in a taxi. His head was out the window the whole way back. That event left a mark on me. The idea of losing my dog to jaw surgery or an abdominal obstruction that I couldn’t pay for frightened me. I looked into pet insurance. I researched all the companies and decided on Trupanion because they covered my senior dog for both illness and injury. Other companies only covered a senior dog for injury. That was a year and a half ago.

I was expecting to use the insurance for a stomach related problem because my boy had a penchant for sidewalk grub. As much as I tried, I could not get every chicken bone he grasped and gulped. Last week after dinner at a sidewalk cafe, Sebastian did not want to walk home. He laid down on the sidewalk with labored breathing. A strong young man helped me get Sebastian in a taxicab and we were on our way to midtown. I knew something was wrong because he didn’t even try to look out the window. At the emergency vet they saw that his gums were pale which meant bleeding. They took him downstairs for an ultrasound right away. Knowing I had Sebastian covered by Trupanion provided me with confidence and peace as the vet gave me the options. My baby was bleeding in his stomach somewhere and he needed major surgery. The surgeon said he was otherwise strong, healthy and fit and could handle the procedure. Because of my Trupanion policy I was able to say yes. The moment that I feared had arrived; I did not have to put my dog down because of financial hardship. I saw him before surgery and he licked my face. I told him I loved him.

Unfortunately, they discovered numerous bleeding tumors in his liver that they could not fix. He was euthanized with me at his side. Although, Sebastian Waghelstein could not be saved, his Trupanion policy gave him a chance at survival and gave me the peace in knowing we did all we could. A pre filled claim form was faxed to the vet and I was able to focus on grieving for my best friend, or interspecies life mate, as I call him. I miss him terribly right now, but at least I don’t have to live with regret.

If Heather’s story is your favorite, vote for it by clicking the Facebook ‘Like’ button on this post.

Read the full details and rules here.

About Stacy @Trupanion

Stacy Kowalchuk is a dog mom to her rescued Whippet-mix, Ellie. During the week, you can find Stacy surfing (the internet, that is) and managing Trupanion's presence in the social media world. In her free time, Stacy likes to bake, especially cupcakes! To balance her culinary affinity, she also likes to stay active, especially with activities that include her dog such as hiking and going to dog parks.

9 Responses to Pet Insurance Month 2012 Finalist: Heather and Sebastian

  1. A beautiful inspirational story =live experience !
    Wonderfully written !
    This is a winner because Heather and Sebastian are winners!
    pearl

  2. Tammy says:

    Heather’s story of Sebastian is so heartfelt (not that the others weren’t also) but also so beautifully written. Heather’s story is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

  3. RUTH ZEITLIN says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes. Dogs are definitely man, woman best friend.

  4. Lara says:

    I only met Sebastian Once but he was one of the sweetest and smartest dogs ever! His legacy should live on through this contest, so my vote goes to him and heather

  5. Lenny Waghelstein says:

    A great narrative. One can really empathize with Heather and her beloved dog. She should win.

  6. arleen maniff says:

    this is a TRUE LOVE story a WINNER for sure

  7. Margolin says:

    As a New Yorker, I am in awe of the life that Heather gave Sebastian and Sebastian gave Heather. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere and the two of them made it because of love, because of each other. The streets of New York are tough to navigate but somehow they both managed, in spite of the sidewalk smorgasbord that Sebastian attempted to partake in and in spite of Heather’s original desire to be a couch potato, they got each other up and out into the world. Every dog needs a human but in this case, this human, Heather, needed a dog more than most. It is obvious that they would do anything for each other and that their gratefulness was mutual. Sebastian never failed Heather and Heather never failed him. You can tell from the story that intuitively Sebastian knew what Heather needed and provided it. Heather repaid him handsomely as a devoted dog owner would. Very few pups in Manhattan get to ride around in a taxi! While Sebastian rode in style, he saw to it that Heather racked up many healthy needed miles on foot and rollerblade! If ever there was an equal relationship between paw and pal, it was that of Sebastian and Heather. This story is sad yet inspiring – a tail of true connection and dedication on both their parts. Heather and Sebastian were lucky in love, with each other and with their life together. I know there is a dog heaven that welcomed Sebastian with open paws just as I know Sebastian is looking down upon Heather, caring for her even at a distance. On top of all the good that Sebastian did for Heather and Heather for Sebastian, this story is well written, so well written in fact that the reader can see the tear filled eyes with which Heather viewed the keyboard yet in her grief she still managed to write a lovely tribute to her Sebastian and Trupanion in the process. Truth, love and devotion pour from each sentence. Enjoy dog heaven Sebastian, where chicken bones don’t cause harm, taxis are waiting for every dog on every corner and there is not even one, “No dogs allowed” sign. Bravo Heather for all you did for your Sebastian.

  8. Ida Miller says:

    Heather, your writing and description of life with Sebastian brought tears to my eyes. You have always loved and cared for your pet with affection. The memories you will carry are wonderful. When I heard about Sebastian dying,my heart broke for you. You are so correct in that losing Sebastian was like losing a family member. He was your true companion and love and you expressed your feelings beautifully.
    With love always,
    Ida

  9. Hairless Cat says:

    Hi Stacy,

    As much as I like the other stories, and those are all great, I’d have to agree with the other commenters about this story. It has my vote as the winner.

    The writing is effective at invoking images and it’s as though I was right there.

    Interesting how pets help you get back in touch with the things you lost touch with such as simple pleasures and noticing the beauty of nature. Also valuable is that pets teach us how to love.

    Glad Trupanion was there for Heather and Sebastion. Nothing is worse than being without pet insurance and worrying about being able to afford a vet procedure needed to help your best friend.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

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