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.
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