By: Dr. Jack Stephens, DVM
Pets Best Insurance President
For years I have been promoting the power of pets for human health and well being. Although I knew even as a child that pets had a strong effect on our feelings, it was not until 1979 that I witnessed it first-hand as I watched a sick child interact with a therapy dog.
Over 30 years later my wife and I still believe in the “power of pets” as depicted by the photo of my wife and her mini-horse “Dandy,” visiting challenged students at a local high school.
My wife, her therapy dogs and Dandy visit classes on a regular basis and practice the power of pets as they interact with the children.
This type of interaction makes us feel good about ourselves as it floods our bodies with feel-good hormones, lowers our blood pressure and improves nerve conduction in our brains by increasing neurotransmitters.
If we feel good about ourselves, we are able to achieve more and relate better to others. Teachers who have experienced student’s interactions with animals often say it builds self-esteem and that it’s a great social lubricant in getting them engaged with others—simply put, “pets break the ice and get us talking to one another.”
Even more remarkable is how pets can positively impact reading skills in young children. At a local school, children in the first grade who could not read and certainly could not write are transformed when they know the mini-horse will be coming to their class. Something magical happens when the students are assigned to write a story and then read it to the animal. A student with a severe reading impairment is often able to read their story to the mini-horse near flawlessly when prior they struggled and stumbled over the words.
Perhaps the students’ reading abilities are higher with the animal present because the students have a non-judgmental listener. The animal’s presence alone seems to remove all peer or public pressure allowing the students to achieve something they could not do in a normal classroom setting. This achievement, as reported by first grade teachers, seems to give students confidence in their reading and writing abilities.
The lesson: Never underestimate the power of pets to provide a positive impact on a human’s life and well-being.
By: Drew Mayes
Growing up as an American male you learn that bigger is better. When we’re kids, we want a bigger piece of cake than our buddy (even if it’s his birthday party). And by the time high school rolls around, we want a big truck and even bigger muscles. That’s what we believe will get us the girl.
When it’s time to go to college most of us will take out a big student loan hoping it will lead to a big job, all-the-while doing anything we can to appear like we’re the big man on campus.
You’d think by the time adulthood rolled around we would’ve learned our lesson, but we haven’t.
Instead, we prove our manliness by buying a big house we can barely pay for, a big SUV with a gas tank we can’t fill, and a big barking dog to complete the modern day Marlboro Man myth. If that doesn’t make us feel like manly men than what will?
What they don’t tell you as a kid, is that the aforementioned usually results in nothing more than big debt, big veterinarian bills and big dog poop in the yard. So the question still remains – is bigger better or not? Now I’m confused.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think everything has to be big to be manly. Take a waistline for example. I’d take a small one over a big belly any day (and so would my fiancée).
So what about when it comes to dogs? Do the same rules apply to mini breeds versus larger pooches? I tend to think so, although before I moved in with my girl and her miniature Chihuahua I probably would’ve been singing a different tune— because a dog that could fit in your glove compartment isn’t a real dog… is it?
Take a stroll through any large dog owner’s backyard (be careful where you step) and invariably two things will happen: one, you’ll get a whiff of something rank and two, you can expect to kiss those expensive-man-shoes goodbye.
Little dogs leave little messes while big dogs come with big smells and even bigger messes… and to be honest, no one looks manly when they’re picking up poop. Even if it is big.
Bigger dogs also come with a big expenses, like food. It’s a lot cheaper to feed a 3-pound miniature Chihuahua than it is to feed a hungry Doberman. Paying $35 for a 40-pound bag of dog food isn’t as cool or easy as only spending $5 a month on a 3-pound bag of dog food that fits neatly in your manly eco bag with the rest of the groceries.
So what about when it comes to guard dogs—are bigger dogs better protectors? While Bullmastiff and Pit Bulls sure do look scary, I don’t think they’re any more likely to alert you to a potential intruder than the vicious bark of a Weiner dog. Would a Scottish Terrier put its life on the line for its beloved master the same way a Rottweiler would? I think so.
With superior cleanliness, greater affordability and solid protection, (not to mention they’re darn cute) I’m proud to say choosing a small dog was a smarter choice for me. Even if my fiancée did help me come around to the idea.
That being said, the only time I think a bigger dog is better is when it’s at the ball park with extra mustard and relish, paired with my favorite manly beer.
By: H. R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
Pet owner Julie Fukuhara, of Palo, Alto, CA, said her dog Turbo (a “Puggle” who is a crossbreed between a Pug and a Beagle) began acting strangely one evening.
“He was walking a little wobbly,” she said of her floppy-eared-pooch.
Although she was initially worried about Turbo, Julie knew if she had to take him to the vet, she wouldn’t have to agonize over finances because she had insurance for Turbo through Pets Best Insurance.
When the dog’s condition worsened, Julie decided it was time to take him to the doctor.
“He was walking really gingerly and tenderly,” she said of her usually-energetic dog.
After leaving the pet hospital with a clean bill of health, both owner and veterinarian scratching their heads, Julie took her beloved Turbo home to rest.
“By the time we got home, he had completely lost the use of his legs . . . in the morning he couldn’t move at all, so the doctor told me to go to the surgery center.”
An MRI later revealed Turbo had ruptured a disk and that fluid had begun to collect around his spine. Doctors recommended the dog go into surgery immediately.
“I said ‘go ahead—do it,’” Fukuhara said of the costly procedure.
Even when the pet hospital gave her a jaw-dropping estimate of the cost beforehand, she had no reservations when it came to saving the life of her dog.
“I remember . . . in the back of my mind I was really relieved I had the insurance,” she said. “I submitted the claim and they sent me a check right away.”
Julie said she received a reimbursement check from Pets Best Insurance before her credit card statement (which she used to cover the expense) even arrived in her mailbox.
“This would have been a really bad time to deal with more expense,” Julie said. “If we didn’t have insurance I would be so upset. I feel so lucky that I made that decision when he was a puppy.”
By: H. R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
Is Fluffy biting your fiancé’s pant legs again? Does Priscilla persistently hiss when your boyfriend or girlfriend walks through the door? It’s not unusual for pets to take a dislike to someone new in your life— it’s not unusual either for that new someone to dislike your pet.
But if you’re dead-set on keeping them both around for the long haul, it’s important that they bury the hatchet (or bone) and reach a common ground. Below you’ll find five tips on how to unite a once-sullen duo.
1. Eliminate jealousy: Both your pet and your significant other want your undivided attention. Make sure that you are giving them equal amounts of time and affection. Try going on an outing where you can all be involved, such as a walk, or playing Frisbee in the park. This will be good for your dog’s health as well as a good way for the two to bond.
2. Have your significant other help care for your pet: After awhile your pet will see them as a provider instead of as a threat. Ask your partner to help walk or feed your pet. Having your new love give the pup or kitty a treat once in awhile won’t hurt either.
3. Change the language: If you become very serious with your significant other or are cohabitating refer to your pet as “our dog,” instead of “my dog.” This will prompt your significant other to take more of a sense of ownership towards the pet— something the animal will no doubt sense as well.
4. Allow them to bond one-on-one: Need to run to the store? Have a weekend trip planned to Vegas? Ask your significant other to stay at home with the pet. Although your pet might not like it at first, this will allow your two loves to interact without you around. Pets are generally very protective of their owners. If you can get the two to engage while you’re not present, it will fortify the bond between them.
5. Ensure your significant other is treating your pet kindly: If all else fails, take a closer look at the person you’re with. Perhaps they’ve never had a pet before and don’t quite know how to treat Max. Patiently teach them how to speak to and interact with your pet. After awhile, your pet will begin to trust the new person and allow them to become part of your pack.
By: Chryssa Rich
Pets Best Insurance Marketing Associate
Where can you order cable TV, buy a rubber broom, take your picture with a tortoise, adopt a puppy and enjoy a mango Italian ice? That would be the Family Fun Pet Expo, held in Boise, Idaho last weekend.
For the team at Pets Best Insurance, it was the first time we’d participated in this event. During set-up we had a good laugh after noticing we’d been placed across the aisle from a pet crematorium company. We thought that might urge people to consider pet insurance more carefully!
Chilly weekend weather pushed attendance to more than 6,000, and each visitor received a goodie bag upon entrance as well as all kinds of free samples, treats and chances to win great prizes. By the end of the weekend, we’d had the opportunity to educate hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pet owners on the benefits of pet insurance, and everyone loved the local gift certificates we gave away.
In addition to the dozens of super cute animals who strolled by our booth, we enjoyed checking out the adorable baby goats, donkeys and chickens in the petting zoo, as well as snakes, lizards and other reptiles at another booth. A local radio station held a cutest pet contest, complete with Top 40 music and a dog show-type arena where they could strut their fluffy stuff.
Some of the funnier sights included a roly-poly gang of Pugs, a Chihuahua in a hot pink bikini, and a little kid eyeing our bowl of dog treats with his mouth watering. I do have to wonder how many children unwittingly ate pet food over the two-day-span – some of the gourmet dog and cat snacks looked downright delicious (and I’m a vegetarian).
Most cities have pet expos at least once a year, so check your local events calendars and try to visit one this summer. Even if you’re not looking to adopt a new furry friend, you’ll find lots of entertainment and freebies for the pets you already have.
After a weekend of pet expo fun, my family decided to add another to their pack. My sister-in-law’s parents adopted an adorable Black Lab/Terrier mix, Birdie, who has a cute scruffy beard and webbed toes. It took them years to heal after the loss of their last dog, but the weekend event prompted them to become dog owners once again.