Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

When we adopted Chance from the Dachshund Rescue of North America, he was microchipped by Home Again.  Upon the transfer of ownership, I contacted Home Again to update his records.  Apparently, Home Again is affiliated with Pet First insurance.  At the end of my call, the lady asked if I wanted to learn more about their pet insurance.  I figured, why not?  Thirty minutes later, I was suckered into a plan by a very insistent sales person.  It was about $6 a month per pet for accident insurance only, and you can cancel at any time.  I really didn’t want to do it, but you know how salespeople are.

I got the documents emailed to me immediately and sent them off to my coworker whose girlfriend is a vet.  The next day, I had the policy printed out on my desk with one page full of handwritten scribbles with lots of dark circles, stars and exclamation points.  Uh-oh.  Here’s what this policy does not cover:

(Two pages with 22 points listed in the Exclusions and Limitations of the contract, meaning, this policy won’t pay for costs you incur for…)

-elective procedures, e.g. getting their teeth cleaned once per year.  Dachshunds need this done because of how their teeth are laid out…or, nail trims

– expression or removal of anal glands.  Expression is something that needs to be done on occasion and is even part of the grooming service at Petsmart!

– prescription diets

– mange, which can be caused by mites.  Also, does not cover flea/tick infestations.

– illnesses not directly caused by an injury.  So, that’s pretty much anything hereditary or a result of diet, e.g. liver or heart disease, heart failure, cancer, allergies, diabetes, ear infectinos, diarrhea, etc.

– ACL repair

– IVDD, which is the back injury most common with Dachshunds, which usually happens accidentally

– Luxating patella, common in small breed dogs

– Internal parasites (e.g. worms)

Seemed like anything that would happen to the dog outside of the ordinary would probably be fatal, so you wouldn’t need this type of accident policy for your pet.  Even though it’s just $6/month per dog, doing the calculation over time, it came out to $1000 less than the cost of the back surgery.  I figure, let’s take our chances, and put that money in to a dog fund just in case.  The full coverage policy is about $40/month which is crazy.

I cancelled the policy.  When I got back to work, I was discussing it with my coworker, and he said, “Yeah, it was pretty much worthless…”  So, we tried to come up with scenarios that it might apply to.  I suggested alien abduction, and conditions arising from the dog mutating into two separate dogs.  Cloning, essentially.

Check out this clause in the policy:

…will not provide payment for expenses related to accidental injury to or illness of “your pet” caused directly or indirectly by….enemy attack by armed forces w/or w/out a state of war, insurrection, rebellion, revolution, invasion, civil war, illegal acts, usurped power, nuclear incident, bio/chem/radiation contamination or exposure; other than acts of terrorism…


The bottom line?  Read the fine print.  Establish a pet fund.  Be aware of the cost of procedures your dog needs on a regular basis, and those that it might need due to hereditary conditions.

Categories: Uncategorized

Taxes and Identity Theft

Mid last week I received a very troubling call from my sister (V) regarding a strange letter from the IRS that eventually made it to her regarding investigation on her double (!) submission of taxes containing many discrepancies.  The letter was initially addressed to V in another borough (!!) but with the second submission, the address contained the correct one.  After many frustrating calls starting with local taxation working her way up to federal taxation (IRS) which took an entire day, she found out that she was a victim of identity theft and tax fraud.  Her submission was being held for investigation.  She would not be held responsible for the prior submission and would eventually get her refund in the future.

Of course, this generated a lot of questions of how and when.  The why is obvious.  How did they get her information?  Was her W-2 intercepted?  Did it go to her prior address and that’s where it got lifted?  But, she changed her address with work and moved many months ago.  When did this happen?  Did they get paid out?  She learned from the IRS that all that’s needed to submit taxes is the SSN.  Her emotions ranged from I-want-to-kill-someone to why-me and wanting to cry then just pure rage then helplessness.  What are you supposed to do if your identity is stolen?  Seems like your SSN is the key to everything.  If this is the case, why does it need to be put on forms in doctor’s offices, school forms and whatnot.  How can you trust that they will dispose of this information responsibly, or that their information systems are secure enough to prevent hacking?  Why do we receive mail with our SSN printed on it that can be easily intercepted?  In NYC, a place that is so saturated with people that they literally live on top of each other in impossibly tall high rises, not everyone has a lock box for mail.  Even so, an old tenant could have copied the key.  Using mail is not necessarily a secure way to transfer this information.  Why is signature required on high value deliveries but not valuable personal information?  And don’t even get me started on how personal information is completely undervalued with geographical tagging of photos, locator apps, and people voluntarily putting out loads of information through social media sites.  That’s a topic for another day.

Her taxes were filed as quickly as possible, and the initial submission was already paid out.  During that time, her address was changed for a period of SIX days.  Why did this not raise a flag?  Where is her SSN now?  All very scary things.

The moral of this story is this:  PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION.  Sharing your SSN is not compulsory, so stop giving it out.  Information is too readily available.  Who knows?  Her information could now be posted on a secure message board used by those crooks.  I never thought something like this would happen to someone I knew, but it hits very close to home when it’s an immediate family member.

Tick Time

Spring came early this year.  I know everybody is excited, but I’m not.  The high tree pollen count ruins it for me.  You know who else loves being outside?  Chance-dog.  His favorite thing is to roll out on the lawn and pass out.  I can see part of the yard when I’m doing dishes, and sometimes when I see him laying for a while, it’s hard to tell whether he is still breathing (yes, a little psycho I know…) then I crack open the patio door to check on him.

Well, it was yet another one of those gorgeous mid-week days.  I really wanted to walk the dogs, but my car is green with pollen so no unnecessary time outdoors for me.  I went to Giant to pick up some things for dinner and threw two bully sticks in the cart.  I felt bad.  If they can’t enjoy the weather, then at least let them enjoy bull wee-wee.  (Ew.)

Dogs were excited, grabbed theirs.  Ran off.  I start prepping dinner.  Chance slinks back into the kitchen with no bully stick.  I pop my head into the living room and Toby is guarding both of the bully sticks on the couch.  I was in the process of knotting up the plastic grocery bags for reuse and had one half knotted in my hand.  Said, “NO” and smacked him with it in the snout.  Luckily, he had no idea what the bag was and backed off scared.  Luckier for ME, I could use the bag to pick up the now stinky and soggy bully stick.  Gave it back to Chance who did not care at all.  Eventually, Chance had a bit, but Toby did not.  I let Chance out in the yard to enjoy chewing on it in the 80 degree gorgeous weather.

Craig gets home and lets Chance back in.  I’m puttering around somewhere else in the house.

Daily happy reunion!

Always tons of activity upon returning home from work.  The dogs really kick it up a notch.  Then, I hear “HEY!  I think Chance has a tick.  Come look!”

Uh-oh.  “Are you SURE it’s a tick??”

Yep, I'm sure.

“Unless Chance has a ninth nipple, then yeah, it’s a tick.”

The answers to everything can be found on You Tube.  After three minutes, I was an expert in tick pulling.  Not my favorite thing to do, but it must be done.  Needle nose tweezers, glass dish, matches, rubbing alcohol, and just a touch of neosporin on the wound and we were done.  The matches were lit to burn the tick in the glass dish.  Apparently the vaseline, match and other methods for tick pulling aren’t effective.  Get close to the head of the tick as possible, and pull perpendicular to the dog’s skin.  Essentially, pull it straight up from where it landed.

And this is where I was surprised.

It was DIFFICULT to get the tick out.  Even though the gross body and legs were still outside, the head was definitely poked into Chance.  I got close, and pulled up, and with the tick’s head still attached to the dog, the skin looked like it was pinched to make a tent.  It’s totally disgusting to think about how the tick gets rooted, but after a couple of tries, he got toasted then flushed.  Chance got a treat.  I got grossed out and paranoid.

Dogs are now treated with Advantix II.  We meant to do it, and now it is finally done.  My concern is how we treat the yard though.  A couple weeks prior, Craig was petting Chance after he went out, and saw a tick walking on his muzzle.  That quickly got lifted off and discarded.  The dogs can bring ticks into the house.  They come in from outside, jump up on the couch or run across the carpet, and that’s shared space!  I am completely paranoid now about some tick digging into my armpit after it crawls on me from the sofa.  Not cool.

Am I being paranoid here?  Lyme disease has no cure…

DC Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon 2012

I signed up for the DC Rock n’ Roll half because it was the first year that we’ve had a RnR race in the District.  This half/full happens every year, but this time it was run by the RnR folks.  They were running a promotion one day where entry fee was only $55 which is very cheap for a half/full, so I convinced a group of friends to sign up.  Our training period was short, so building on a so-so mileage base led us to long runs each weekend, one mile longer than the previous, working our way up to 13 miles on the actual DAY of the race.  The weekly drill was a short, fast run plus one run half the distance of the long run at a moderate pace.  I think that’s the bare minimum when it comes to training, but we didn’t mind.  We were doing this for fun!

Information was disseminated very slowly from the race organizers.  Basically, you had to keep checking the website.  It wasn’t made known that a friend could pick up your race packet with a signed waiver and copy of your photo ID, so we all made plans to trek into DC from the outer suburbs where the metro does not reach, making it a royal pain in the rear.  Eventually, a pdf was posted to the site with the two main points being that a) parking was available, and b) packet pick-ups were possible for others, but you got one freebie for a friend, and could pick up two more at the cost of $20 per packet; a “convenience” charge.  I’ve never heard of this and chalked it up to a greedy racket.

My sister and her best friend came to DC from NY and picked up our packets.  Said packet pick up was organized, divided up by bib number ranges, but the expo was nuts.  The expo is open to the public and a lot of vendors liquidate their running merchandise there.

The next morning, we decided last minute to drive in.  It was incredibly early so we got there without incident.  In DC, anything can happen.  Last December for the Hot Chocolate 10k at the National Harbor, there was an accident preventing people from making it to the race on time.  That was a debacle.  National Harbor is not easily accessible by metro.  Lots of people ran that race for the “free” jacket.  You know what’s ironic?  That jacket was worn by several on the RnR run, and tossed by those folks.  Apparently, it didn’t breathe.  (FYI- entry fee was $65 for that race.)

Our coworker was attempting to PR; easy since it was his first half, and was psycho about getting there and took the first metro which left at 6am.  He missed that one, but my friend did not.  She said it was running about 15-20 minutes late.  Coworker got on one which broke down.  He got to the metro stop at exactly 8am which is when the race started.  Luckily, the metro stop was not far from the corrals.

Typical DC.

There were lots of people at the race which we all expected.  It’s always a fun crowd, and people came in from all over.  The race coincided with cherry blossom bloom due to the strange early spring we’re having.  The crowd was festive with green socks, green shirts, green tutus, beaded necklaces, hats, headbands, you name it.  Some were even in full costumes, including that weird skintight body suit.  I don’t get it.

We were in corral 24 which was close to the end.  The tail “running” end of the line is for finish times between 2:30 and 2:45.  I was setting a 5.5mph pace for our group which is on the conservative side, but given that my longest run was two weeks ago (11 treadmill miles) and I had a shin injury after that, I’ve been off my feet for two weeks.  I was worried.

My sister dropped out two weeks ago due to knee pain.  A doctor’s visit and scans showed that she was on her way to a torn meniscus, and staying off it would prevent it from tearing requiring surgery, but it’s not the type of injury that heals itself.  She considered walking the 13.1 miles but we talked her out of it.  She would be doing that by herself, and what if it tore on the course?

At 8am, the line crept forward.  Corral 24 finally crossed the start around 8:40am.  Then, we were off running.  The start is always exciting!  We ran west weaving our way to Constitution.  It’s hard to “see” while running because either you’re plugged in rocking out, or running without music acutely focused on how your body is feeling.  It’s a constant inventory to assess whether it’s okay to proceed while avoiding injury.  My sister’s best friend F and I ran together the whole way with the following goals:  finish, be comfortable, be injury free.  It was hard to maintain 5.5mph because that’s running artificially slow.  If I run easy, my pace settles in around 6.2mph, but I’m not sure if that would hold for 13 miles.  I had never trained that far at that pace.

The monuments flew by without actually being seen, then we turned on 18th and ran entirely uphill for 4 miles.  THIS WAS NOT A FAST, FLAT COURSE.  I knew we were headed towards Adams Morgan, but you don’t notice hills when you’re driving there!  It was the steady hill where you look ahead and wonder where the end of it is.  The street bends and you think the plateau is around the bend, but it isn’t.  That really wore us out.  I didn’t research enough to see just how hilly it would be, and trained on flat trails only.  No substantial mileage on asphalt.  Big mistake.

It got hot fast.  Even the running tank and thin capris felt like too much.  Water/Gatorade stops seemed infrequent, and GU too far away at mile 9 for the unprepared.  Luckily, we weren’t.  Toward the later water stops, there were few cups out, and it seemed like they were running out of water (!).  Finally then, the downhill to the finish started, and we were spent from the neverending hill.  The scenery didn’t help either as it was mostly residential.  As a result, they couldn’t have as much entertainment along the way, so I think there were only three or four bands.  In short, it was a very boring run after we left the short stretch of Constitution Avenue.

Crossing the finish at 2:34 was a relief.  We were tired, and glad it was over.  I didn’t really have a time goal.  2:30 would have been nice, but given the lack of training and the heat, 2:34 was fine.  We got our medals, water, gatorade, bagel and the works through the chute then filtered into the afterparty which was mayhem.  It was as crowded as Warped Tour, but with only one band playing.  Switchfoot was playing “Dare You to Move” when we came out.  Reunited with our carpool and got out of there quickly.  The aches were setting in.

I probably wouldn’t run this half again due to how boring the course ended up being.

I am signed up for the MCM marathon in late October.  I thought, if it’s anything like this run, I’m out.  Checking the map, the course sticks along the Potomac river, so I think that will be better.  We are strongly considering opting out, but will train anyway and see what happens.  Probably will make the decision by August.  It may be just TOO hot to be running 15+ miles in the summer.  (Plus the fact that there’s no good reason to run 6+ miles let alone 26.2 in one day…)

Yep, fair weather runner..

For locals, it’s a convenient race, but not an exciting one.  For out-of-towners, it’s a good destination half, but obviously, the purpose is to explore DC.  It was my first DC race, and I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy running in DC as much as I thought I would.

Will run for medals.


I can be talked into almost anything, usually because I don’t like to disappoint people.  So today at work, I was bombarded with two running coworkers: one has been actively training for the upcoming Rock’n’Roll half.  The other was supposed to run a marathon in Virginia Beach but got injured.  The question was in stereo.  “Are you going to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon?  Entry opens today at 3pm.  You should do it!”  “Yeah, you should sign up.”

I’ve been training for the DC Rock’n’Roll half marathon getting in three or four runs a week.  Long run is now 11 miles and I’ve been training since December.  I’ve got some time in on my feet for sure, so with about 6 months to slowly build mileage, it seems entirely possible to comfortably finish a marathon.  I debated this in the morning because marathon training involves a lot of long runs with the worst being 20 miles in one day.  Since I’m slow, running that distance kills my entire day.  This is why most runners choose to do long runs on Sunday.

This is when I make my list of pros and cons.  It’s not a very long list.

PRO: Plenty of time to build mileage.  Starting from a good place with the half in two weeks.  Can redeem myself after the 2010 Disney Marathon disaster.

CON: Does anyone really need to run 26.2 miles in one sitting? Training takes a long time since the runs are longer in general.  I said I’d never do another marathon again with plenty of reasons why…and now I am a hypocrite!

I emailed Tina.  “Any interest in a full?”  “I could be talked into it.”  “Okay, sign us up.  3pm”

And just like that, it was done.  And 2 hours and 41 minutes later, it was REALLY done with the 30,000 marathon slots completely sold out!  According to a Marine Corps Marathon Media Alert, 15,948 runners had registered just in that first hour.  This will be interesting.  More updates as training progresses.  What I’m worried about now is my right shin acting up.  I did 11 miles on the treadmill on Sunday, and my right hip flexor and shin made themselves known.  Staying away from running until shin recovers.

In other news, this is what I spied while getting ready this morning.  Do we need to get another tent bed? I love my boys.  They are equal parts affectionate and comical.

Sharing is Caring

And, since I no longer have coherent thoughts anymore nor make good decisions (did I really sign up for another marathon?), I was tasked by my coworkers to do some research.  Here’s what it involves:

This is a work assignment. Don't judge me!

So, now I have 34 8-oz servings of margaritas to bring into work tomorrow for a Fiesta grill out.  This was decided by the lead system engineer, and of course, who doesn’t like a get-together involving food and alcohol?  I think the original notion was for me to bring the margarita machine in, but I had to test it out first.  It works well, but the throughput won’t be quick enough for the number of people.  The machine needs to rest for a while to cool off after each round to prevent burning out the motor.  If it runs a bit too long, you can smell it.  Not good.  Plus, it’s very noisy and sounds like someone is trying to vacuum up big Legos.

Speaking of kid toys, my sister and her family came to visit us for the first time as a family!  He’s kinda cute.  I think I’ll keep him.  At 5 months, he’s quite interactive, but not yet verbally so it’s kind of like a Furby.  Stimulus, simple reaction.  The most awesome thing is when he’s sleeping and either on your chest or in your arms while carrying him.  He just completely surrenders and is a sweet lump of baby.

That’s it for now.  Time for some R&R!

Gigantic Baby, a.k.a Nephew

Please Help Isis

Recently, a black and tan dapple doxie just like Chance was posted to the Dachshund Rescue North America’s website.  Craig noticed that the dog was being cared for by the same foster mom who had Chance last year.  With Chance, we knew he was rescued in Florida, needed to be neutered and had heartworm.  We were sad to hear this, but Isis has a much sadder story being a puppy mill mom, hardly cared for and a skin condition that’s caused most of her hair to fall out.  Of course, she scratches and nips at the sores.  She’s being treated right now by DRNA, and the organization truly does a great job caring for their rescues and ensuring proper placement.

We have been so thankful for DRNA’s services.  Our house is livened up with Chance and Toby’s shenanigans, and they are often quite comical.  And when they aren’t, they’re busy being cuddle bugs with us on the couch.  I love our dogs and am grateful for the happiness they’ve brought to our home.  If it were up to be, I’d adopt them all and run a dachshund retreat.  But, we can’t handle more than two dogs at the moment, especially since Toby needs quite a bit of attention.  He’s still a puppy.  Since we can’t take in any more dogs, we’ve been expressing our appreciation toward DRNA in another way- through donations.  We’ve donated to help pay (a fraction) of a back surgery, and now, for Isis.

Isis, in rehabilitation

You can find her bio here, as well as status updates and a panel to donate to help offset her medical costs.  DRNA pays for the treatment, but they are a non-profit organization dependent on donations.  Remember, every little bit counts, and no donation is too small.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Pause Button

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes the pause button gets pressed FOR you, hence the lag in adventures.  A week after my last post, I accidentally spilled 1/4 cup of water directly onto the keyboard of my laptop.  In the same instant I reacted, the computer also reacted, but not in a good way.  It doesn’t take a college degree in electrical and computer engineering to know that electronics and water do not mix.  As a result, I’ve been plunged back into the 80s with no computer, and no time to chat/use my cellphone.

(To tell you the truth, it’s kind of nice.)

In the interim, I did something nice for myself and joined a gym.  Mixed feelings on that one, but more on it later.  My old Xterra was sold.  We went back to NY for a lunch celebration hosted by my parents in honor of us.  I rescued a dog from getting hit by a car on a main road in our neighborhood and returned her.  (Again, more on that later…)  Work has been picking up at a crazy pace, and I still don’t feel like I know enough to be useful yet.  Regardless, my part is due soon, and I’m in the same boat as the rest of my team.  Went in this weekend for a little bit, and am dreading going in this morning.  When it’s crunch time, it’s hard to balance my needs against the demands of work.

Aside from work deadlines, the only other marker on the calendar is the DC Rock and Roll Half which is on St. Patrick’s Day.  Haven’t been getting in nearly enough miles during the week, but we have been good about the long runs.  As a result, the ten miles on Saturday were rough.  Just didn’t have any running mojo, especially with NOT paying my dues during the week.  My right arch feels bruised so I’m wondering if it is time for new sneakers, although I think it’s more likely caused by not having enough base mileage.

The pause button should be a tactic for one to temporarily take a breather from the craziness of their life.  For me, I’m starting to associate it almost like blacking out.  Like, I KNOW something happened between this date and that one, but GOOD LORD, how is it already late February?  I think I’m just getting old…

At least I was somewhat productive and was able to squeak out a quick comic.  Stress is an amazing motivator.  (BTW- I did not draw the impossible maze..just the stuff around it.)

Categories: Uncategorized