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You Never Know What’s Around the Corner!

Winning her bid for an AKC Pet Healthcare Plan at the December 2008 Live Auction — in honor of the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) — proved to be a lucky break for Marti Simons. Little did Marti know then that within six months, she would be very grateful for her AKC pet health insurance. Her young Bernese Mountain dog, Purna, suddenly collapsed one day and was diagnosed with septic shock and bronchopneumonia, coming close to death.

But let’s go back to December 2008. Marti was at the annual AKC CHF Gala by the Bay event in Long Beach, CA, held each year to raise funds for canine health research. This particular event included both a live auction and a silent auction, with an amazing array of wonderful items donated by individuals and companies whose generosity raised many thousands of dollars.

Marti had gone with a group of friends from the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America who were there to accept the annual CHF President’s Award for Fundraising. This honor is bestowed on an individual or club making an extraordinary contribution to the mission of CHF. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America has been a model in demonstrating a commitment to conquering the diseases that threaten our dogs. Always generous contributors, the Bernese community made a particularly significant effort in 2008, raising nearly $80,000 for health research for this breed.

“I had insurance for my four-year-old Bernese, Maverick, and had been meaning to insure our new puppy, Purna. She replaced another dog, Anna, whom we had lost tragically to a fatal case of bloat. So when the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan came up for auction, it motivated me to make a bid,” explained Marti.

Marti’s bid won her the high-end pet healthcare protection of a ‘Wellness’ Plan donated by the provider, PetPartners, Inc, exclusive provider of the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan.

Marti and her family enjoy lots of activities with their Bernese Mountain dogs together, showing and participating in Obedience and Agility. Her twin daughters, fourteen, have shown their own dogs as ‘Junior Handlers’ in conformation. The family and their dogs have traveled extensively across the U.S., driving from Orange County, CA to Kentucky one year and to Rhode Island another time for the Bernese National Specialty show.

It was after a show in Portland, Oregon last April that one of their dogs, Fiona, developed a cough. “Our veterinarian attributed this to kennel cough. Fiona was sick for awhile and showed it. She got over it with no problems though.”

Then Purna, still a young dog, developed a cough. “I naturally thought it was the same thing on the first day she coughed,” recalled Marti. “Purna didn’t act sick, and she continued to play and bounce around and bring me toys for tug-of-war — as a puppy she was like the ‘Energizer Bunny’!

Suddenly, within less than 24 hours, the situation changed dramatically for Purna. “She got me up at four o’clock the next morning to go outside. Since she was still quite young, she wasn’t always able to last all night, so I thought nothing of this. Then without warning, she collapsed outside in the yard and was having real problems with her breathing. I was very worried, so I pulled on some sweats and drove her immediately to the emergency veterinarian.”

The emergency animal hospital found that Purna had a high fever and the beginning stages of pneumonia but sent her home with a prescription.

However, at seven o’clock that same morning, Purna collapsed again. This time Marti called her regular veterinarian who told her to bring Purna to him immediately. He had experienced a similar case with his own puppy and suspected it could be serious.

Marti continued, “It was so scary, she almost died. My veterinarian put Purna on oxygen and gave her some heavy drugs. She had fluid on her lungs and had gone from a simple cough, like Fiona’s, to suddenly having major breathing problems in less than 24 hours.”

The veterinarian thought that Purna’s less advanced immune system made her more prone to the ‘doggie flu’ than their older dog, Fiona. Purna stayed at the clinic for awhile and then went home, still attached to an IV drip. With her prescription and lots of loving care, Purna recovered from her case of septic shock and bronchopneumonia.

Today, Purna is doing fine and has begun Agility training. Looking back on her winning bid at last year’s Gala, Marti is delighted that she won the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan. It proved to be great decision that more than paid for itself; with Purna’s illness alone, her AKC plan reimbursed Marti with $1,702 for visits to both the emergency clinic and to Marti’s regular veterinarian, including treatments. Marti’s plan will also reimburse her for the majority of Purna’s preventive care costs this year, such as her annual physical exam, shots, flea/tick control, heartworm control, etc.

But that’s not the only heartwarming side of this story. Earlier in 2009, Marti’s employer of 25 years was acquired by a larger one. As often happens, layoffs followed the inevitable restructuring and Marti lost her job as a commercial insurance broker.

So, the AKC Plan became even more important in helping manage the family’s finances this year. Not that Marti is sitting back feeling sorry for herself. In addition to her busy family schedule and training her dogs, she also volunteered at the December 2009 AKC/Eukanuba Agility event in Long Beach, CA. Isn’t it just great when nice things happen to nice people?

For more information on how the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan* can help you protect your pet in case of unexpected accidents or illnesses visit or call 1-866-725-2747. Plans include up to $13,000 a year ($5,000 per incident), with options for additional coverage for preventive care costs.

For more information on the many different research projects of canine diseases funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and how you can help if you wish to become a donor, visit Over $24 million has been granted by CHF to date to support ground-breaking research into many diseases, both canine and human.

*See terms and conditions for a full description. Rates are subject to change. Coverage is offered by PetPartners, Inc. to all U.S. residents and is underwritten by Markel Insurance Company, 4600 Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060, rated A ‘Excellent’ by A.M. Best

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