Once I heard a story on NPR about a guy who tried to make a TV channel that was all puppies, all the time. It was called The Puppy Channel. There was a theme song, which was basically this old dude singing "Puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies PUPPIES!" That theme song pretty much describes my thought process for about a month now. My brain has been receiving The Puppy Channel.
I'm a little embarrassed by this condition, because I used to hate it when people talked about their pets all the time. And me being me, I probably did not do a good job concealing how uninterested I was in what those people were saying. And now, with The Puppy Channel in my head, I'm beginning to annoy myself. I'm also annoying other people, some of which probably do not care about Remix but who do a better job at responding appropriately than I ever did.
If you ever told me about your pet and I was a jerk, I am sorry. You were just trying to share about something that makes you happy, and sharing ourselves with others is the fabric of our lives, or something like that.
I know (hope?) that this is a temporary affliction. While I may be permanently a dog person, after a while I will get used to the fact that there is a dog in my house and she does adorable things. And when people tell me about their pets, I will be able to be enthusiastic with them. I may still be bored if they go on for too long, but that's only because I know that their pet is not as awesome as mine. But I will listen nicely anyway, because at the end, I will have earned my right to whip out my phone and show them pictures of Remix. Here she is smiling, and here she is sitting, and this is her digging, and...
I have tried not to talk too much about the dog here, either, because I know that some of you really, really, really don't care. Today, I am going to talk about something that is Remix-related, but not cute dog stories. It's about something even more thrilling: INSURANCE!
Back when we were first considering our dog options, I found out that various forces in the universe discourage owning certain types of dogs. These forces include city councils, apartment managers, and insurance companies. Did you know that no one who lives in Topeka, Kansas is allowed to own a pitbull? I formerly had a good opinion of the Kansas state capital, but now? Screw you, Topeka.
Let's talk a little bit about the ridiculousness of breed-specific restrictions. Aside from the idea of punishing all dogs for the actions of some, it's really hard to know what breed a dog is. Most dogs do not have papers that trace their lineage. If you get a dog from a shelter, then there really is no way of telling what all went into it. You can look at the dog and guess, but even then, it's really a crapshoot. These rules are practically unenforceable. The Topeka police might bang on your dog to collect your dog, but you can just say, "This dog? It's some kind of lab. Also, aren't there some actual crimes you could be investigating rather than harassing animals that haven't hurt anybody?" Are they going to do a DNA test on every single dog?
One of the reasons that we picked out this specific dog was that the shelter listed her as a "lab mix." Frankly, we are not sure why. Anyone else that has looked at her has immediately said something along the lines of "Got a little bit of pit in her, eh?" The only thing we can figure is that whoever processes the dogs goes by a picture, not by looking at the actual animal. The picture that was taken of her was not particularly flattering and was at an odd angle. Really, all you could tell from that photo was that she was mostly black, therefore, she was a lab mix. I knew that my insurance company had some restrictive policies regarding pitbulls, but I figured that we could always just send them the info sheet from the shelter, which had a blurry picture and the words "lab mix." Maybe we should have named her "Plausible Deniability."
But something about that didn't sit right with me, even though I know that a lot of people choose that route. I think that it is stupid and unfair that insurance companies have rules about specific breeds. But lying to my insurance company wasn't really standing up for the breed; it was just lying. The system can be stupid, but going outside the system doesn't really change it. I wanted to say to the world that I was not scared to live with a pitbull. The only way any of this would come into play was if she bit somebody, which I don't expect. Remix is exceedingly friendly to people; in fact, I worry that if there were an intruder in the house, she would attempt to snuggle him rather than chew on his face. She does not warm up to every single person, though, and in those cases, she tends to just back away. However, I am one of those people who believes deep down in the very bottom of me that not preparing for a worst-case scenario is the best way to make it happen to you.
So I started shopping around for insurance. You probably already know that it's a completely joyless exercise. I found a list of nationally rated insurance companies, and I basically emailed every single one of them with a single question: Do you offer insurance to households with pitbulls?
Several of them responded with a short and sweet "No." Some of them will give you a policy with an exclusion on the dog, meaning if someone gets bitten, they're not going to pay for it. Some of them want you to take the dog to obedience training. Still others had a long list of questions about fences and children under twelve and the dog's personal history. One ambitious insurance agent, who sells for a company that says "Absolutely not" with regards to dangerous breeds, tried to get me to play the lab mix card. Sir, if I wanted to lie to an insurance company, I'd just lie to the one I have already. It's cheaper anyway.
I got really, really frustrated by the whole thing. I felt like I was being punished for doing the right thing. I had rescued a dog that did not have a home, one who would forever be associated with eating babies because of its breed. And I was trying to play by the rules and be honest with my insurance company. It was causing me nothing but grief. Does everyone else just lie about their dogs? What do Jon Stewart and Jessica Alba do?
And then finally, FINALLY, State Farm responded to my desparate query with two questions: 1.) Has the dog ever attacked anyone? and 2.) Has the dog been trained to fight? In terms of Remix, I can answer 1.) No, and 2.) She has been trained to sit, fetch, and snuggle.
The really happy ending here? I'm going to save $208.46 a year. HA!