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Tag: price

Best available fare? For this Coast Guard officer’s mastiff, it’s $31,000

A U.S. Coast Guard officer serving in Japan says the best rate she can get to fly her English mastiff back to the states is $31,000.

Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer McKay, a liaison to U.S. Forces Japan at Yokota in western Tokyo, paid $3,200 to bring her 220-pound dog, George Jefferson, to Japan two years ago.

But with United Airlines having temporarily suspended shipping dogs in the cargo hold, McKay has few other options — and they are all expensive, Stars and Stripes reported.

United suspended its pet transportation service last week after three dogs were sent to incorrect destinations — including one dog that was sent to Japan instead of Kansas. A fourth dog died after its owner placed it in an overhead bin during a flight from Houston to New York.

While the airline is honoring existing reservations it is not accepting new ones for dogs traveling as cargo. The suspension does not effect dogs traveling in the cabin.

“I am a single-parent service member just trying to get home to the U.S. with my dog and my son,” said McKay, who’s headed for a new assignment in Washington, D.C., in June. She had hoped to fly to Texas with her dog and pick up a car she stored there.

She’s hoping United reinstates its travel program as scheduled, on May 1.

“The alternative options to do this are financially unreasonable — but my dog is my family and I won’t leave him behind,” she said.

The suspension has also stranded military-owned pets on Guam, as United was the only airline operating in the U.S. territory that permitted pet transport to and from the mainland.

Other options exist for shipping pets from Japan — but when it comes to large animals they can be expensive and inconvenient. Only United and All Nippon Airways offer direct flights from Tokyo to Houston, McKay said.

ANA told McKay that because of the size of George’s carrier, they would have to charge extra — about $31,000.

An Air Mobility Command flight — the usual way for military pet owners to transport their animals to and from Japan — isn’t an option. The command sets a maximum weight of 150 pounds, including the pet’s carrier, and only travels to Seattle.

Many airlines, such as Japan Airlines, Delta, American, Alaskan, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Singapore Air and Air Canada, refuse to carry English mastiffs outright, McKay said.

California man seeks vet insurance — for self

You can’t blame Hal Ziegler for trying — what was good enough for his golden doodle, he figured, would be good enough for him.

Facing exorbitant increases in his health insurance payments, Zeigler, a self-employed consultant, called up the pet insurance company that covers his dog Charlie — for $37 a month — and asked if he could get a policy for himself.

“They laughed,” Ziegler, 47, of Mission Viejo., told the Orange County Register. “I knew what the answer would be but in reality I wasn’t joking.”

Ziegler noted that his dog, Charlie, has seen his claims paid promptly and without dispute by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) , including those for vaccinations and a trip to the veterinary emergency room.

Ziegler’s dealings with Anthem Blue Cross haven’t been nearly as simple and swift, and the price of his coverage keeps going up — a 34 percent jump this year alone.

And even then, it sounds like he lacks coverage for a major medical event. “One one of our greatest fears is to be in a catastrophic medical emergency,” he said.

Being without health insurance myself I can relate to the problem faced by Ziegler and so many others who have been priced out of the health market. So I’ll share my secret plan, if a major medical problem comes my way: I’m going to go to the vet, get him to give me a bacon-flavored treat, scratch me behind the ears and gently put me down.

Only 1 in 6 distinguish dog from human food

The American Association of Wine Economists has reported that a blind taste test it conducted shows most people can’t distinguish a certain brand of high-end, canned organic dog food from human food.

So the good news is, should the recession force you to turn to dog food, it will be both palatable and good for you. The bad news is you probably won’t be able to afford it, either.

Researchers provided 18 volunteers five food samples to try in a blind taste test – all blended to the same pate-like consistency and topped with parsley: duck liver mousse, pork liver pate, liverwurst, spam and Newman’s Own-brand organic Canned Turkey & Chicken Formula (for Puppies/Active Dogs).

Only three testers were able to identify the canine food. Eight participants believed the liverwurst was the dog food, and four picked Spam as the culprit. Two people identified the pork liver pate as dog food, and one identified the duck liver mousse as dog food.

Given what’s gone on with dog food in recent years, the test results aren’t really that surprising. In the last few years, organic dog food made with human-grade free range meat and fresh vegetables has jumped in popularity, and some dog food companies have humans taste test them. There are lots of dog foods on the market that are probably better for you than some of the stuff on the human food shelves. Paul Newman himself took a big bite of his dog food on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2006 to demonstrate its wholesome goodness.

The far weirder part of this story is what the wine industry is doing running dog food tests.

“We have this idea in our head that dog food won’t taste good and that we would be able to identify it, but it turns out that is not the case,” said Robin Goldstein, a co-author of the study.

Goldstein said the tasting demonstrated that “context plays a huge role in taste and value judgment,” even though researchers warned the participants that one of the five foods they were going to taste was dog food.

Which is a fancy way of saying, with proper packaging and marketing, and if you charge way too much for it, a product will sell no matter how crappy it really is.

The authors of the report conclude that: “Although human beings do not enjoy eating dog food, they are also not able to distinguish its flavor profile from other meat-based products that are intended for human consumption.” Even though most couldn’t identify it, 72 percent of those in the study rated the dog food the worst-tasting of the five.

The study didn’t look at what wine goes best with dog food, but I would recommend a nice merlot with canned, and perhaps a sauvignon blanc with kibble.