Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Meeting an insurance professional might not conjure thoughts of a fun, dynamic man. But pull up a chair. David Markham’s about to burst your bubble.
“My whole life has been with dogs,” he begins his story of coming to be a territory partner with Trupanion Pet Insurance. “I was raised with Bouviers — big dogs.”
Returning home from a stint in the Marine Corps, David got his first dog as an adult, a Dalmatian named Murphy. At 10 weeks during her first vet appointment, the doctor told David she wouldn’t live long, and asked if he wanted to “put her down.”
“I didn’t get that,” he says. “Then when she reached 3 or 4, I started really babying her. Then she hit 8, then 9. I took her everywhere with me, and invested a good chunk of change in her health.” After losing Murphy at age 11, David says, “I swore I’d never get another dog.”
Then he wed his high school sweetheart, who had just adopted Sydney, a Boston Terrier.
At age 4 Sydney had a spendy medical event ($8,000). David had just sold his financial planning practice and was wrapping a consulting contract with a law firm.
“I never planned on having another career,” he says. “But then Sydney had another big vet bill [this time $4,000], and I started researching pet insurance — I had spreadsheets on every one. When I found Trupanion it seemed too good to be true, and I actually sent them a facetious note, saying: ‘I cannot imagine your model is making money, but if you are close, I want to invest in your company.’”
“So through my dog’s vet bills I discovered Trupanion,” he says, and a gig through which he could “be around animals and people who loved animals.”
“It’s been awesome,” he continues. “For the training, it was: ‘Here’s your stuff. Go in, be nice, and tell people what you’ve got.’ So I did. Even though pet insurance has been around for 30 years, people had never walked into hospitals to talk about it. It was uphill, but the hospitals liked it — they got that it removed obstacles to providing needed care.”
“Now when I walk in I’m met with hugs and Thank yous,” he says. “It feels good to have taken something nonexistent to acceptance.” Trupanion went public this year, “A big moment.”
David’s biggest wish is to educate hospital staff so they can talk about pet insurance, proactively, “like 12,000 dollars ago.” He does love that his company offers a 30-day trial that is “truly free — and covers 90 percent without any payout limits.”
So what’s a busy hands-on exec do outside of work? This one enjoys time with his wife and 4-year-old son, Chase.
“The first two years of Chase’s life was just work. I was getting Trupanion started, wrapping up the consulting contract.” Several times, after 3:30 am conference calls (with the East Coast) and late nights with his newborn he would find himself asleep in his car in the parking lot of a veterinary hospital.
This summer the family enjoyed traveling — to Utah, Cannon Beach, Sunriver, to their family’s beach house in Garibaldi. They went clamming and have plans to soon go crabbing.
David keeps fit by playing basketball — “I can’t do regular stuff; I’ve got to be chasing a ball around.” Soon he and his family will be watching the pros. David’s wife’s dad is the Blazers’ doctor, so, “my son is so spoiled,” he says. The Blazers have a childcare for the team so he is able to watch the game, play, or do craft projects. “We go to a lot of games, often sitting next to the Blazers bench thanks to Mike and Kathy Rice and his in-laws.
This little tidbit leads to others that begin to let you know you’re getting a feel for this man.
His wife, a longtime professional dancer in New York, was the “it girl” at Jefferson High in Portland.
“I bet the football team I could get Kim Reis to go out with me,” David reminisces. “I bet every one of them 5 bucks. We had some kind of assembly and they’re asking ‘where’s your girlfriend.’ I told them I hadn’t seen her— that I’d go find her. Actually I was terrified and planning to just run away. I headed for one of those doors with the bar you push to open, popped it, and . . . there stood Kim! I. Was. Terrified. Kim asked if I was going to ask for her phone number . . . I said yes. . . .
Twenty years later David concocted a story about picking up a video of a play he’d written in high school (another great story — ask him about this one when you see him). He set things up with the old school secretary, the principal, and . . . arriving at the school everything was prepared for the moment, with flowers and romantic touches.
“Kim pointed out that this was the very spot where I’d first asked for her number, and she wanted to reenact that moment! I got down on one knee . . . .”
A romantic man? Check. His favorite film confirms it even more. “Field of Dreams,” he says. “Used to be Rudy, but because I have a little boy now . . . I can’t watch it without crying my eyes out.”
As for the shoe? “If I'm not working then these are on. The picture is from the cruise I bid on at the last Pet Partners Auction.”
About his bucket list, David says, “Thinking about this made me realize how heavily involved I am with my business and family. Making pet insurance normal is my bucket list and making sure my wife and son are happy happy happy.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.