Nothing Comes To Mind

What is the Cost of One Dog Barking?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a story that typifies why that paper continues to hold our interest on a lot of days when nothing's going on of any note in the world of business. On the front page of the Personal Journal was a story headlined, "How Much Is Your Dog's Life Worth?"  It seems that in the wake of the pet-food problem now bedeviling pet owners nationwide, lawyers have entered the ring and are attempting to quantify the value of a poisoned dog to its owner, and then to monetize that value.

I am fortunate enough not to have fed my dog anything that contributed to its demise. But I came close very recently. And I can tell you exactly what a dog's life is worth: Whatever it takes.

Our story begins in  the bucolic Marin County town where I live when I am not in Manhattan. It's really beautiful out there. I highly recommend it. People talk about different things and eat locally grown organic food without smirking. Perhaps they drink too much coffee and indulge in too many team sports for children, but that's another story.

About a month ago, I ate some chicken. What kind of chicken is not really important. Suffice it to say that when I was done with the chicken, not being a total barbarian, I threw away the bones.  There they sat for a few hours in an open garbage can. Neither my wife nor I noticed that Julie, our usually vocal and somewhat omnipresent Cavalier King Charles spaniel, had grown preternaturally quiet, and had positioned herself in a subtle but inoffensive manner near the garbage can. She did nothing while we were in the house. It was only later that she struck.

After a quiet afternoon, it was time for us to go to a birthday party for our friend Bruce, who does body work in Fairfax. We were looking forward to it. A Marin party often involves very good food and outrageously tasty wine in demented quantities and this gathering proved to be no exception. There was noise and healthy comestibles of all sorts, and even some unhealthy stuff, too, which is always nice, and organic vodka from the region that tasted somewhat weird but did the job. When we could wassail no more, we returned home at about 10 PM to find the garbage can upended and nothing but a grease spot on the floor where a mound of chicken bones should have been.

I have had Lab/German Shepherd mixes who have eaten entire pastramis and lived to tell the tale, having suffered nothing but a Biblical thirst for a week and a month of bloat afterwards. My great dog of the 1980s, Blanche, a samoyed/collie mix, once ingested an entire chicken and the aluminum foil surrounding it and suffered no ill effects that I could see, although she was a bit thoughtful for a week or so afterwards. But Julie is a small thing, only 18 pounds. By midnight, she was lying on the floor panting. By 3 AM, we were up with her because she was circling the house impatiently, whining, asking to be taken out. Once out, she attempted to attend to her duties but was unsuccessful. At about 5 AM, my wife read about a home remedy online, one where you soak cotton balls in cold cream, a concoction that, eaten by the dog, ostensibly smooths the way for the bones to exit into the outer world again. So we were up before dawn at the Safeway, with Julie in the passenger seat of a shopping cart, purchasing nostrums for her.

At dawn, it was clear that nothing was helping our little friend. She was in trouble. Her enormous brown eyes stared up at us with liquid intensity. Couldn't we do something? Anything?

By the time we took her to the animal hospital, she had begun to throw up and show all the signs of, well, having a problem that would require surgery. And this where I believe the question that is posed in the Journal may be answered. Not for one moment did either human being in control of this situation think to him or herself: "I wonder how much this is going to cost?"

Okay, we have some disposable income, but we're no Buffetts. It didn't matter. As Lear said when presented with a future that was grossly unacceptable to him, "Oh question not the need!" We did not. Julie must be fixed. The world needed to be put back into proper operating condition.

In the end, our greedy little canis moronis did not need to be opened up and 1/2 of a poultry extracted. She merely needed three days in the hospital and a lot of recuperation to be set right. I'll spare you the details, which were truly disgusting, but it could have been worse. The tab came to $2000. We were planning on a trip to Disneyland this spring. Maybe next year.

Of course we're crazy. Of course such an expenditure in a world full of needy human beings is reprehensible, thoroughly. But I'll tell you something. When I get back to California at the end of the week and put down my bag in the entryway, and Julie comes out to greet me with her plump end wagging, and she flips over for a tummy rub... let me tell you: there's nothing in business like it. And what's that worth?

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My wife informs me that the home remedy that she picked up online involved cotton balls and heavy cream, not cold cream, as I originally remembered. She also points out that it didn't work anyhow.

If that's a picture of your dog, I've never seen one cuter. Who's the breeder?

I'm a little surprised by the cost. We had our dog operated on to remove a baby-bottle nipple and it was only $500. Of course that was '97 in Tennessee...

Having two cats, three dogs, and four horses, I sympathize. My wife and I are also no Buffetts, and I assume, no Bings, so I understand the dilemma of paying for medical care for an animal when so many humans cannot afford proper medical attention. That said, I think that to say its reprehensible is a little self serving, especially if you have a companion animal.

To say that giving proper care to an animal you’re responsible for is reprehensible, when you own an animal, is just a convenient cover to protect against the backlash of the extremists. Owning animals comes with responsibility. Part of that responsibility is getting them medical attention when it’s warranted. What is truly reprehensible is allowing animals to suffer needlessly because, well, the cost to benefit ratio just shifted.

Yes there are people in need, and yes, as fat Americans we could all do more to help, but once you start down that road, the meaning of reprehensible starts to get quite broad. After we achieve enough financial security to feed and house our family, is it reprehensible to spend money on, oh lets say, ‘outrageously tasty wine in demented quantities’, or maybe obscenely large cigars?

While I agree that buying designer jeans for my dog to wear to a canine birthday party is right on the edge of mental illness, proper medical care for my animals is certainly within reason.

So relax, Stan. Self loathing doesn’t look good on such a well known captain of industry.

The breeder of this very cute dog is in Enumclaw, Washington. Her name is Dawn. And that's all I remember.

Know the feeling very well. Our SHAWNEE-the Spoiled Rotten Rottie is getting out of the hospital today after TPLO surgery on the left knee. Not rich here but had an option to borrow from my 401K. Around $3300.00 this time. And the right knee have to be done after this one heals. Hopefully no HIP surgery will be required. Please research more about the people who we buy these dogs from. Even thought SHAWNEE was sold as PET QUALITY the AKC does not required any Health Standards for Breeders like other Clubs does overseas. But anyway the money is no concern, just SHAWNEE's health. JMHO

Spending $2000 to save your dog is your own choice, as long as you remember that choice the next time someone asks you for some spare change (or the next time you see a tip jar in front of that BARISTA you like to make fun of).

But that has nothing to do with someone else's demands for 6- or 7-figure compensation for the loss of a pet, which is what that article was about. If someone values an animal that much, that's there business. But under no circumstances is the rest of society - including whomever caused the death of the animal - obligated to assign the same value to it.

How much is a dog worth? Whatever it costs to get a new dog, and not a penny more. No matter how much you love it or how much it's "a part of the family," it's still just an animal and the question of compensation should consider it to be nothing but a piece of property.

This is the part where all the pet owners react by telling me how cold and heartless I if the only way I can prove I don't hate animals is to say a million-dollar lawsuit over a yellow tabby makes sense.

Dear Malden Dave,

How much should a barista be tipped?

Bing as an avid reader of your work I was very suprised yet delighted to see that you too have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Nice choice in breed.....and it makes me feel better about my manhood.

Sue: how much you tip a barista is up to you. But hard-working people in the service sector that get paid less than $8 an hours shouldn't be made fun of by the rich people they're serving lattes to, and told that their job is "bullsh-t," like Bing did.That's what SNOBS do, and it sickens me. Y'know what? I've got a great career that I'm very proud of. I consider myself successful. But I don't think that makes me better than those that aren't as successful as me. Bing's grabbing his latte on the way to "work," which consists of writing a blog...where he then says the people that made his latte have a "bulls--t job," as if they're not working hard.I can't believe I'm the only reader that had a problem with that.

Don't worry, Rachel! You'll get back to Disneyland!

First of all, Max was our 7 ½-year-old chocolate Labrador. On Tuesday, May 7, 2006, Max didn’t want to eat his dinner. So, I cooked him some ground turkey and rice and vegetables. He still wouldn’t eat. My husband was away on business, and I truly thought the dog was just being picky (he was picky about a lot of things). But when he wouldn’t eat on Wednesday morning and he had started to drink a lot of water, I took him to the vet immediately.

He also spent Thursday with our local veterinarian. We are lucky enough to be an hour from Tufts School of Medicine, and that’s where we took Max at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning. Not once did cost cross our minds. It turns out that Max had bone cancer that hit him hard and fast. We weren’t neglectful parents. He had had his annual exam and blood screening six months earlier. By the time he had his bone marrow draw on Friday and they read results, he had suffered liver and kidney damage. Everyone at Tufts was fabulous and kept Max’s comfort in mind at all times, along with allowing us to be with him every day. By Monday, after being on chemo drugs for a few days, his condition was still worsening. We decided to put him down at that point.

This whole process cost us over $6,000, and in the end we weren’t able to save our dog’s life. Would we do it again? Absolutely. Are we Buffetts? No. Are we Bings? No. Do we value the animals who are brave, stoic, protectors, who love us unconditionally, who ground us and comfort us and remind us to play, and eat and get enough sleep and that your pack is really what matters? Yes. David from Malden, an animal is more than “just an animal.” A LIFE is more than “nothing but a piece of property.” Our emotional loss was much greater than our financial loss.

Secondly, I don’t think that being a coffee barista is necessarily a B.S. job, but I also don’t think being a coffee barista deserves making much more than $8 per hour. We all have choices to make. I put myself through college cleaning houses, and after college I lived on the property of a church as the caretaker in exchange for rent. I am not above working—slaving—to have what I want. You do what you have to do get where you want to be, or you don’t do what you have to do and you continue your efforts as a coffee barista making $8 an hour.

Our beloved greyhound, Hudson, has cost us a small fortune (nearing the $5k mark) because of his teeth. (All of which have now been removed. Retired racing dogs have bad teeth - long story.)

As far as what a pet is worth, I think that if you are going to bring an animal into your life, you need to be willing and able to spend what it takes to keep that animal alive and healthy.

For reference, we found out about CareCredit - a credit card for pet (and human) health care that lets you pay off your charges within 12 months with zero interest. It's been a huge help when we were going through all we did with Hudson's teeth.

PS: You can see our lovely, and now pain-free, grey on youtube. If you type in "crazy greyhound," you'll see him running and digging in our yard.

Adopting a greyhound = $150
Taking care of him = $xx,xxx
Being part of his life = priceless

Back at you, Bing. Give your puppy a kiss from us.

Whatever it takes indeed.
Shortly after rescuing my dog.. he crashed My local vet did not diagnose him, despite several visits. I to him to an internist in another state.
About 2000$ later he was diagnosed with Addisons disease. His monthly meds run about 60$
I am fortunate.. they saved his live and he is healthy while on these meds..

I could never give up on my dog as long as he has quality of life and is not suffering...

CareCredit is a blessing!

are you still in the emergancey
room cause your dog has knee or
chest sugery i hope she lives.
and you should keep her in
your room all night and
morning like when you get up
and when you call your dog in
and sleep with all the time
and when your husband leaves
too work you keep sleeping
with your dog.