Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Toby - Our $40,000 Basset Hound

Toby Welcome Sign created by Phyllis Levine
Happy 10th Birthday to Toby! Tobias Wang Helfand was born December 5, 2001. Toby is a full bred Basset Hound. His parents' names were Sir Studley Dudley II and Lady Daisy May XIV. He was the first born in a litter of eight, records indicate his nickname was TOPS and the litter was chronicled by the attending vet of being all male pups. Here is a very quick overview of how we came to buy Toby.

Let me go on record right now. I take full responsibility for finding the classified advertisement in the local Irvine/Newport Beach paper. The ad nicely described Basset Hound pups for sale $400. Ever since I was a little girl and became aware of Hush Puppies shoes I have wanted a Basset Hound. I showed the ad to Daniel, our youngest son, who was at the time a high school senior. Daniel signed on immediately to the idea...remarking to his father: "Don't worry, I will walk the puppy. This dog is going to be a chick magnet!" And so, on January 28, 2002, Dennis and Daniel made the short drive to Mission Viejo, CA, and eagerly paid $400 cash for a pure bred Basset Hound.

"Tobias Wang Helfand"
Ten years really does help you put things in perspective. Looking back I now know I should have been suspect when the Bill of Sale said: "The basset hound puppy is not returnable at any time. The buyer accepts all responsibility for the basset hound puppy on 01/28/2002. Once the basset hound puppy is removed from the Seller's residence the Seller accepts no further responsibility."  My radar should have started buzzing when we took Toby to the vet for the first time. This was to be a quick check-up, but it started with the very nice vet questioning whether or not Dennis and I were aware that "basset hounds are not the sharpest tool in the shed?"  Whew...this has been an interesting 10 years and the financial toll really is right about $40,000.

Most of the $40,000+ is due to vet bills (Toby gets fatty cysts that need to be removed when they explode or get infected) and home repairs (Toby really is not the sharpest tool or the brightest bulb---real housebreaking did not occur until we brought him to Tucson where we have a fenced yard, and then even now he still has accidents on the saltillo tile).

Here is a run down:
  1. $13,075 Veterinary bills
  2. $22,317 Home repairs, new flooring and decking
  3. $  2,000 Boarding
  4. $  2,400 Food
  5. $     500 Judy's out-of-pocket medical expenses for permanent hand injury
  6. $40,292 TOTAL 
I don't want to give you the wrong impression. I like Toby. Who am I kidding?  I love Toby. He takes great photos and often serves as the headliner for holiday letters. But every time someone tells me they want to get a dog, I caution them to think about the real expense, not just the emotional attachment and companionship. I jokingly remind them that if it weren't for Toby I might only need to vacuum twice per month! By the way, that $40,000 figure does not include any furniture damage, leashes, harnesses (he used to chew through them) or prescriptions (only Toby would acquire Valley Fever two months after moving to Tucson).

So here's to Toby. Happy Birthday to Toby.

"Should I expect party favors and cake?"

"Ears which sweep away the morning dew."

Your thoughts?  

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Amber Avines said...

I can't even wrap my head around the fact that you're organized enough to tally vet receipts for the last ten years. I adopt senior dogs, so I always incur a lot of extra veterinary costs. But, I'd gladly continue to pay to have any of those departed furbabies back in my life ;-)

Best to Toby!

Judy Helfand said...

Thanks for stopping see I was a banker for 20 years, so I keep crazy copious records! Since I use Quickbooks for our business, I also keep my household account in QB. This means I always "spread" the expenses to the "Pet Expenses". My husband was in shock after I showed him the $$$, but the two of them just enjoy each other, what could he do? I love the idea of rescuing, but on the other hand, I do believe that a lot of dogs end up being rescued because the original owners just had no idea of the financial responsibility of pet ownership.

Here's to our best friends!

Judy Helfand said...

One more thought for my friend,Amber. I forgot to tally the expense for prescription glasses that he has destroyed. I am sure Lenscrafters changed their free replacement for any reason feature (lost or damaged)after we appeared at least six+ times for over a 12 month period and I know for sure that our cable company in Newport Beach started charging us for all the TV tuners he destroyed! Oh, well...parenting can be hard!

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