Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Bigfoot: The Year of the Unplanned Expense

Unknown terrifying critter? Or unknown terrifying expense?

Ever think of the unplanned expense as kind of like the sasquatch? There’s no such thing as a bigfoot, eh? Surely if you spotted one, it would be a fluke. It would be a long spell, indeed, before you ever happened upon another one.

So one would think. The year 2014, though, has been the Year of the Bigfoot Expense around the Funny Farm. I swear: every month one unholy monster or another has jumped out of the brush. This month’s AMEX bill came in: $3420. Three times the budget!

Now, part 0f that was over $1700 for the car and homeowner’s insurance. But the rest of it? Mostly veterinary bills. Vet bill after vet bill after vet bill. And then the MasterCard bill came in: another $150 for the new vet, who won’t take American Express!

Every single month this year, starting in January, has brought bills like that: $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, now almost $3,500. Costs are out of control, and I don’t seem to be able to do much about it.

Some of these expenses were predictable: the insurance bills, of course. The Medigap bill that’s rising by another hundred bucks. The cost of pruning the accursed palm trees that flower and fruit and drop tons of equipment-busting beans, sharp little dried blossoms, icky worms, and filth into the pool. Gerardo reported that he talked the tree guy down to a mere $180 from his initial offer of $240.

Last week I had to buy a new pool cleaner. Granted, Harvey was ten years old, a very superannuated Hayward Pool Cleaner. But forgodsake: the bill was FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY BUCKS! The alleged $100 “rebate” is one of those mail-in rip-offs, and you don’t get cash back with which to pay your American Express bill. No. They give you one of those fake Visa cards, so you have to go out and spend the money needed to pay the bill on some other junk!

The puppy is costing a lot more than I planned on. It’s one thing to pay the breeder’s fee and then to get the usual shots and spaying and the like (she’ll have to be spayed in just two more months! That’ll be another two or three hundred bucks, presumably). But this little dog has been one constant drain on the checkbook. From what I can tell, too, once a dog gets a UTI, it’s likely to be a chronic condition that ultimately leads to bladder and kidney stones, which have to be treated with expensive and painful surgery.

Now I’m about to have a low fence put in to block her from the pool, since she will not stay away from the water and there’s no way I can train her to get herself out of there.

In the first place, “trainable” is not her middle name. UTI or no UTI, she’s still not house-trained and shows no sign of ever becoming so. Part of the problem is that she doesn’t indicate, the way most dogs do, when she feels the urge — it’s unclear whether she even does feel an urge, or whether she just kind of leaks. She doesn’t sniff around. She doesn’t circle back and forth. She just creates a puddle. Last night I had her penned in the office with me while I sweltered through another piece of Chinglo-academicese that needs to be returned to its authors within the next few days. In spite of being right under my nose, she peed under the chair, silently and seemingly motionlessly leaving a great puddle for me to find when I got up to let her out.

Given her general stubbornness, training her to get out of the pool is highly problematic. There’s only one spot in the entire, large pool — which must look like an ocean at dog’s-eye level — where either one of the dogs can get out. That’s the topmost of three steps at the shallow end. The corgis’ legs, even in adulthood, are too short to reach any of the other steps or to reach the bench at the deep end. That one, single step is only about three feet long and eighteen inches wide. The chances of a panic-stricken dog finding that thing, once it fall into the drink, are slim to nil. And “panic” is the operative word. Both dogs are so frightened by the water they can’t think.

In the second place, this proposed fence has to be custom-built and will cost $1,100. I am not at all sure I should spend eleven hundred bucks to protect a dog that I probably ought not to keep it all. Really, if I had any sense whatsoever, I would return her to the breeder. It’s painfully obvious that this dog came to me with something wrong at the outset, that she probably will never be well, and that I’m going to be dealing with yellow puddles all over the floor for as long as she lives.

Hate to do that, because she’s such a sweet little gal. But probably I ought to cut my losses while I can.

Because…more losses lurk on the horizon.

Sooner or later I’m going to have to get a car. The Dog Chariot is now almost 15 years old. It won’t run forever.

The pool has grown a permanent coat of algae. Nothing I do is getting rid of it. The best hope for a DIY fix is to pour an entire container of PhosFree in there and hope for the best. That will require having someone come and clean out the filter again (just had that done a month or so ago): another $150. That’s on the low end. And it’s a temporary fix.

The house needs a paint job: inside and out. That’s likely to cost around four grand.

The cracked tiles in the living room need to be replaced. And most recently, the kitchen cupboards or the wall next to them have settled, opening a big crack along one countertop and splitting a whole row of Mexican tiles. So, at best a couple dozen tiles need to be pulled out and replaced — quite a trick, with Mexican tile! At worst, the cause for this subsidence needs to be determined. God only knows what that will cost. And the middling possibility? It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the tiles can’t be replaced and so the whole countertop will have to be yanked out and rebuilt.

Those damn palm trees need to be removed. There are four of them. Cost could be, all told, as high as four grand.

So…think of that. We’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars in potential upcoming expenses. And we’re probably already pushing ten grand in unplanned expenses so far this year. It that’s not a sasquatch, I’d like to know what it is.

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Author: funny

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  1. Sorry to hear of your problems …I share your pain. it seems just when ya get a couple of bucks…something comes up to relieve you of those dollars. A couple of things…as hard as it is …I’d return the pup. Sadly she was sold WITH defect and as memory serves this pooch wasn’t cheap. And as you point out it appears this problem isn’t getting any better and probably won’t. Even an expensive surgery is no guarantee. Might want to re-think the need for a pup. MAN…with your busy schedule…don’t know how you do it all. A “puppy-less” life might just simplify things a bit. And of course no pup…no $1100 fence. As for the pool…not a fan. I have always said a pool is a large hole in the ground to dump money. In another life I was a Realtor and did a lot of “bank-work” …. a considerable amount of work for the now “infamous” Fannie Mae and their REO department. When I would take possesion of a Fannie Mae listing the worse thing that could happen was a pool be a part of the picture…liability issues…safety….drag on value….health issues…etc. I was proclaimed a “genius” when I had two loads of mulch delivered to a property and had laborers “fill” the pool with mulch. This addressed liability and health issue and if the new owner wanted the pool they need only clean out the mulch and landscape the flower beds with the mulch. To be clear we fully disclosed the pool and offered no warranty implied or otherwise. As for the Visa $100 “gift card”…good grief this is found money…send it in and get the card. You can use it anywhere….just used one at Home Depot. Maybe the $100 could be used for a purchase of some ribs for SDBX to work his “magic”….

  2. I agree with JestJack, especially about the puppy.

  3. Oh, the puppy. I remember your saying that people should get older dogs for this very reason: that health issues and temperament issues would be apparent.

    What happens to the pup if the breeder takes her back?

    And–as I always say–hate that pool!

    • Well, the breeder is a young woman and appears to be somewhat sentimental…but… Possibly not. She’s very much in this as a business, and I suspect if she thinks she can’t resell the pup, she’ll either put her down or ship her off to some rescue.

      Certainly that was the case when Anna the GerShep came up with hip dysplasia, despite the breeder’s extravagant claims that dysplasia had never appeared in the dog’s lineage. He proposed to make good on his guarantee by giving me a new puppy to raise (thank you SO much — after a year of furniture eating and yard excavation!) and putting Anna down. I told him to take a flying eff at the moon. The dysplasia didn’t affect her noticeably until she was very old and ready to go, so I never regretted turning his offer down.

      In this case, though…hm. If there’s a congenital issue, it could turn into a very expensive, very troublesome, and potentially heart-breaking proposition.

      The cost of the pool fence, though…jeez. I’m thinking this weekend I should run up to HD and see if they can refer me to someone else — at least get a second estimate before agreeing to eleven hundred dollah. The panels only cost about $50 apiece — a total of about $200 in parts. So this guy is asking for $900 to come over here and bolt a few prefab panels together. He claims they make them at their shop, and they may adjust the sizes…but when I said I wanted the fence in off-white, not black, and then said I’d seen 32-inch-high pieces at Lowe’s, he indicated that they were ordering parts from the same makers.

  4. Getting a credit card rebate does not mean you have to wastefully spend it on something just to use it up – the idea is that you use the money on that card for something you would normally buy, like maybe groceries or toward the next vet bill.

    As far as the dog, I agree with the others that you need to return her to the breeder. Perhaps you could check out the corgi rescue organization in Arizona if you still want another one in the house. But it sounds to me as though you need one that will not also have to have an $1100 fence install, if you can really afford another dog in the first place since your other expenses are going up. Grocery prices are on the rise and likely to keep going up for several years.

    The fence – putting one in correctly is well worth the labor this guy is charging. It is much more than just slapping some prefab panels in the ground. The holes are hard to dig and placed, the posts or sections need to be level and plumb and all at the same height and set together in a straight line aligned with the pool or house or existing fence, and presumably there will be a gate which has to be aligned correctly so the latch works.

    • Yeah, obviously I can take the card to Costco and use it to buy a week or two worth of of groceries. That defrays the amount I’ll have to put on the AMEX card.

      But the questions are…

      a) When will this vaunted Visa card show up? How long do I have to carry that $100 cost out of my own finances, unnecessarily?
      b) How much personal information do I have to share to get the precious card? Their form demanded, with starred REQUIRED tags, a phone number and an e-mail address, as well as my full name, my snail-mail address, the name of the store where I bought the product, and its address.
      c) How much of my time is consumed with this ridiculous process? It took a good half-hour to fill out the long, complicated application form — I had to go out to the trash and find the two deca-numeral model and serial numbers on the outside of the box that was on its way to recycling, and then, to finish that form, I had to go online, fill out the warranty form that AGAIN demanded that I share personal information that’s none of their business and fill in the 12- to 20-character numbers AGAIN and then copy another lengthy number into the hard-copy form. By the time I finished, I’d spent at least 40 or 50 minutes on the process, and THEN I had to drive the damn thing to the post office and mail it.
      d) What is the opportunity cost of this adventure? We can discount the cost of the envelope and the stamp, I suppose, but at $60/hour, filling out an endless form that requires me to dig through the trash and fa*t around online cost me at least $40; add the side trip to the post office (one leaves outgoing mail outside for the postal carrier at one’s peril around here), and we’re up to a $60 opportunity cost.
      e) How much of my privacy to I have to sacrifice for this? I filled in a fake phone number, so presumably I won’t get nuisance marketing calls from the Hayward company and all its affiliates and every scammer who buys its mailing list, but… If they call the number or e-mail the fake address I offered and don’t get a response, will they withhold the rebate?
      f) Why should I be required to lie to get a fair price on this product? Until recently, Leslie’s has offered it for $350 less about a $30 in-store rebate — i.e., $320. Now the price has gone up to $450; to get the real retail price, I have to jump through a lot of time-wasting hoops in which I am asked to divulge information I do not wish to share so that I can be made a target of intrusive marketing. To avoid that kind of nuisance, I have to fill in false information. I resent being made to lie to protect my privacy in my own home and I resent being made to lie to obtain a fair price on the product.

      IMHO, that’s quite a few questions. IMHO, it makes this kind of sales tactic a questionable practice…

    • P.S.: About the dog & the pool: I’ve decided that $1100 is out of the question. There’s no way I’m paying these guys $900 to install $200 worth of metal fence panels because…why? Because I’m too plug-lazy to train the dog to swim to the steps? Duh!

      There are three choices here:

      1) An electronic “fence” system that, for one helluva lot less than $1100 will zap the pup with an electric shock every time she gets near the pool; or

      2) leave the jury-rigged lash-up I have in place, knowing it has as its advantage that I can take it down whenever guests come over or whenever the dog smartens up; or

      3) actually go SO FAR as to…well, to train the dog. There’s a unique idea.

      Pup is still peeing on the floor occasionally, speaking of training, but she’s getting much, much better. It appears, judging by what’s said at the forum, that this particular breed can present some house-training challenges. Probably what is in order is patience. And a more vigorous effort at training all the way around.

      In every other way, she’s such a lovely little dog that one hesitates to divest oneself of her. She will hardly need any leash training: she walks right along smartly without any lunging and with only the slightest dragging for the first hundred feet or so, until she’s reminded that she’s supposed to walk WITH the human. She doesn’t dig. She doesn’t get into trash. She doesn’t eat the furniture. She doesn’t consume the houseplants. Except for the vet bills, she’s the next best thing to a taxidermy pet…

      Heeee! Check this out:;pgid=bIlaIrIpIotSRpxNVDv2O_VC000093ynomXq;sid=37JlRmT9D4pjRjd2ltz0Qvz3-B4uU0NRlKe0ol8B?_t=pfm%3Dcategory

    • By the way, if you enjoy reading VERY funny consumer reviews, go to Amazon and check out the 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star reviews of the “Rock” gadget.

  5. I do hope you love your little Ruby too much to return her to the breeder, especially if there is any chance she would be put down. I am a dog lover and have three rescues, two of whom are young and have issues, but my husband and I made a commitment to these pups by taking them home, and we are working with them to overcome their problems.

    I do understand the vet bills as our last rescue had to have an eye removed after we tried for two years to save it with very expensive medications. We had standing appointments with an animal opthamologist (there are only three hundred or so in the entire country) who practices in a nearby community. We are retired, and the costs did bite, but we would do it again, if necessary.

    I’m also waiting on a rebate by mail. I sent all the required receipts, etc. and received a postcard stating it was refused because I had not indicated the retailer from whom it had been purchased. This must be deliberate as the name was at the top of the receipt. I resubmitted it, highlighting the retailer’s name, and now we will see what happens.

    • OMG, don’t REMIND me about the dog ophthalmologist! But gosh, I had no idea there were so few…Anna and I could have walked to her doggy ophthalmologist’s office, if only the poor old gal could’ve walked that far by then.

      The more Ruby the Corgi Pup hangs around, the more attached Cassie and I get to her and the more unlikely it gets that she will go back to the breeder. Also, of course, Charley the Golden Retriever (an occasional but important visitor) dotes on her, and because they’re both puppies, Charley relieves Cassie of having to puppysit all the time and the two of them play until they fall over, sleep, and repeat.

      Yes, I had the same thing happen with the last mail-in rebate. That’s one of the several reasons I highly resent this practice — it’s just an excuse to cheat the consumer.

  6. Oh that IS vexing 🙁 The choices aren’t great .. but if it’s training/patience needed (patience you would have if you were less busy and had more time, I’m sure), perhaps it might be worth hiring a trainer for a few hours or sessions to help you get her on the right track?

    I tend to ignore any “return to breeder” guarantees because once I commit to a dog, I’m committed to the end of days, but if you knew she could and would rehab the pup before sending her forth again … maybe that is an option. I don’t know, maybe they just don’t do that.

    Huffle was just, now in his old age, diagnosed with a UTI and hope that it’s not a chronic thing. He seems asymptomatic though so at least there’s that.

    • Ah, the Huffle-Human! Yesh, I just have the feeling that this hound is under-trained.

      First, from haunting the corgi site, I’ve learned that many corgis are slow studies. Very, very slow studies. One woman remarked that at SEVEN MONTHS her corgi is just barely getting the idea.

      Second, despite a certain refactoriness, this is a very very sweet little dog (do you KNOW how much furniture Anna the GerShep had consumed by this age????)

      Third, though I do adore the breeder, I just have the worst feeling about taking her back. I mean, she may indeed try everything she can…but maybe not. I just don’t KNOW. I do know that I will continue to keep trying strategies.

      Really, what’s needed for the house-training strategy is a simple kitchen time. Set it to go off once an hour and trot the offending puppy out into the 115-degree heat every time it beeps.

      For the pool strategy: what’s needed is the nerve to fling the poor little thing into the drink, ignore her terror, and direct her to the steps…over and over and over again… I think that may be different from “spend $1100 on a stupid little fence that’s out of code and will just annoy the hell out of you.”