Stepping in Dough … Ewww

“I’d do anything for $4,000” says anyone who had yet to learn that the 4K is on deposit with the family dog and taking a withdrawal is … well … if you think traditional banking stinks, try this.

This column is about dog poop. More precisely, it is about searching for partially digested money in dog poop and weighing your appetite for risk when considering retirement.

But before I get to the gut-wrenching issues of high finance, I would like to extend a thank you to Michael Hayes and Michael Bush for participating in the column and providing their expert financial opinions which will certainly be something they can display prominently on their resumes. 

Michael Hayes is my financial planner and a senior partner at Community Financial in downtown Fredericksburg. One of his many duties is to help me and my wife accumulate abundant wealth so she can retire in two years, and I can continue to buy baseball cards at the Card Cellar (located at 915 Caroline Street, for all of your gift buying needs including cans of fake poop).

Being the true professional that Mr. Hayes is, he was quick to question how “unpaid humorist” contributes to the financial well-being of our household, and I assured him that Mark Twain started out writing for a Substack.

(A quick shout out to the fine people at the Community Financial Compliance Department who are allowing Mr. Hayes the opportunity to be a part of this column after reviewing some of my previous columns for appropriate content. For those of you wondering if one of those columns was about a certain Florida school board member and statistical probability, I’d just like to remind you that said column also featured Dads for Puppies and is a grassroots movement we can all get behind. More on getting behind dog movements in a minute.)

Michael Bush is a financial advisor assistant at Nicole Cole Financial. (CONSCIENTIOUS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ALERT: Nicole Cole is a member of the Spotsylvania School Board who appears at meetings live and in person and stays until the end!) Mr. Bush recently ran for a seat on the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors, and, as with most candidates I publicly support and help on election day, he lost. I do not believe the loss was based on any shortcomings in my candidate but rather the fact that he was running against a former Navy SEAL who now runs a local violin shop which, as a protagonist in a novel, would have made a creative writing teacher groan about the cliché of it all.

I needed the expertise of Mr. Hayes and Mr. Bush after reading a recent article on a happy, loving couple whose equally happy and loving dog Cecil ate $4,000 in cash that they had left on a table. It does not appear that the cash was lying around because of a Breaking Bad venture, but rather that they were going to put up a fence in their backyard and the contractor asked to be paid in cash.

At some point, the beloved family dog wanted to see what a wad of cash tasted like and proceeded to eat all of the $4,000.

Doing his best Flo Rida in a strip club impersonation, Cecil could not digest the entirety of the wad of bills and “made it rain” by throwing up about $1,000 worth of bills which the couple could easily launder and put toward their new fence. Alas, a fence on only one side of a yard is a wall and easily walked around by dogs and scaled by immigrants with a four-foot ladder. The couple consulted with the dog’s veterinarian who advised that the cash should not pose a problem as long as it was able to pass through the dog’s digestive system. The couple did some research and learned that banks will accept bills that have been digested by dogs as long as the serial numbers are intact and more than half of the bill can be saved. As such, walking Cecil and cleaning up after him now required CSI-like forensic operations because, well, that must be one helluva fence.

(A friend of mine works for PNC Bank and argues that the brick-and-mortar bank locations are no longer necessary and are a drain on the company’s overall financial outlook. To which I can now reply, find me a way to present partially digested legal tender that has been crapped out by the family dog online and I’ll concede your argument.)

I consulted with Mr. Hayes and Mr. Bush on what professional advice they would offer to clients who are faced with thousands of dollars that are neither lost nor stolen but are not readily available to provide to a fencing contractor because they are enveloped in Cecil’s poop.

“This is a classic instance of a cost/benefit analysis, and the value is going to vary from person to person,” said Hayes with a straight face although I cannot swear to it because it was via email. “What benefit amount of dollars is worth the cost of sorting through poop to recover the fragments of money, clean them and then tape them back together? There is no right or wrong answer here, just a personal decision of what it has to be worth to you to do all of this work.”

Far be it for me to question the expertise of my financial planner, but I do now wonder what finance classes he took at Mary Washington College featuring this classic instance.

Mr. Bush recently graduated from Christopher Newport University and apparently did not have the same textbook or the same example in his college finance classes. 

“That’s a tough case,” he said by email (making a mental note to change his email address).  “Hopefully they took pictures or documented the cash beforehand. I’d say use some gloves and only for the big $100 bills, because that sounds like a disgusting and tedious task. I also hope their bank gives them some grace, because I don’t know how much a financial advisor could support them in this situation!”

While most might agree with Mr. Bush’s description of this situation as “disgusting” and that the “Cecil Conundrum” has no useful implications beyond a business school exercise, I see this as an opportunity. As established in a prior column, my dog Fenway tends to avoid pooping in his own yard and much prefers the lush grass of my neighbor Tyrone’s front yard.

I understand that Tyrone does not want to clean up after Fenway for free, so what I intend to do going forward is to occasionally feed Fenway some smaller bills and advise Tyrone that anything he finds, he can keep. It’s called Crapple Pay (copyright pending).