Snuggles Update

snuggs-home

This is Snuggles, happy to be home finally from her surgeries and near life-ending coyote encounter.  Thanks to everyone who sent in their best wishes.

Like most of us she is a bit vain so she asked for the head shot, since from the sides she is a total mess of randomly shaved patches, bite marks, and Frankenstein-like stitches.  She has lost about 25% of her body mass, so she is no longer the World's Largest Maltese (TM).  She has, though, upped the ante in the competition for World's Most Poorly Groomed Maltese (TM).

For dog and pet lovers, I don't have to explain why we spent thousands of dollars to keep her alive.

For those of you who are not (and I was really in that camp a few years ago as this is my first pet), I will tell you what I told a cynical friend:  "I did not necessarily spend thousands of dollars to save the dog.  I spent it to save my kids from heartbreak.  And just possibly, to preserve my reputation in the eyes of my family (sorry kids, I really wanted that new Alienware laptop so Snuggs is not going to make it)."

Update:  I find the rational choices discussion in the comments unsurprising given the diversity of responses I have had from friends.  Key facts here:  1.  I could afford it (grandma was not going to get put out on the ice flow to save the dog); 2.  I was entirely responsible for the costs;  3.  The hospital, unlike in the human world, gave me a very detailed cost estimate of what the procedure would cost in advance.    When the costs went over, we challenged them and they agreed to a refund.  4.  My daughter had a very difficult day yesterday.  This morning I found her sleeping snuggled up with the dog in bed.  Put a price on that.

  • Steve Merryman

    That's good news. Glad to hear she's on the mend. We live out in the woods and are always on the lookout for coyotes, though our dogs are each over 100lbs, so I'm actually more concerned for the coyotes (kidding!). My biggest vet bills have come from porcupines, and the dogs never learn.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    My mom had a Siberian Husky that was hit by a car at around 6months age. 2 broken legs on the same side and massive internal bleeding. $5,000 in vet bills. She lived to the ripe old age of 14.

  • kidmugsy

    "A person with those kinds of injuries would probably end up with bills close to $500,000": what can the explanation be, I wonder?

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Wait, you mean this wasn't covered by Obamascare?

    Dogs are people, too....

    [Glad the doggy is better]

  • LarryGross

    so much for rational choices, eh? it happens,.....

    I'm glad Snuggles made it! and I'm glad you spent the money!

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Yeah Idiot Domain, just like animals, poor people, rich people, and probably non-people too all use the ER

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-02/another-problem-obamacare-won-t-solve-health-costs.html

  • Gil G

    Maybe this site should be renamed "Snuggles Blog"?

  • obloodyhell

    }}} I will tell you what I told a cynical friend: "I did not necessarily
    spend thousands of dollars to save the dog. I spent it to save my kids
    from heartbreak. And just possibly, to preserve my reputation in the
    eyes of my family (sorry kids, I really wanted that new Alienware laptop
    so Snuggs is not going to make it)."

    I believe you are setting a bad example for your kids but you are free to disagree, by all means. I'd not argue myself to be indisputably correct.

  • LarryGross

    People make decisions like this all the time.. they give a substantial portion of their income to Church or charity or pay for expensive operations for their pets or long term care for their parents - at a huge cost to their own finances... and ability to even provide for their own needs.

    and Warren just provided a good example of how a very Libertarian-thinking guy is subject to the same kinds of things that push people into spending on things that if looked at purely as a financial issue , they would not.

    so the whole idea of people making "rational choices" has caveats, not the least of which is that the phrase "rational choice" is highly subjective - as demonstrated by Warren and Snuggles and his daughter.

  • marque2

    I did the same. Paid $3000 to have a cancerous leg removed my cat. It was mostly for the kids. But we also felt guilty because it was caused by one of the shots we had given her.

  • marque2

    Why is it irrational to save a pet if you can? It is only irrational if you force someone else to pay for it.

  • marque2

    Part of it is risk. If you operate on a dog and it dies - it is sad but not catastrophic. If you sew up a human you have to be 10x as careful because we value human life much more and you risk every law suit imaginable. Plus any medication/devices for humans has to go through more rigorous testing and refining. If a dog gets an autoimmune disease from a procedure - over 6 additional years of life it might not be noticed. For people they can suffer for decades.

  • LarryGross

    isn't the basic underpinnings of a free market that people will make rational choices and not spend money on frivolous things?

    " Definition of 'Rational Choice Theory'

    An economic principle that assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the greatest benefit or satisfaction and that are in their highest self-interest. Most mainstream economic assumptions and theories are based on rational choice theory.

    Investopedia explains 'Rational Choice Theory'

    Dissenters have pointed out that individuals do not always make rational, utility-maximizing decisions:

    - The field of behavioral economics is based on the idea that individuals often make irrational decisions and explores why they do so.

    - Nobel laureate Herbert Simon proposed the theory of bounded rationality, which says that people are not always able to obtain all the information they would need to make the best possible decision.

    -Economist Richard Thaler's idea of mental accounting shows how people behave irrationally by placing greater value on some dollars than others even though all dollars have the same value. They might drive to another store to save $10 on a $20 purchase, but they would not drive to another store to save $10 on a $1,000 purchase.

    seems like no amount of "rational" thinking could justify an economic benefit to spending money on something that will not provide you with tangible economic benefits.

    If someone can spend their own money on something that has no real economic value then why can't those also vote that their taxes be spend that way also?

    many would say that our taxes spend on sending our young to die for nothing in a foreign land also does not make economic sense yet we all have to pay taxes to do that.

    so you think taxes spent on the military is "rational" while others disagree. You'd vote to tax people to spend that money on the military and others would vote to not tax people to spend money on the military but they would to provide others with health care.

    so we argue about what? the idea of taxation as a concept. or what taxes are spent on?

    Certainly the founding fathers believed that taxes were necessary for things they thought were necessary ...right?

  • marque2

    Coyotes are clever. They will have one start playing with your large dog and lead it to an ambush where 5 -6 others are hiding. Then the dog is toast no matter how big the dog is.

  • LarryGross

    we went to a Discovery Museum on the Columbia River where two ladies did a presentation on owls including live owls and it was fascinating... especially at the end where they talked about the things they found in owl nests.... collars for small dogs...

    true story.

    ;-)

  • c_andrew

    The moral-political foundation for a free market is that people, absent coercion, will make the kind of economic decisions that they think will benefit them. There's nothing to say that every decision one makes is to maximize economic utility. I know the various incarnations of homo economicus argue that that is the sum of human action but it is not so. Humans are utility calculating entities but they aren't only utility calculating entities.

  • LarryGross

    but that's the reason given why it's better for individuals to make economic decisions rather than government, right?

  • marque2

    First - false , there is nothing in economics that says we won't spend on frivolous things. Second - why do you say this is frivolous.

    I really wonder with the stupid things you say - how I got banned from Carpet Diem with nothing but nice posts and why they keep you around.

  • LarryGross

    it's not me saying them guy;

    " Rational choice theory, also known as choice theory or rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior.[1] Rationality, interpreted as "wanting more rather than less of a good", is widely used as an assumption of the behavior of individuals in microeconomic models and analysis and appears in almost all economics textbook treatments of human decision-making. It is also central to some of modernpolitical science,[2] sociology,[3] and philosophy. It attaches "wanting more" to instrumental rationality, which involves seeking the most cost-effective means to achieve a specific goal without reflecting on the worthiness of that goal. Gary Becker was an early proponent of applying rational actor models more widely.[4] He won the 1992 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his studies of discrimination, crime, and human capital."

    In other words, "public choice" is said to be a bad policy because people do not make "rational choices" with others money but as Warren has proved here.. people don't necessarily make rational choice themselves in terms of pure economic benefit.

    to preserve his assets.. Warren would have been better off not spending his scarce resources to save a dog ... that later on he might need for business expansion or college or his daughter...

    we all make such choices.. whether they be private or public and this proves that even in private decisions we do not necessarily pick the most advantageous economic choice...but rather one that costs us ...

  • Matthew Slyfield

    You assert that Warren's choice was irrational, but that's all it is, an assertion of opinion. The same argument you user for not spending money to save the dog would apply to money spent to save his wife or one of his children.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    No, the argument is not that every individual will make decisions that maximize their individual utility. Rather that the sum of those decisions will necessarily provide more over all utility than any one size fits all government program. The government by imposing one size fits all solutions is actually maximizing dis-utility.

  • Not Sure

    "so the whole idea of people making "rational choices" has caveats"

    It's clearly rational to Warren. So tell me, LarryGross- as he hasn't even hinted that anyone but himself be held responsible for bearing the cost of his choice, why is your opinion of what's rational relevant here?

  • DaveK

    I live in a rural, forested area, and we have all sorts of predators around us... coyotes, cougars, bobcats, bears, racoons, etc. I accept that they are part of the environment and live with it. However, I absolutely do not encourage their presence close to our home. Absolutely no garbage left outdoors, even in a well secured bin. And when one of those predators ever is seen around the property, they are agressively made unwelcome, even up to gunfire aimed in their close proximity. I don't hate them, and don't begrudge their existence. But I want to make darned sure that they fear humans enough that they won't casually linger around.

  • LarryGross

    actually asking if it fit the economic theory of "rational choice" since we often hear that people are better judges of the economic value of transactions than governments or central planners.

    I always believed the word "rational' was subjective from the get go as people will spend money on all sorts of things - that don't necessarily benefit them economically.

    I wasn't ragging on Warren.. just pointing out that "rational choice" seems to not always apply to a lot of economic decisions that we make..

    and I'm glad he saved Snuggles!

  • Matthew Slyfield

    " just pointing out that "rational choice" seems to not always apply to a lot of economic decisions that we make.."

    You do no better at establishing that point than you do at establishing that Warren's choice was irrational.

  • LarryGross

    well.. it's not just my point.. it seems to be many economists point also:

    " Definition of 'Rational Choice Theory'

    An economic principle that assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the greatest benefit or satisfaction and that are in their highest self-interest. Most mainstream economic assumptions and theories are based on rational choice theory.

    Investopedia explains 'Rational Choice Theory'

    Dissenters have pointed out that individuals do not always make rational, utility-maximizing decisions:

    - The field of behavioral economics is based on the idea that individuals often make irrational decisions and explores why they do so.

    - Nobel laureate Herbert Simon proposed the theory of bounded rationality, which says that people are not always able to obtain all the information they would need to make the best possible decision.

    -Economist Richard Thaler's idea of mental accounting shows how people behave irrationally by placing greater value on some dollars than others even though all dollars have the same value. They might drive to another store to save $10 on a $20 purchase, but they would not drive to another store to save $10 on a $1,000 purchase.

    http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rational-choice-theory.asp

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Do you have some evidence of this actually happening.

    I have a 60lb American Pit Bull Terrier. He is strong as hell. If coyotes tried that with him, they might technically win but it is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory.

  • c_andrew

    The moral reason for why it is better for individuals to make economic decisions is that it is their life, their time (labor), and (absent coercion) their property with which they're making the decisions.

    The economic reason is that they will generally have more information about what is going into that decision than any bureaucrat or other gov't functionary will. And this point will extend beyond gov't. I had a physician try to prescribe a latest generation blood thinner. Now, medically speaking, it was better than the old style I was on. Less lag time, fewer side effects - although some of them were really doozies - but I told him I would stay on the old generic.

    He was a little put out. "But it's a better drug," he insisted.

    "Yes, Doctor, it is. But it's not 100X better."

    I don't have insurance that covers prescriptions. So the old warfarin costs me $4.96 per month. The new one - which required a daily abdominal injection - another big downside from my perspective - costs over $500.00 per month and you have to keep it refrigerated and renew it every week.

    So suppose you have a bureaucrat of a medical doctor who don't know my circumstances of limited means and no prescription coverage. They are going to insist that the $500.00 drug is better for my condition. They might even be right about my condition. But they are most definitely not right about ME. That's my rent check and utility bills all in one go.

    So I am maximizing my utility and it's not just about the money although that is a large part of it. The other negatives; refrigeration, self injection, weekly trips to the pharmacy have a monetary component but are mainly tradeoffs about convenience, pain, and convenience, respectively.

    So if I choose to spend money fixing a beloved pet or time in rehabbing them afterward, these are not necessarily irrational decisions. Because whether they are irrational or not depends on what I find important and what I have the means to do. And this is information that is not available to the outside observer whatever his credentials.

  • c_andrew

    That doesn't surprise me. A friend of mine had two cats; one was paranoid to the point schizoid behavior; the other was more laid back. Guess which one didn't get carried off and eaten when the great owl moved into the neighborhood.

  • LarryGross

    I totally agree with you but that's not what economists who lean libertarian say.

    I thought all along that people do not have perfect information and they make subjective decisions not only when they lack info - but even when they have good info, they make choices that reflect their own values which is not pure economic values as claimed by those who say people make "rational choices" therefore they are "better" than the choices that govt makes because govt cannot be trusted to make "rational" decisions and, in fact, people cannot be trusted to make "rational decisions" when they elect governance or vote for taxes or regulations".

    People CAN.. CHOOSE to want their taxes spent on helping the poor rather than building more warships... and the idea that in making that choice they are not "rational" is as arrogant and ignorant as anyone saying they only make rational decisions as individuals also.

    the idea that anyone could determine what is "rational" for both the individual and public choice is flawed... as we see.

    "I can spend my money on a dog but I don't want my taxes spent on the poor".

    right?

  • marque2

    By Larry's standard it isn't rational to have a pet at all. Feeding dog food is a cost and what does it produce?

    Reminds me of "The Trouble With Tribbles"

    "They are consuming our supplies and returning nothing"
    "But they do give us something [Mr. Gross] they give us love."

  • Not Sure

    "By Larry's standard it isn't rational to have a pet at all. Feeding dog food is a cost and what does it produce?"
    As best I can tell from the experience of having two dogs of my own, it produces the same thing as what's found in a progressive's head.

  • LarryGross

    actually the opposite.. but those of us that do that do not conform to the libertarian ideas of "rational choice". Just good to see Warren break the rule also.

  • Not Sure

    Gawd, but you're dumb.

  • marque2

    What rule did he break? I agree with not sure. You just make some random unfounded statement and run with it like it is true.

  • LarryGross

    he broke no rule. He's a normal human being despite his dallying around with economic theory that purports that people always choose things economically that will benefit them economically - i.e. the notion of "greed" in a free market.

    people don't "waste" money ... even Warren had qualms about spending that money and more or less admits, if it were just him alone, he might not have.

    that's an example of a person in a market being influenced by things besides money or wealth.

    that happens to normal people - all the time and yet we are told that, for instance, if the price of fast food goes up because of minimum wages, that people will buy less fast food and people will lose jobs.

    Nope. They'll do what Warren did and he'll find something else to cut back on rather than Snuggles.(or fast food). some things are "elastic" ....but those things are often unique to the individual. Some folks would do what Warren did and save Snuggles and some would not. How does a theory accurately describe that transaction in the context of a "market" of people buying something - on price alone?

    .

    this same logic is what underpins govt and taxation - when people vote. They vote for things that may not make - economic sense from a pure economic theory perspective.

    for instance, they vote for public schools, not less taxes and private schools.

    they vote for EMTALA that guarantees medical treatment for anyone rather than deny treatment to those who cannot pay.

    So Warren perhaps puts away a few less shekels for his Daughter's college or a new vehicle or less in savings.. etc... and from an economist view - more than a pure economic calculation went into the decision - a subjective but normal human decision went into it - and Warren knows it - you can see it in his words." I will tell you what I told a cynical friend: "I did not necessarily spend thousands of dollars to save the dog...."

    and he is correct.. it's a very human condition that drives our economic choices.

  • Doom22015

    No, the underpinning of a free market is that the money is his, to spend freely as he decides -- even if he spends $ on pets or on pet rocks.

    Rational choice theory is just one academic theory (and an insufficient one) for describing people's economic behavior.

    You can argue that he was weighing the dollar cost of saving Snuggles against the non-monetary costs that would have been imposed by his family if he had said no. The last part of his post is pretty direct about that. Fair to say that his action was prudent.

  • LarryGross

    as you admit, even if the money is his - his choices are more than basic economic ones and subjective ....

    we mostly agree...

    sometimes no amount of dollars can save a dog or a person.

    sometimes the cost of saving the dog is $20,000 when you are already broke.

    the point is that this is not a situation where theory can predict the outcome.

    it involves the essential nature of humans .. who are not 100% rational in their economic decisions...

    the premise of rationality is what underpins the idea that people know better what to do with their money than government..because they would never waste their own money but government would.

    While I do subscribe to the idea that spending one's own money is different than spending someone elses money... it does not guarantee that spending one's own money guarantees that it will only be spent in economically rational ways...or at least in ways that rational choice theory says - as justification for free market only transactions.

    it's a personal decision that involves subjective choices. It typifies human behavior unlike the economic theories purport to do....

  • Doom22015

    Wrong. The reason is that our freedom is a moral right. If government (combining all levels) allocates 30% of all I produce! then 30% of all my labor is for somebody else and is taken from me with an implicit threat of force. If that percentage were to climb high enough, I could call the situation slavery, or at least indentured servitude.

    The pragmatic argument that it is better (in terms of resource allocation efficiency and productivity) for private decision-makers to decide where & how to spend their money is manifestly obvious to anybody who has spent their career as I have around government.

  • Doom22015

    I wish I could get a direct vote for more warships...

  • LarryGross

    but now you're not making an economic argument - you're making an argument about government and taxation and the morality of it, right?

    re: the "pragmatic argument" ... resource allocation..efficiency... and private decision-makers...

    but "private" decision makers are no more assured of making rational decisions than individuals because both are human and both have subjectivity in their decision-making.

    If private decision-makers were always correct, there would be no Edsels or New Coke or Blackberry or Blockbuster video.

    that's the essential nature of competition.. some people make better economic decisions than others.... right?

    and I note that more than a few Libertarian types hate the idea of private sector toll roads or water/sewer or peak-hour pricing of electricity, etc.

  • LarryGross

    re: " The economic reason is that they will generally have more information about what is going into that decision than any bureaucrat or other gov't functionary will. And this point will extend beyond gov't. I had a physician try to prescribe a latest generation blood thinner. Now, medically speaking, it was better than the old style I was on. Less lag time, fewer side effects - although some of them were really doozies - but I told him I would stay on the old generic.

    He was a little put out. "But it's a better drug," he insisted.

    "Yes, Doctor, it is. But it's not 100X better."

    I don't have insurance that covers prescriptions. So the old warfarin costs me $4.96 per month. The new one - which required a daily abdominal injection - another big downside from my perspective - costs over $500.00 per month and you have to keep it refrigerated and renew it every week.

    So suppose you have a bureaucrat or a medical doctor who don't know my circumstances of limited means and no prescription coverage. They are going to insist that the $500.00 drug is better for my condition. They might even be right about my condition. But they are most definitely not right about ME. That's my rent check and utility bills all in one go.

    suppose you have an FDA scientist who knows far more than a typical doctor about a new drug..... one of those "bureacrats"...

    or you have an FDA scientist who not only knows the mercury level in tuna but he knows the damage it can do and if the average consumer is clueless because that mercury level is not even required to be disclosed.

    "So I am maximizing my utility and it's not just about the money although that is a large part of it. The other negatives; refrigeration, self injection, weekly trips to the pharmacy have a monetary component but are mainly tradeoffs about convenience, pain, and convenience, respectively."

    you are for as far as you have information. but to assume you have "perfect" information is a stretch for sure...

    "So if I choose to spend money fixing a beloved pet or time in rehabbing them afterward, these are not necessarily irrational decisions. Because whether they are irrational or not depends on what I find important and what I have the means to do. And this is information that is not available to the outside observer whatever his credentials."

    and I totally agree but this violates the economic theory that you will only make economically rational choices using perfect information - and the reality is you do not but it's the underpinnings of why a free market is "efficient" and bureaucrats who cannot ever have equivalent "perfect info" can never do as well as individuals.

    People do not make economically rational decisions 100% of the time.

    in fact the whole idea of what is "rational" is subjective.

  • LarryGross

    and me...less... ;-)

  • Doom22015

    I never said private decision makers wrer always correct. You are trying to set up a straw man there to knock down. I believe that nobody is as rational as they might want to believe, and nobody has approached infallibility.

    I might be more in favor of big govt spending programs if I hadn't seen such things close-up during more than 3 decades of my career.

    Btw I am fine with privately owned roads and with dynamic pricing of tolls. And also btw I do not consider myself a libertarian. Are you going for another straw man there?

  • LarryGross

    no straw man - we both agree that decisions, individual, private and govt are not infallible and I'll agree that spending your money is different than spending someone else's money and i'll stipulate further that competition and a profit motive tends to sharpen the decisions.

    I too have seen lots of waste in Govt but I've seen it in private industry also.

    I actually LIKE private ownership and dynamically priced products and services including parking, roads, electricity, phones, water/sewer, etc because I do believe that
    some people are influenced by costs on a per item basis... but many Libertarian types I've talked with don't care for tolls for roads.. they consider them "already paid for" and thus should not be sold to private interests... to operate and charge tolls to pay for operation and maintenance..

    I just think the basic premise of rational choice does not take into account that people value dollars for different purposes - differently - instead of equating all dollars to be the same and the goal is to maximize what you get for your dollars - all the time no matter what.

    and we know ... there are many, many examples where this is simply not true as a good number of people give away their money to churches... with absolutely no assurance that it will be spent efficiently nor benefit them economically.

    people do this.

  • zeeb

    Satisfaction is not defined by pretty much any economist in terms of monetary gain. It's really odd that you assert this; that's why there's so many responses. Economic theory is not a net present value analysis. NPV and dollar-denominated tools can be used in quantifying utility from an action, but economists don't say those are the only ones that are valid or that should be followed.

    You've got it in your head that economic decisions are dollar denominated. They are not -- this is econ 101. Economics recognize satsifaction and utility in which dollar amounts are only a piece of the decision making process.

    Warren's decision to spend on Snuggles is exactly an example of economic thinking, not a counterexample.

    As far as the libertarian thing goes, it is not at all contrary to libertarian philosophy. It's exactly about free choice, not using some outside algorithm or rule to make decisions for us. Using an outside framework that applies to everyone sounds much more like a government-mandated model, not an individual decision.

  • LarryGross

    let me ask then - with supply and demand .. or say the minimum wage - what is the denomination then?

    how do we differentiate those different things besides money with a supply / demand model?

    If it is as you say - doesn't that pretty much destroy the theory of supply/demand if not monetized?

    doesn't supply / demand reduce all these things to dollars only?

    can you show me an example of a supply/demand situation where dollars are not the denomination value?

    these are honest questions.. and perhaps do reflect ignorance..

  • obloodyhell

    }}} Put a price on that.

    Fitty Cent!!
    :-D

    It's your money to do with as you please, you rich bastard!! Come the revolution, you will not have such frivolous funds to spend as you will, and instead will be properly using them to pay for Farheed Johnson's XBox. How dare you spend so much money on a pet, when it should be pacifying the poor!!

  • markm

    Most dogs aren't that heavy or strong; coyotes are about mid-size for a working dog. Furthermore, most of them weren't bred to fight other canids. And it would not be a fair fight one on one, but a circle of coyotes dashing in to attack the exposed rear and sides.

    A coyote pack probably could bring even your pit bull down, with several of them worrying at his flanks while he was killing one - but he'd kill or maim more than one coyote. The victory would not be worth the cost. It's more likely the rest of the pack would decide they'd made a mistake and flee, leaving a wounded dog with a dead coyote locked in his jaws.

    If you have coyotes around and leave this dog chained up in the back yard, I just hope they're smart enough to figure out the odds and stay out of his reach.

  • markm

    Can you comprehend the difference between YOUR money and MY money? You are free to spend YOUR money on the poor. When you want taxes spent on the poor, you are also spending MY money, whether I agree or not.

    Here's another definition for "liberal": does not see the difference between St Francis of Assissi and Robin Hood.