When you think of great minds in personal finance you may think of Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, or Jean Chatzky. You probably don’t think of a dog, but perhaps you should.
A few months ago my dog started doing something I had only read about in children’s books… burying dog biscuits in our yard. I remember the first time I saw him do it. I grabbed my wife and exclaimed, “Look at Jake! He’s being a dog!” (Sometimes, I’m not a wordsmith.) For a while, I thought he was just being a stupid dog. This past weekend when he retrieved one of his buried bones, something in my mind clicked.
Biscuits are like money for my dog. He was saving the biscuit for a rainy day when biscuits aren’t readily available. He’s learned to do what so many Americans have difficulty doing… passing up instant gratification for future benefits. I think this is noteworthy for two reasons:
- As my wife reminds me from time to time, “he’s a freaking dog.” (I give him more human-like privileges than most dog owners.) We didn’t train him to bury bones and he’s never seen another dog do it. Saving appears to be hard-wired into his brain… why do we have such difficulty with it?
- The second reason I find it noteworthy is that there’s significant risk and no reward to burying a bone for later. The bone may get washed away by rain or stolen by zealous squirrel. The bone itself will even likely have less “value” to a dog as it will be covered in dirt. When people save their money in banks, it comes with some security (FDIC) and they are rewarded with interest. People should be the ones doing the saving, not dogs.
This isn’t the only way he saves. Jake loves food – he’ll eat anything and everything and ask me for more. However, we found that if we give him food and leave the house, he won’t eat until we get back. I think his rationale is that there’s no guarantee we are coming back, so he better conserve his food until the providers of his food are back.
Perhaps Fox should create a television show that asks, “are smarter than a dog.”