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warren buffett and fractional ownership of puppies

25 May 2011

When I was young, my family bought half of a cow name Polly.

Her owners had been unable to entice a steer onto a truck destined for an abattoir. Polly was put on the truck to lure it up the ramp. After the steer succumbed to her charms, Polly left on a one-way trip, departing what had been until then an idyllic life among grass and wild flowers.

That’s how about 300 lbs of Polly ended up dismantled as steaks, roasts, hamburger and short ribs in our freezer.

Polly was my first experience (albeit enabled by a butcher) with fractional ownership.

Note: If you’ve never heard of it, fractional ownership is owning a percentage of an asset that is either generally expensive or is something that you don’t use very often. Timeshare vacation properties are probably the most common example. The definition of “very often” can vary, though; it took almost three years for my family to eat all of Polly.

Warren Buffett Likes To Share, Too

Tiger Woods and NetJets

does tiger woods have to share custody of his dog with his ex-wife?

Nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett is acknowledged by most people as a pretty smart guy, someone who knows what does and does not make financial sense.

Warren thinks fractional ownership makes sense. His Berkshire Hathaway empire owns NetJets, a provider of fractional aircraft ownership. Cessna Citations, Dassault Falcons and Gulfstreams aren’t cheap and private jet usage requirements can fluctuate. Thus the business opportunity Buffet acknowledged in 1998 when Berkshire bought NetJets.

What Does This Have to Do With Dogs?

Dogs are similar to jets. They’re expensive. Customer usage requirements (meaning time with them) fluctuate, particularly if you travel.

What if you applied the concept of fractional ownership to dogs?

What would Warren have to say about owning half a German Shepherd? From a financial perspective, he’d probably offer that it makes sense.

Introducing Dog Co-Parenting

If you work out of the house during the day, have evening activities (like Parent Council responsibilities) a couple of times per week, and get out on weekends (attending artisanal beer festivals or youth sports), give yourself a 9 out of 10. Congratulations, you’re a prime candidate for co-parenting a dog.

What kind of person would own half (or even a third) of a dog?

Someone who likes dogs but not enough to keep them locked up in a house day/night/weekends, or doesn’t want to support the growing trend of luxury pet accommodations where it is $30-70 per night to house your friend. Or someone who wants to go to an NFL game and tailgate afterwards.

Are you this kind of person?

  • You like to save money
  • You don’t want your dog to hang out alone too much
  • You’ve got some friends/neighbors, old college roommate living nearby whom you still trust

Just Like Shared Custody, Only Better

Rikers Island Prison

fractional ownership avoids sticking your dog in here when you’ve got to go attend an out-of-town wedding

If you’re divorced with shared custody of your kids, fractional pet ownership is a no-brainer. You’re already used to dropping off and picking them up from the Ex, or having every second weekend free. Responsibility and freedom and dog-ownership intertwined!

That’s what fractional ownership of your next dog, say, a great dane puppy, for example, could deliver for you. You’d have all the slobbers, the Petco fidelity card, the shed hair in the sofa, and the chewed table legs you need for a full and complete life. You wouldn’t miss a thing.

You’d also be able to swap off when you were heading to Tahoe for a long ski weekend, or to Las Vegas to reenact scenes from The Hangover. You could apply the saved kennel fees to your lift pass. Your dog wouldn’t be housed in a canine version of Rikers Island prison. Your dog would have company and maybe even share a bed with a primary schooler.

And you’d be sharing your dog with someone whose company you probably enjoy, unlike your ex-spouse.

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