I think it’s appropriate that the dog food I buy for my Beagle-Terrier mix, Cooper, contains the word “royal” and that there’s a lanky foxhound wearing a crown on the bag. In my mind, Cooper is royalty.
He has several cozy beds to choose from, his toys outnumber the pairs of tennis shoes my husband owns and, the other day at Whole Foods, I spent five minutes deciding which color poop bags to buy. I went with the festive multi-colored pack.
Friends tell me I spoil my dog and that I treat him like a person (he’s not?), but when I compare myself to some celebrities and other high-rollers, it seems like Cooper leads a somewhat deprived existence.
Take singer Dusty Springfield. When she died in 1999, her will stipulated that her cat Nicholas’ bed be lined with Dusty’s nightgown, that Dusty’s recordings be played each night at Nicholas’ bedtime and that Nicholas be fed only imported baby food.
Leona Helmsley, who died in 2007, famously left a cool $12 million to her now deceased Maltese terrier, Trouble, much to the horror of her grandsons. Unhappy with Grandma’s stinginess, the grandkids contested the will and ended up knocking Trouble’s fortune down to only $6 million.
Even the late Queen Mother left $4.5 million to 150 cattle and sheep, making sure that they’d be taken care of for years to come.
Makes that royally named kibble I buy my sweet Cooper seem inconsiderate. And I feel like a cheapskate compared to Oprah and Betty White, whose pets’ net worth will be a combined $35 million when either of the megastars die.
Linda Niedweske, an attorney who does pro bono work for Lawyers in Defense of Animals says that, in a perfect world, everyone with a pet would have a pet trust.
“It’s an easy thing to do,” she advises, explaining that while a person is healthy they name a trustee to oversee the money, designate who is to care for the pet and have everything enforced by a judge. “That way, if a person becomes disabled or they die and their will is probated, the pet isn’t left hanging in limbo. There is someone who has committed to caring for the pet.”
Caring for a pet is one thing. Being a German Shepherd who poses with bathing suit models is entirely another, which is the drooly situation Gunther IV finds himself in. He sits at the top of the five richest pets in the world list, which I’ve compiled for your reading pleasure:
1. Gunther IV
His name is Gunther IV, but you can call him Sir. Not only did his owner Karlotta Liebenstein make sure Gunther’s father, Gunther III, was the sole inheritor of her fortune, she also stipulated that Gunther IV get his $373 million share, should anything happen to his dad, which it did. When Karlotta died, Gunther III followed Liebenstein into the hereafter the next month, leaving Gunther IV with enough money to buy his own rockstar mansion, which he did. In July 2000, agents on Sir’s behalf snagged Madonna’s Miami villa for about $15 million.
2. Toby Rimes
Ella Wendal loved her poodles so much that she named them both Toby Rimes. Toby Rimes #1 could have shouted “Treats on me!” at the dog park, considering the $30 million he inherited in 1931. The second Toby Rimes, who descended from the first Ms. Rimes, not only could have treated for Greenies, he could have bought the company that makes them, thanks to his $92 million dollar fortune.
Oh Gigoo. Was it your golden chicken beak and lovely feathers that prompted your owner, publishing mogul Miles Blackwell, to bequeath you an $18 million nest egg? Blackwell changed his will after his wife died in 2000 and left everything to his beloved clucker.
Poor rich person Ben Rea. He was the British recluse that left a boatload of money to various cat shelters and an astounding $13 million to his special cat, Blackie, whose whereabouts are now unknown. But I guess you could say, poor rich person Ben Rea’s family. The hermit millionaire didn’t leave a cent to any of them.
Owner Maria Assunta, the widow of a childless Italian property tycoon, left $13 million to her cat, Tommasso, who was rescued from the streets of Rome where he rummaged through garbage cans. Now, living in a secretly located villa with Assunta’s nurse as the trustee of his millions, he is forced to be on the down-low. You’d be mysterious too, if you had con men after your fortune, which is what news sources have reported.
Now I feel better about giving Cooper smoked gouda when he looks at me with those soulful eyes of his.