Saturday, 5 September 2009

Puli Economics

We’re just home from a short break in our old home in Kehl, just into Germany outside Strasbourg in Eastern France. We always have a great time there. One major pleasure is that each visit is an object lesson in how poor stereotypes can be in describing people. The sheer warmth and kindness of the population in Kehl never cease to surprise us, and even more amazing is how laid back they are, undermining the strict formality, the bureaucratic insistence on order, which tends to be associated with the image of Germans abroad. In Kehl, we’ve never seen it.

The dominant experience of this trip, though, was the surgery on Janka. She is our Puli, our rasta dog. I’m delighted that I may have been premature in my last post on her subject when I attributed her difficulties in walking to precocious aging. Our vet in Kehl identified her problem as actually being caused by torn cruciate ligaments in both knees. He and his wife, working as an excellent team, treated one of the knees during this trip.

Janka: Puli or Jamaican Shepherd?

Yesterday, only four days after the operation, Janka was beginning to move properly again. She had all four feet on the ground when walking, instead of carrying the one on which she had had the operation, and she even managed to run a few steps. Of course, she has a lot more rehabilitation in front of her – it sounds as though we shall be taking her for water therapy, would you believe, in which she’ll be made to walk on an underwater treadmill to rebuild muscle – but the progress has been spectacular already. Above all, it was great to see her tail wagging at full tilt again yesterday – she seems to have recovered her good spirits.

The experience also highlighted an interesting point about economics. Janka only cost us 400 euros. I have to admit we bought her in Hungary, the homeland of the Puli – though only thanks to Americans, who kept the breed going when it was in danger of dying out in the old country – and had we bought her in the West she might have cost three times more. Anyway, let’s take the 400 euro price as our benchmark, and call it 1 Puli.

The operation, carried out in Kehl, cost 800 euros or two Pulis.

We were reticent about having the operation there knowing that she would have a fourteen hour car trip back to England within a few days, so we checked with our English vet. They could certainly have done the surgery for us and provided all sorts of follow-up. The operation alone, though, would have cost £1700, nearly 2000 euros or five Pulis. We thought long and hard about it – seconds and seconds – and opted for the vets we know and trust, who would charge us 40% of the English price.

That reasoning is for only one knee and once this once has recovered, she’ll need the other one done. Add a little extra for medication and aftercare, and we reach a total price of four to five Pulis for treatment in Germany and nearer eleven in England.

So why don’t we just put Janka down and have five new Pulis instead? Or even, assuming we based ourselves on English prices, eleven new Pulis?

Because, of course, none of those Pulis would be Janka.

Which goes to demonstrate that there is no inherent law to determine price. What matters is what the market will bear. And the market is made up of individual customers making individual purchasing decisions.

In any case, I have no idea where we would put eleven Pulis.


Mark Reynolds said...

The math never does work that way. I just received a sad email from my Dad the other day - my sister's dog - an English Lab, only 5 years old - had turned ill, been diagnosed with cancer, and put down in the space of 48 hours. Completely unexpected, and my parents and sister are in something of shock, as Sonny was a real part of the family.
I'm extremely glad that Janka's prognosis is good, and she's worth at least 12 Pulis.

Awoogamuffin said...

I'm really glad Janka is getting better. That got me quite upset...

But wow, pets are expensive!

Awoogamuffin said...

Though worth every penny, obviously