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Nothing to bank on but biscuits

What I suspected about banks has proved true. These days they will do anything to get customers.

One morning last week, my dog received a letter from the biggest bank in the state offering him twelve percent on his money. If you doubt this I will show you the letter, clearly addressing him by his given and family names at the correct house. There is no mistake. I know that banks are squeezed between the high interest rates of the Federal Reserve and the low rate mortgages they were issuing a few years ago, so I try not to be judgmental about this ploy to snare my schnoodle (front half poodle, with his schnauzer ancestry in the arrears).

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Over the past few years my childlike faith in banks has eroded somewhat. When I first moved to this small New Hampshire town it didn't boast a single bank. Now we have three branch banks, and choosing among them was a puzzlement. They offered the same low interest and those checking accounts with monthly reports that defied balancing. Finally I settled on two banks, one for my personal account and the other for business.

Having been brought up to believe that banks are infallible, it took a long time before I waked to the fact that all flubs were not mine. When banks make mistakes they are awesome. One bank had a new bookkeeper with a Robin Hood turn of mind. She switched my small account with the local supermarket account, and I ended up with a monthly balance that made me feel like an heiress until I checked with the manager.

Finally I decided it was less confusing to do all my checking at a single bank. The question was - which? Each bank was situated in the center of town, the tellers were equally friendly and informal (some knitted in their cubicles), and each bank had a drive-up window. This was essential, for at drive-up windows I get what is never dispensed inside the bank. Dog biscuits. Whenever one of my dogs is in the car, the drive-up teller dips her hand into a dog biscuit box and comes up with a treat. My animals are so enchanted by this that we have, at times, had to pull a dog out of the deposit drawer.

It was hard to choose between the two banks until we discovered that one offered better biscuits and more of them. So I switched my personal account to that bank and told it why. It now knows if its management economizes on dog biscuits at least one customer will take a walk (with dogs).

Word must have gotten around to the financial market that the way to healthier bank assets is through canine depositors, hence the letter to my schnoodle. Or perhaps they simply got his name through the phone book. Since I have two houses, at one of which my art and writing students reside, it was necessary to put the teaching telephone in another name or people would be calling me at the wrong house. The telephone company representative suggested that I use the name of a member of the family. All my dependents are four-legged , so it remained only to pick the one who has both a given and family name. This was the schnoodle, and he was duly listed with two extensions.

I did insist that the phone bills be sent directly to me, but the telephone company computer must have had other ideas, for the bills keep coming in the schnoodle's name. At first this was offputting for the mail carrier, but now he hails the schnoodle with great glee when there is a letter for him.

I don't object to the dog's investing his capital in this out-of-town bank if he chooses. Right now his assets include a fine custom-made doghouse inherited from our malamute and one rather nice blue collar. We all want to raise our families with good saving habits, so I will not hold him back. I am even willing to mail in his deposits and absorb the cost of postage myself.

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It's probably time he got an allowance anyhow. He performs his chores without complaint, cheerfully greeting my students and watching over the cats, who are prone to squabble. I figure this is worth about five dollars a week. Over the course of a year I compute that his twelve percent interest will amount to half a dozen boxes of biscuits, which isn't bad, provided the bank sends us a good brand. I suppose now my three other dogs will begin campaigning for their own allowances. Becky will probably go for the twelve percent, although she used to be the old-fashioned sort who believed in hiding her hoard. A good portion of Becky's biscuits got buried in the holes she digs, located where only she knows. Last year when a backhoe came in to dig around our millstream Becky broke into a fury of barking, and kept trying to chase the mammoth machine off our land. We couldn't figure why a normally friendly dog should become the Hound of the Baskervilles. Then one of the workers discovered they'd been picking up some of Becky's long-buried biscuits with the backhoe. I think that experience has sold her on banking her biscuits.

Today the postman delivered another letter to the schnoodle. A prestigious company would like to persuade him to invest in annuities. My neighbor up the road has been saying this country is going to the dogs. He doesn't know how far.

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