By William Thomas

Years ago, I wrote a book about my dog Jake entitled The Dog Rules (Damn Near Everything!) which, by the way of sales in publishing terms, went right through the “Woof!  Woof!”  In making the rounds of talk shows and public readings, traveling with me on the book tour, speaking engagements and humane society fundraisers, my dog significantly enhanced my income.

Jake dropped the book in Mike Bullard’s’ lap on CTV’s Open Mike With Mike Bullard and although he’d done better interviews, I want to make it very clear, Jake had nothing to do with the demise of the show.  He also gave the food table quite a going over in the green room much to the horror of Mikes’ producers.

On a 30-minute special on TVO’s Steve Paiken Show, Jake inadvertently got drunk at the bar with an ex-Ottawa Roughrider linebacker at Captain Jack’s Bar in the Beaches area.  They cut that part.

At 6:30 a.m. on Breakfast TV, the staff was noticeably grumpy and a junior producer with an accusing look finally told me somebody had eaten all the donuts.

“Well it wasn’t me,” I said.  “Who can eat breakfast when it’s still dark out?”  It was then that I noticed the ring of icing sugar around my dog’s mouth.  Okay, so Jake pretty much ate his way through the book tour.

But food, travel and non-refundable pet deposits (they definitely need a better term for this) at hotels all add up to some serious cash. Not to mention the medical expenses for two new knees in his back legs which tops anything I’ve ever billed our healthcare system for.

So I totaled up all my costs of having an expensive but extremely lovable, wage-earning dog, and I sent them off to Revenue Canada, which tried to dodge the issue by immediately changing its name to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

In a unprecedented fit of logic, the word came back that all expenses which help earn income are tax deductible.  Wow!  My dog turned out to be the cutest business write-off in the history of taxation.  All pets lower our stress levels, mine lowered my taxes,

Apparently we made a little bit of tax history, me and Jake, with the ruling appearing on the CCRA’s website under Pet Related Expense Document number 2003-0039147 Income Tax Act 18 (1) (a) 18 (1) (h).

I can’t tell you how proud Jake and I were to have created more paperwork for the government.  That year we changed the Income Tax Act!  Next year we’d overturn it!  Yes!  Woof!  Woof!

Columnist Arthur Drache of the Financial Post wrote a piece about the ruling and had a lot of fun at our expense.  (Jake sued him for libel. Me, I thought it was quite hilarious.)

According to the column, expenses for assistance dogs have always been deductible and you can claim the cost of transporting pets when you move.  (No, horses don’t qualify as household pets.  Somebody already tried. Also, you cannot deduct airfare for parakeets.)

To quote Arthur Drache:  “What made this situation unusual is that the dog was bought as a household pet and that was its primary role, at least until the book was written.  CCRA took the position that the individuals, from the time the book was written, had to determine how much of the dog’s time was spent as a pet and how much in business activities.

“Once this was determined, the appropriate portion of food and veterinarian bills could be deducted. Further, when the dog traveled on business, the full cost of traveling expenses, including fares, food and lodging, could be claimed as well as the ‘incremental’ cost of veterinarian fees.

“The ruling went to some pains to point out that while meals consumed by the human partner would be subject to the statutory limitations of 50 percent of the cost, that provision did not apply to animals, so the full cost of the dog’s meal could be treated as tax deductible.

“I wondered as I did when food for guide dogs was first made deductible, whether the tax authorities would have a problem if the dog ate filet mignon and its owner occasionally stole a few mouthfuls of its food.”

Ah, Arthur if you don’t mind – me and my tax deduction here, the one with the beautiful ears and the bushy tail – we’ll do the pet humour.  Okay?

Frankly I’ve never seen my accountant so excited. But then again, he’s an accountant.  I could hardly get his attention on this matter as he ran off to buy a dog.

Arthur Drache ended his column with the line:  “This gives a whole new perspective on the phrase, ‘it’s a dog’s life.’”  And a dang good one it was, Arthur.  Double dang good indeed!

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