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This is Cecil. Cecil ate $4,000

‘This is Cecil. He has never done anything bad in his life until he ate $4,000.’

Clayton Law pulled $4,000 out of his joint savings account last month. He and his wife were having a fence installed at their home in Pittsburgh, and the workers asked to be paid in cash.

After returning from the bank with a sealed envelope full of $100 and $50 bills, he set the money on a kitchen counter, intending to stash it away. But he never got the chance.

Thirty minutes later, Law was stunned to find tiny pieces of chewed-up bills strewn across the floor. In a panic, he hollered for his wife, Carrie Law.

“He was shouting, ‘Cecil ate $4,000!’” Carrie recalled about that Dec. 8 afternoon.

“I ran in, thinking I had to have heard him wrong, but when I saw the mess, there was no doubt,” she said. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Cecil had really done it.”

Cecil is a 7-year-old goldendoodle that has lived with the Laws since he was a puppy. For five years, he had the run of the house until the arrival of the Laws’ son, Rory, now 2.

“Cecil’s a goofy guy and he’s very particular — you could leave a steak on the table, and he wouldn’t touch it because he’s not food motivated,” said Carrie, 33. “But apparently he is money motivated.”

Cecil had not been interested in things on the counter in the past, nor had he torn up items that were up there.

“He has never really done anything bad before, so we were more shocked than angry,” added Clayton, 34. “We couldn’t believe it. We looked at each other and said, ‘What are we going to do?’”

While Cecil skulked away to take a nap on the living room sofa, the Laws called their vet to see if they should bring him in to be checked out for eating the stack of cash.

“Given his size of 100 pounds, we were told as long he was eating and drinking and going to the bathroom, he should be fine,” Clayton said. “If he were a small dog, it would have been a different story.”

He and Carrie then decided to salvage what they could.

They gathered up the torn bills and were able to piece together about $1,500, Carrie said. She then called the bank and told a manager what had happened.

“I felt like a kid who says, ‘The dog ate my homework,’” she said. “I was surprised when they said they’d seen similar things happen multiple times — that maybe dogs liked the particular smells on money.”

The manager explained that the bank would take back any bills that had been taped together with the full serial numbers visible on the front and back, Carrie added. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing also generally requires that at least half of each bill is salvageable.

“Cecil was sitting on the sofa full of $2,500, and we knew there was only one way to get that money back,” Carrie said.

Late that first night, Cecil vomited up a couple of torn hundreds, Clayton said, but he and Carrie would have to be patient and summon their humor to retrieve the rest of the bills.

Clayton intrepidly donned a mask and gloves, grabbed a bunch of plastic bags and accompanied Cecil on his backyard rounds over the next two days as the dog relieved himself.

He and Carrie then sifted through the dog’s droppings and washed the torn bits of bills with dish soap in a utility sink.

“I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve laundered money, but there is apparently a first time for everything,” Carrie said.

“Here we were, waiting for the dog to go to the bathroom so we could get the rest,” Clayton added. “We had to laugh at the absurdity of it.”

He and Carrie decided that if they could find humor in the situation, others would, too.

The Laws made a video with the photos they’d snapped of their dog’s $4,000 meal, then posted it on Instagram.

“This is Cecil,” it begins. “He has never done anything bad in his life until he ate $4,000.”

The video of them washing money and patiently piecing it together like a jigsaw puzzle has been liked more than 175,000 times.

After the Pittsburgh City Paper wrote about what happened, Carrie said she snuggled up next to Cecil and read the piece to him as a bedtime story.

“We couldn’t be mad at him — he’s a very lovable dog,” she said. “People often tell us there’s a human trapped inside our dog.”

She and Clayton were able to retrieve about $1,800 from Cecil’s backyard deposits, boosting their total to $3,550.

Carrie said she plans to send the washed remnants they couldn’t piece together to the Treasury Department, in the hope they might get some of it back.

If not, the Laws said it’s the price they must pay for a family story they can pass down to their son.

“We’ve kept at least one of the torn-up bills so we can do a piece of artwork and frame it to commemorate the entire situation,” Carrie said.

“Not that we’d ever forget,” she quickly added.


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