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When Business Comes Second, Behind Your Dog

At the close of her article, Pierce confesses, "I've spent more time in the kitchen cooking special meals for my dying dog than I spent cooking for the humans in the house -- and I know I am not alone. Crazy, maybe. But not alone."

I can sympathize with this perspective. Over the summer, it came time for my wife and me to put down not one, but two cats in the space of three months. Both pets had shared our home with us for over 10 years. I would have done just about anything to keep them alive -- except watch them suffer.

I've had plenty of time to get over it. I'm not over it.

But the real question here is how many business owners would go to the lengths that Apple did, sacrificing real bird-in-the-hand dollars for the intangible? Placed on the heartless scale of your company's revenue sheet, how much is your relationship with your pet really worth?

Now, to be perfectly cold about this, Fiona Apple is in a slightly different position than most entrepreneurs. She has sold many millions of albums and can sell a whole lot more completely by accident, as the headlines resulting from a September arrest in Texas on a drug possession charge illustrated.

Also, whether she intended it or not, her letter is at least partly a salvage operation, admirable from a clay-footed marketing perspective. By explaining in such honest, tender language, she will undoubtedly win new fans here while hopefully guaranteeing the loyalty of at least some those jilted by the cancelled shows.

In fact, given all the hoopla over the letter, it is quite possible she could, when she returns to touring, sell even more tickets, albums and merchandise than she would have done otherwise. Money lost in the short-term may be made up in the long.

We will never know, of course, because in the meantime Apple was nominated for a Grammy award for her January release, "The Idler Wheel . . . " (the full title is 23 words long). Win or lose, that publicity alone will ramp up sales.

All of this leads us back to the original question: Among readers of TheStreet, who would go to such lengths for a pet? What business owner would take such a personal gamble to be able to grieve alongside a dying, four-footed comrade?

We would love to hear from you in the comments for this article.

--Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park, N.J.

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