SARASOTA — Now that the legal wrangling has subsided, a tiny white symbol of power and money is living a dog's life indeed.
Trouble, the ornery Maltese belonging to Leona Helmsley, famously received a $12-million trust fund after Helmsley died in 2007. The so-called "Queen of Mean" left two of her grandchildren out of the same will.
Trouble's care eventually fell to Carl Lekic, general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel in Sarasota. Before she died, Helmsley spent several months a year at the hotel with Trouble, Lekic said in an affidavit.
Lekic argued Trouble didn't need $12-million to get by. She's old and has kidney problems — $2-million would sustain her for the next 10 years. In June, a court agreed.
So now Trouble resides in Sarasota, protected by guards and caretakers from death threats and fleas. Since the pooch can't speak for herself, we've pulled budget figures from Lekic's affidavit and imagined a day in her penny-pinching life.
To-do list, by Trouble:
1 Wake up in timely fashion so as to accommodate busy schedule.
2 Eat steamed fish, chicken and veggies on silver tray. Practically starve on ridiculous Oliver Twist food allowance of $1,200 per year.
3 Peer curiously at toilet. Contemplate difference between this and porcelain doggie bowl. Arrive at no conclusion.
4 Pursuant to bladder fullness, visit favorite tree for relief.
5 Gaze at photo of Mom on mantle. Recall happy times in comfortable, modest New York home. Determine that Mom had it right — taxes really are for the little people.
6 Search couch cushions for diamond collar. Where did I put that thing?
7 Review legal particulars of life-ruining court ruling. Cringe at thought of subsisting on miserable $2-million, as if I were a simpleton, rag-wearing mutt peasant. A commoner dog. An alley canine of the lowest low. A cat, even.
8 Bark at passing mail carrier. Or perhaps squirrel. Or, own shadow. Flexible on this matter.
9 Pick up squeak toy. Carry to end of room. Drop. Repeat.
10 Visit groomer, a steal at a measly $8,000 per year. Leave salon unsatisfied with new furstyle, but politely decline to speak up in angelic, humble manner. Adjust bangs in window reflection outside.
11 Snarl at security detail, $100,000 per year.
12 Return home. Catch rerun of Grey's Anatomy on Lifetime. Wonder why, for upwards of $18,000 a year, my veterinarian isn't as sexy as Dr. McSteamy. Consider transfer to Seattle Grace Pet Clinic.
13 Stare at tree frog floating in pool, weather permitting.
14 Search carpet for crumbs.
15 Climb into computer chair, call up Wikipedia. Investigate so-called "charities" to which the court so cavalierly redirected a chunk of my money. Look for legal loopholes. Also, seek organic biscuit recipes.
16 Read sordid tabloid accounts detailing how I bit people. Sadly, conclude there is no such thing as a private life when you are a public figure. Scroll for the latest on Lindsay Lohan.
17 Scratch leather of chair. Blame cat.
18 Balance checkbook, identifying $3,000 annual "miscellaneous" fund. Consider dipping into account to secure Cesar Milan for personal appearance at my 10th birthday party.
19 Beg for chunk of cheese.
20 Revisit tree.
Information from New York Magazine, the New York Daily News and an affidavit by Trouble's caretaker was used in this report. Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.