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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Posted: September 8, 2011

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

By Elizabeth Creith


"Do you have any puppies or kittens?"

In our first year of business, we heard it several times a week.

"No, we don't," we said, "If you want a mutt, go to the Humane Society. If you want a purebred, you should go to a registered breeder. What kind of dog did you want?"

"Oh, I don't want to buy a dog," was the inevitable response, "I just want to look."

It's a good decision, keeping puppies out of pet stores. Aside from the puppy-mill concerns, they have a short shelf-life. From birth to 13 weeks is when they learn what their world will be like, and the connections they make then quite literally shape their brains. Who wants a puppy that has learned its life is a glass-fronted box with people outside who only want to look? Past those 13 weeks, a store puppy, poor thing, is just another candidate for the Humane Society.

They're all mutts, too, with fancy names and prices to match. It amazes me that people will pay $600 for a poo-dog: yorkie-poos, cockapoos, golden doodles (which David, the soul of tact, calls "poo retrievers"), and whatever you call that shih tzu-poodle cross. Can you even say that in polite company?

But for a short time, in November 2007, everybody assumed we were selling dogs—or at least, one dog.

We've had a dog in the store ever since we opened. When our big black mutt, Garm died in 2007, I got Sky, an eight-week-old blue merle Australian shepherd bitch.

Since Sky was going to be a store dog, I wanted her in the store with me from day one. I thought of her as staff; others saw her as merchandise.

"How much is the puppy?" It was Sky's first day in the store. She was leashed to me, and both she and I were having trouble learning to coordinate our movements. She was confused and I was harried, and neither of us was expecting someone to try to buy her.

"She's not for sale," I said.

A few minutes later someone else came over.

"What an adorable puppy! How much is she?"

"She's not for sale. She's mine."

And so it went, five or six times a day. I couldn't blame the people who asked—Sky really was adorable. Then came the troublemaker.

"How much is the dog?" he asked.

"She's not for sale," I said.

"Well, then, how come you have her in the store?"

"She's my dog."

He looked around.

"This is a pet store. If she's in here, she should be for sale. How much?"

He didn't look like someone who'd left his brains in his other pants, but I had my doubts.

"Look," I said, slowly and clearly, "she's my dog. She's not for sale."

"If you have a puppy in here, she should be for sale. It's a pet store. I'm going to talk to the city about you."

"Go right ahead if it makes you happy," I said. He walked out, muttering. As he left, a woman came up the aisle, shaking her head.

"Was he for real?" she asked.

I shrugged. "Who knows?"

"Takes all kinds. I wouldn't want to be the person who served him in a clothing store. He might just rip the shirt right off you." She leaned down to pet Sky, who was wiggling and wagging her stub of a tail.

"Cute puppy," she said, and looked up at me with a half-smile. "I guess she's not for sale."

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Reader Comments
I will get copies of this article becasue it puts into words what many of us feel. We just had a "christian" pet store open here that is selling very young puppies..we are picketing it soon.
toni carter, rogers, AR
Posted: 9/12/2011 3:41:50 PM
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