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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Posted: September 8, 2011

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

By Elizabeth Creith

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"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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