Posted: November 5, 2013, 9:50 a.m. EDT
By Elizabeth Creith
Several times we have had to hire help, and the job of interviewing has always fallen on my shoulders. I love the whole hiring process. It’s my favorite thing in the world—right after slamming my hand in the car door.
It may astonish you to know this, but the reason a lot of people want to work in a pet store is because they love animals. It’s almost the first thing out of their mouths, and it often doesn’t matter if I’ve asked why they want to work for me.
"I'm so excited,” they’ll say. "I really want to work here. I just love animals!”
"How do you feel about poop?” is my standard response.
Guinea pig having a bad hair day. iStock/Thinkstock
I know this is a huge surprise, but nobody loves poop. Go figger, eh? But a great deal of the pet trade is about poop. In fact, a lot of dog food brands claim their product helps your dog produce less poop.
Almost every problem in the aquarium end of things—if you’ll excuse the expression—boils down to managing water quality, largely a factor of poop and its breakdown. Kitty litter? Bird cage liners? Various paper and wood-shaving and recycled-whatever beddings? They’re about controlling the distribution, disposal and odor of you-know-what.
The fact is, metabolism and mathematics being what they are, there will be more poop than animals. Anyone should be able to expect this.
For example, if you have a 1-pound guinea pig, chances are that you’ll be buying a 4-pound bag of feed every week or two. Does your guinea pig grow 4 pounds in that time? Does she even get 1 pound heavier for every 4 pounds of feed? No, she does not, and a good thing, too, I say. On a good day a guinea pig is an appetite at one end and poop at the other and a bad hair day in between. Imagine that at 50 pounds! No, most of that 4-pound bag of feed becomes, in the natural course of things, poop, another good thing.
In a pet store, there are lots of animals, which leads to lots of animal food. Put food into animals, and poop comes out. Ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, mice, bearded dragons, snakes, pac-man frogs, discus, danios, polypterus and bubble-eyed goldfish—all of them eating and pooping. Sometimes it seems they do both nonstop. That’s why we do water changes in the fish tanks every three days and go through two bales of pine shavings a week.
And guess what? They never flush! They never say "Excuse me,” or even look embarrassed about the smell. "Eww!” is not in their vocabulary.
So when we hire people, whether or not they love animals is secondary—maybe even lower than that. My ideal employee is not the perky, ponytailed 17-year-old who coos over the baby mice and just loves animals.
But if there’s anyone out there who actually enjoys shovelling you-know-what, have I got a job for you!
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