I have always had an iron clad rule in my home: we do NOT get dogs from PET SHOPS. I left no doubt on this rule – no room for discussion. I was secure in the knowledge that, as acting head of the household, my word would be law. With the respect and esteem that my children had for me, I just knew that no one would break this solemn pact.
Are you with me? Good.
I even went so far as to make them take an oath with their right hands on a vet bill that they wouldn’t even ENTER a pet store lest they lose their minds and their will and succumb to the temptation of a caged puppy. I was certain they wouldn’t break this sacred oath.
You know where I’m going, don’t you…..
There is always that one child…. the one that likes to test the bonds of parental authority. The one who flounts convention and hurdles the constraints of house rules. Actually she’s a great daughter….. But even as a child she liked to test the limits of the restrictions. She was also the master of the understatement. When she would come and ask me for a band aid, I would need to go see if she really required a tourniquet, or if a simple ambulance trip would suffice. (She got this from her Grandfather, but that is a story for another day) So it is not too surprising that I felt a pang of unease when she came home one summer day and said “Mom, I saw the cutest puppy in a pet store today! What would you have done if I’d brought him home?” I cocked an eye at her, but her arms were empty and I couldn’t hear an extra set of breathing, so I threw caution to the wind and considered my reply…. “well, I wouldn’t have killed you….” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!! Wrong answer!!!
Maybe a week or so later, I came home at lunchtime to feed the four legged family and found both my daughters hovering in the dining room with what my Dad would have termed “shit eating grins” on their faces. You know the look. I just knew. I literally said “where is he”, when RIGHT ON CUE, a fuzzy face, bright eyes and two paws popped up on my knee and a happy little face smiled right at me. Duncan had arrived.
Never one to fight a losing battle, I acknowledged defeat and lifted the little newbie into my lap. The girls buzzed around telling me how much “we needed him!” The words “like a hole in the head” ran through my mind but I kept my mouth shut and let them gush. My daughter told me how she had called the store so many times to see if he’d been purchased, but apparently while the puppies around him came and went Duncan was left behind. Fate? Prophetic? Who knows. He was ours now. He had found a sucker… oops, home. My daughter’s boyfriend had gone in and haggled over the price (the little guy had been there way too long already). A bargain was struck and the pup was secured.
Duncan left the pet store with an iron clad health guarantee – as well as a double ear infection and severe case of worms. He was the poster child for why pet stores should not sell puppies. He had been taken from his mother way too soon. His medical care had been grossly inadequate. He was behind on his vaccinations despite assurances that he had everything he needed. He was a mass of insecurities and fears. He had been kept in a cage so long that it was difficult to housebreak him. During his infrequent walks, he was on a cement sidewalk outside the store. Because of this, he was afraid of grass. He could barely be persuaded to put his paws on it at all. The same was true of fresh air and the outdoors in general. He still gets carsick. While I realize many dogs have this problem, most of them wait until the car is running and has left the driveway. As soon as Duncan’s paws hit the seat, the foaming commences. By the time the key slides into the ignition, he is in full froth.
Duncan has proved to be a special little fellow in every possible nuance of that word. He is sweet, silly, very eager to please. In obedience school, he learned surprisingly quickly, although he is still timid and slightly high strung with other animals, strangers, and noises. He runs happily out into the garden with the other boys now, and stays on the grass for at least 45 seconds before hauling ass back onto the deck and jumping convulsively up and down at the door until we let him back in. He plays frantically with the gang in the house, and then suddenly realizes what he’s doing and that he’s perhaps having fun. He then immediately and quickly seeks the highest ground possible (my end table is a favorite) and puts himself on a time out. He’s made friends with the cats, and the dogs all love him – with the exception of Lou, our senior Basset Hound, who hasn’t forgiven me yet for giving Duncan houseroom. Lou has added this to his list of grievances against me which he airs from time to time (he is the master of the stink eye). Like my father, Lou is also a story that needs to be told another time.
I have since reiterated the pet store law around here, adding the codicil that no one is even to drive past a mall that might have a pet store in it! Any reputable breeder will not sell their puppies through a store. They want to meet the prospective parents and screen them thoroughly. The sire and dam have health screenings, and one or both of them are on the premises. These puppies come with a REAL health guarantee and come from a real home. They are bred for health, beauty, companionship, service. So called breeders that sell through a store, breed for one reason…money. The dogs are in-bred, the mother and the puppies are badly treated. The words “AKC puppies” and “health guarantee” mean nothing from a pet store. It would be better to adopt from a shelter, rescue, or if a particular breed puppy is wanted, find a reputable breeder and go through the process.
It’s three years now that Duncan has been with us and he is one of the family. I am very glad that he came home to us – he is a little love and it is rewarding to see how healthy and happy he is now.
As an added precaution after my new set of rules, I’ve fitted my daughter with one of those electric fence collars used on dogs. If she goes anywhere near a pet store, the collar will zap the heck out of her…
That should do the trick……