For Just $399 You Can Be Part of the Problem
As pretty much anyone who has spoken to me for more than a minute in the past few months knows, I have two dogs that I’m insanely in love with. I’ve always been very fond of dogs, and once my wife and I moved out of our apartment and into a house, I wanted to get one. Dogs are great, and I think every household is better with one making a mess of it.
All of that being said, I’m going to emphasize right now that I am not one of those screwballs who places the value of a dog’s life above, or even parallel with that of a human being. As a matter of fact, there is no organization that I hate more than PETA. Those guys are extremist idiots, and should be forced to wear muzzles. But, just because I value your human life over that of a lovely canine, I would most likely rather spend my time with my dogs than you. Actually, I’d probably prefer hanging out with any dog over your average schmo.
What is there not to love about dogs anyway? They’re usually happy, and they devote their entire lives to their owners. Having a dog is like having a very close friend who is always thrilled to see you. Their mental capacity doesn’t go to the realm of dramatic acting. When they go crazy when you get home, and start wagging their tail so furiously that they end up shaking the entire back half of their bodies back and forth, that’s not acting. They are genuinely that happy to see you.
It’s this love and appreciation for dogs that makes my daily drive to work so irritating. I’m irritated because I’ve been seeing the same guy in a puppy outfit on the side of the road every day, holding a sign that reads “Puppies $399.”
I’m irritated for more reasons than I care to write, but I’ll give as good of an explanation as I can. First and foremost, puppies that you buy at pet stores come from puppy mills more often than not. While the puppy mill people adamantly claim that they do not put down the dogs that they cannot sell, they are obviously pumping out as many dogs as they can possibly sell. These pet stores then try to persuade you into buying a dog on impulse. Dogs are living things that you adopt, and take into your house, and treat as a member of your family. They are not a new pair of jeans.
Also, puppy mills take focus away from pet shelters and animal rescues, who take in animals that desperately need homes. Why do animal shelters do this? I’ll tell you what isn’t their motivating factor; money. These shelters exist because the people who fund and run them love animals, and want them to be happy. Instead of seeing dogs as a business, they see dogs as a species that is being exploited by people who tug at the heartstrings of others, in order to turn a profit.
Many people go to pet stores because they want a specific breed. I can’t say that I don’t understand that, because I have a dream of being an older man whose children have grown up, who sits in his recliner, with his loyal Rottweiler by his side. I’ve interacted with several rotties who were family pets, and they were some of the coolest dogs I’ve ever met. That being said, looking back at it, I sort of see people who only want a specific breed as dog nazis, trying to have the superior race. If you want a certain breed though, that’s fine. There is an animal rescue for pretty much every type of dog, so please look there for your dream pet.
There’s another small myth that I’ve heard, which suggests that puppies that you get at the pound are damaged goods, and make bad pets. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that right now. Yes, some pets at the shelter have been neglected or abused, but the majority are just dogs that could not be properly taken care of. The ones that have rough pasts have it written in their description on the cage, or on the website anyway, so the people who are qualified to care for them can adopt them.
This is Xander, who I refer to as my firstborn son. Disregard the ribbon on his collar, because I didn’t put it there, the groomer did, earlier that evening. We got Xander from the Humane Society here in Tampa, and it’s the best choice that my wife and I made since getting married. You can’t find a more lovable dog anywhere, and he’s a pound puppy.
This is our boxer, Mosley. I wasn’t a huge fan of boxers before meeting him, and I don’t know if I’m a fan of the breed now, or just a huge fan of his. Mosley is originally a pet store puppy, but we actually took him in because my older sister was downsizing her living arrangement, and wanted him to be somewhere where he would have space to run and play. He’s even more gentle than Xander, who is half his size. He’s a bit of a wuss actually, but I love him unconditionally anyway.
Xander and Mosley are quite fond of one another, to the point where when we get home, Mosley greets us at the door, then runs to Xander’s crate, as if to say “Release my buddy please!” As much as they love each other, it doesn’t compare to how much me and Liz love them.
So if you still want to go to a pet store for your dog, it’s your right to do so. Just please know that you’re in the wrong, and that you’re paying a heap of money to be part of the problem. I, for one, sleep well at night, knowing that my wife and I did the right thing, and are extremely lucky to have the amazing furry companions that we do. I think for now on, that guy in the puppy suit is getting a horn honk, accompanied by a middle finger, every time I pass. Am I a dick? I don’t think so.