Where Do I Get A Dog? – Part 1

Where do you go to find the perfect dog for your family?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a single right answer to this question. If you ask your friends and neighbors where they got their dogs, I doubt you’ll get a consensus. There are many ways a dog can find his way to the foot of your bed. Keep in mind, adding a new puppy to your family should be an informed decision not an emotional one. That being said, I understand this is a process where it is very easy to get sucked in to making an emotional decision. After all, those puppies are so darn cute!

In this series of articles, I take a look at some of the various distribution centers for our four legged friends. The first source we look at is, the dreaded pet shop:

Pet Shops: No one likes to admit they bought their puppy at a pet shop. It is common knowledge that these places are run by evil people. Like you, I learned this by watching the Oprah episode on puppy mills. Popular opinion is that anyone who supports these enterprises should be spayed or neutered without anesthesia. While there may be some truth to this, I don’t believe it is that black and white. There are an awful lot of puppies purchased every day at pet shops across the country. If the dogs coming out of pet shops were truly as horrific as we are made to believe, there wouldn’t be near as many of them as there are. That being said, know that pet shops are like Wedding Chapels in Las Vegas; it’s a place where emotional decisions are made.

When cruising the local mall, who can resist walking into the pet store to look at the puppies?  Seeing those cute little puppy dog eyes staring at you through the glass can rip a hole in your sentimental heart. One can only imagine how horrible it must be for this poor little puppy to have a chirping Cockatiel for a neighbor. Being the Good Samaritan you are, you know that for only $1200, you can swoop in and save this puppy’s pitiful life of living in a cage. Who knows, you might even get invited to be on Oprah.

Before you go and pull the trigger on your checkbook, take a look around. Is the store clean? Are the puppy’s cages clean? How much information on the puppy can you get? How old was the puppy when it left its littermates?  You should ask yourself these questions because you could end up dealing with the consequences of the answers for a long time.

The cleanliness issue deals with getting a healthy pup or a sick one. Newborn puppies are like Petri dishes for viruses and bacteria. More than one client of mine has brought home their perfect puppy from the pet store, only to have it end up at the doggie hospital for an extended period of time while it was battling Parvovirus or other dog diseases. When this happens, the kids are devastated and the $1200 you spent to buy the puppy is a drop in the bucket compared to having your new pup on life support for a week.

My other main concern about pet shop puppies is their age when they leave their littermates. In order to have a well-adjusted puppy, most research suggests not taking a puppy away from its mother and littermates prior to eight weeks of age. Puppies go through various stages of development and you really want them to get the entire eight weeks before you traumatize them by exposing them to your crazy household. While there is doggie Prozac, it’s usually much better if your puppy can make it au natural!

Can you get a decent dog from a pet shop? Many people do but many others have problems. Pet shops are certainly not my first choice. In our next article, we look at animal shelters.

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