Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Valued Pet Store Customer

Dear Valued Pet Store Customer:

The puppies are not asleep in their food or water bowls.  They are sleeping in very large plastic crocks that I put in their cages specifically for them to sleep in.  I know it looks funny.  It is not a cause for alarm.  Before you have hysterics, ask yourself what the water bottles are for if not water, and why there is a much smaller, more appropriately sized bowl with food in it if not for food?

I would love to be able to give all my puppies beds and blankies, the lack of which causes you so much outrage. Unfortunately, these are puppies.  Puppies chew everything, swallow anything, and have an undeveloped gag reflex.  I would rather cause you outrage than placate you and put my puppies in harm's way.  The big bowls cannot wrap around necks and strangle, nor can large pieces be chewed off and cause intestinal obstruction or choking.  I know you understand.

I put a toy and a cow hoof in every kennel.  Sometimes toys are pooped on and require cleaning.  While a soiled toy is in the washer, the puppies still have a hoof to play with.  I understand that thinking of a puppy in a cage with no stimulation is distressing, but ask yourself why I would give some dogs toys and not others?

Sometimes, with extremely small dogs especially, I will house two in one kennel.  This is to lower stress, and thus the liklihood of hypoglycemia.  Puppies play roughly with each other.  Unless one of them is screaming, chances are they are okay.  The one that seems to be the "bully" right now will be the "victim" in another few minutes, wait and see before you start banging on the glass and screeching for help, practically causing me to have a heart attack.  I know it can look scary to people who are not used to watching dogs play, but this is how puppies learn to be better adults.  I wish they could all have cage-mates to learn bite inhibitions and other useful lessons from.  Please remember, this is my job and it is my job for a reason.  I do know what is play and what is serious aggression.  If I am concerned, I will separate dogs.

While we're on the subject of puppies housed together, let me assure you that a male and a female puppy in the same kennel is not going to result in more puppies, any more than a male and female toddler is going to result in infants.  These puppies are, on average, only ten weeks old.  Their little boy and little girl parts just aren't up to that task yet.  Yes, they may mount each other.  It has nothing to do with reproduction and everything to do with establishing a pecking order.  If you're really observant, you may realize that's the female mounting the male, anyway.  No, she's not "confused," she knows exactly what she's doing, you're the only confused party here.

Yes, they all will grow.  They're only ten weeks old, remember.  They are all going to get bigger than they are right now.

The date on the cage cards is their birthday, not the day they arrived at the store.  We (thankfully) are not in the habit of buying hours-old puppies.

They do not have "all" their shots.  They are up-to-date on their shots.  There is a difference.  The former implies that no more vaccinating needs to be done, and that is not true.  Puppies are babies and just like babies they need a series of vaccinations to be fully immune to anything.  We keep them current in a vaccination schedule.  They will need more after purchase, including their rabies at six months, and a rabies booster at a year.  Purchasing a puppy that is up-to-date on vaccinations does not mean it never needs any more.

Please don't tap or bang on the glass.  No, it doesn't actually really hurt their ears, but it does annoy the piss out of me.  Just imagine random people continually banging on your office window all day while you're trying to work and you'll understand what I mean.

If, despite hearing my valid reasons backed up with sound logic for doing things the way I do them, you are still not satisfied that my puppies are well cared for, please feel free to call animal control and make a complaint.  You do not have to lie and make up horrible stories to get him to go to the store, he is required by law to investigate every complaint.  I must warn you, he will know if you lie and you will make yourself look like a jackass, because he is here every few days to buy crickets for his reptilian pets and he stops by the kennel for a peek every time.  If, deep down in that secret place in your mind you know that your concerns are unfounded and that you will sound silly making the complaint you want to make unless you lie or otherwise embellish the truth, perhaps you should put the phone down and go find something constructive to do and not waste his time and our taxpayer money.

I know that you feel I am being unreasonably obstinate and unhelpful when I tell you that a Shar Pei/Beagle mix could be anywhere between 20 and 50 pounds as an adult.  Really, I am being very honest with you.  I will not tell you what you want to hear if what you want to hear is not the truth.  You may be annoyed with me now, but you would be really pissed later if I gave in to you now and you bought a dog that ended up being 30 pounds bigger than you expected.  And as long as we're talking about honesty, I honestly have to say that I have the dog's best interest foremost in my mind when I do this, not yours.  Sorry.

Please keep in mind that I am not a veterinarian.  I am honored, truly, that you trust my judgement enough to bring me your pet when he has a gaping bite wound or festering, inflamed and infected ears.  I feel really badly when I have to tell you that, really, there is not much I can do for you except recommend that you see an actual vet.  I do not have the means to treat large wounds in my kennel, and while I do have antibiotics and other prescription medications at my disposal, I am not allowed, by law, to dispense them to you.  It is flattering that you put that level of trust in me and my abilities, and I hate to see any animal in pain.  I really wish I could help you, and I feel an unnecessary sense of guilt by not being able to, so please spare my feelings and your dog and just go see a vet.  Some things just do not have a quick, cheap fix.

When I tell you that Frontline is a better product than a Hartz flea collar, I am not lying to you just to get you to shell out thirty more dollars.  I don't make commission.  If I just wanted you to spend a lot of money, I'd tell you the flea collar is the best thing for you and then watch you spend more than double the price of the Frontline on shampoos, carpet powders, premise sprays and foggers after the crappy collar didn't do it's office.

I am not trying to ruin your fun by insisting that you wait until another customer is out of the puppy room before you play with a puppy.  Yes, I know that you played with one on the floor "the other day," but that day was Saturday.  Today is Tuesday, and our back door is open to admit the deliveries we are expecting.  That door leads directly to a busy road mainly used by tractor trailers making deliveries to us and other stores.  The guys who deliver our supplies are harried, and usually not paying much attention to where they are going with their electric powered pallet jacks carrying 1,500 pounds of dog food.  I just think it's safer to wait until the puppy room is free, don't you?

I know you are aware that appropriately sized toys are important, because you just made a snide remark about the cow hoof as big as the Chihuahua's head.  That's actually okay.  She can't get anything stuck in it, she can't break big pieces off of it and choke, and she actually relishes the challenge it presents her.  Watch and see.

Neither I nor any of the other employees are perfect.  Mistakes happen.  But so far none of the employees has deliberately in one fell swoop caused death or serious damage to a puppy in our care through maliciousness, neglect, or sheer igorance.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of customers, who have dropped puppies and tried not to let anyone know, let them fall off the bench that is marked with the "ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO PUPPIES ALLOWED ON THE BENCH" sign and tried to give them back before anyone realized what had happened or how hurt they were, or stolen dogs.  Which is why we have to hold your ID while you're holding our puppy.  I'm sorry if you left your ID at home, but I cannot make an exception for you without undermining the entire policy.  Carrying your ID with you at all times is a good idea, just in case.  You never know who might ask for it, or when.

If I seem annoyed and you haven't even opened your mouth yet, please keep in mind that it's not you.  It was probably the person I had to explain all this to three minutes before you got here.  I promise not to take it out on you if you promise not to jump to crazy and blatantly incorrect conclusions.

Thank you, 

Your friendly pet store employee


  1. wow. props to you for being able to deal with the crazy people!

  2. Print it and post it on the kennel door. And all four windows. And all four walls in the puppy room. Not that anyone would read them, but at least when someone was being belligerent I could point at this letter instead of having to come up with a calm and satisfactory response on the spot.

  3. Shiba Jen, those aren't even the crazy people. Those are the normal every-day people. And I'm really not that good at dealing with them. Sometimes I get so angry I just have to leave the area.