Alex Miller: Puppy eyes meet the Dog Scrooge
Vail, CO Colorado
The puppy, my wife maintains, looked me square in the eye and communicated this message telepathically and instantaneously:
Dear Mr. Miller,
I know that you are at the moment disinclined to purchase me or any other puppy in this pet shop, and I understand your hesitation. Dogs are a big commitment. We can be noisy, messy, expensive and destructive. We dribble water on the floor, occasionally possess muddy paws and are inveterate crotch sniffers (but please note that, since I am a miniature Yorkshire terrier, I cannot reach such places and therefore get one more hash mark in the “pro” column). I know you have allergies, Mr. Miller, but studies have shown that my breed isn’t too bad in this category, and other studies have shown that people allergic to dogs have their symptoms decrease after prolonged exposure. It’s like living in Greeley ” you don’t notice the smell after a while.
But those are all the negative things, and I think that, were you to look at this objectively, you’d realize they’re all pretty unimportant when you consider the upside. I’d like you to take a moment now, Mr. Miller, and look at your son and wife and how their faces are lighting up just by holding me. They are giggling, filled with what can only be called joyous rapture. I have, by dint of my very puppy being, transported them to a happy place that’s causing all kinds of healthy endorphins to be released in their bodies. I ask you, Mr. Miller, short of handing out 50s, are you capable of eliciting such reactions from your family members like this?
I can deliver this joy on a regular basis, making your family happy at all times. I know I seem spendy at $1,500, but if you divide that by the number of minutes per year I will deliver happiness in your home, it turns into just pennies a day.
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Think about it.
My brain, in turn, took the message those soft, brown eyes attempted to convey and instantly translated it into this: “Big pain in the ass.” I looked away, eyeing a green gecko in a cage that looked at me with no such calculations.
I grew up with dogs, usually no less than three or four in the house at a time, and I know both their charms and their challenges better than most. In a home with four kids, to me it would be insanity to add another mouth to feed, a pooping-panting-peeing entity that either can’t be left alone, eats furniture or needs $700 back surgery. No, better to let them have the occasional fix at the Denver mall puppy city or whatever. Once our kindergartner gets it out of his system, he comes home and fawns over his tropical fish ” the perfect pets, in my mind.
Being a Dog Scrooge isn’t easy in the High Country, where dogs are often afforded human status and accompany their owners wherever they go. And while it may seem selfish to deprive my family and our community of yet another canine, it is a choice I make easily. Families like ours that barely scrape by up here have no business adding the additional financial burden of a dog. On my agonizing rounds through mountain supermarkets standing agog at the prices, at least I have the tiny thrill of occasionally walking down the pet aisle knowing I don’t need anything, anything at all.
I hope that little Yorkie was taken home by a nice person or family, and that he lives a long, happy life. But he was wrong to target the Dog Scrooge, me, and I know something he didn’t:
Our lease doesn’t allow pets anyway.
Alex Miller can be reached at email@example.com.