I need another dog in my house like I need a hole in the head, but boy, the puppy fever is coming on strong this year. My favorite video of Niles came up in my Facebook memories today, and I went from “Sure, it would be nice to pet a puppy right now” to “I NEED A FAT LITTLE PIT BULL TO SNUGGLE, STAT.”
This time last year, we had oodles of puppies in the rescue already and more on the way. It was a puppy-heavy year, 2016; we probably had more than 50 come through. I fostered a few of them, and my record with pit puppies was … not great. I fostered four, successfully adopted out two and kept two. My carpets will never be the same.
If you’re thinking about getting a puppy and have never had one before, I’ll take this opportunity for a little shameless self-promotion and say take a gander at this post for a taste of the experience. I would also urge you to take your time and do your research. Be honest about your household. Do you travel? Do you want to travel? Are you active? I-spend-my-weekends-hiking-the-Appalachians active? I-run-a-few-times-a-week active? I-don’t-want-to-say-I’m-lazy-so-I’m-saying-active active? Are you planning for kids? Are you super attached to your furniture and your rugs?
Look at your budget. Do you think the expenses stop at the purchase cost/adoption fee? They do not. Do you think they stop at a collar, leash, bowls, and a brush? They do not. Do you think food will be your only monthly expense? It will not.
Look at your area resources. Do you have a force-free trainer within the distance you’re willing to drive for training? Do you know what a force-free trainer is compared to any other trainer? Did you know there are different philosophies about dog training and some are distinctly right and some are distinctly wrong?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Jesus, yes, okay, I’m not a moron!” then please know you are in the minority of people who have thought of these and the rest of the questions you need to ask. If you have, in fact, answered All The Questions, I would urge you to resist the temptation to buy the first puppy you see.
Like, I get it. You see a Craiglist or Facebook ad for puppies. They’re damn cute. The person is asking between $50 and $350, which isn’t expensive. You tell yourself you’re saving a puppy from a bad situation, or maybe you don’t even bother with that. It’s really easy; the breeder will meet you at a gas station or a Walmart. Maybe they’ll try to figure out you’re a nice person based on a quick conversation and your general appearance, but they probably won’t care either way. No filling out applications, no asking for references, no home visits. It’s quick and painless.
The day after you get your puppy home, it’s shitting blood and whimpering and lethargic and vomiting. Maybe you go straight to the vet or maybe you waste precious time asking randos on Facebook for advice. Hopefully you end up at the vet in time, and hopefully your puppy makes it, because parvovirus isn’t anything to screw around with. Whether your puppy lives or not, you’re probably walking out with a vet bill between $1,000 and $3,000. Your puppy still isn’t spayed or neutered. It hasn’t gone to training. Things aren’t so painless now.
Okay, maybe you’re reading and thinking I’m being a little dramatic. You know five people who have gotten their dogs from locals who had an “oopsie” or are just trying to make some side cash, and they turned out just fine. That’s fair; I know people like that too, and some of them are fantastic dog owners. If you’re pretty much open to getting a puppy wherever you happen to see one, I guess I would just ask you to do me one favor.
Don’t call your rescue or shelter volunteer friend and ask about adopting first. Just don’t do it. If you’re not committed to adopting, don’t fucking tease us. If that rescue or shelter has any ethics at all, you will have to fill out some kind of application and go through some kind of screening, and if all you want is a puppy ASAP, you won’t do it. Maybe your friend says, “We don’t have any puppies right now, but I know rescues X, Y, and Z have some!” but you don’t feel like opening another tab and typing in another web address when you have a Craigslist puppy right here on this tab. So just don’t ask. Don’t say anything to us about being ready for a dog. If you don’t say anything, we can pretend you forgot we spend all our free time trying to keep dogs from dying alone and unloved. When you ask, though, there’s no pretending. It’s really obvious you don’t care. We don’t give two shits if you find a puppy from a rescue we don’t volunteer for; lots of rescues work together and we’re happy to see any dog get adopted. We also don’t care if you spend $3,000 on an Ibizan Hound puppy from an ethical breeder you had to track down all the way in California because she was the only one who met your standards of genetic testing and puppy socialization. If you’re set on a dog that’s going to be hard to find in rescue, and you’re willing to spend that kind of money and do that kind of legwork, more power to you. But to buy a pudgy little pit mix when there are literally thousands of pudgy little pit mixes getting the needle every goddamn day? Yeah, you can bet we take it personally. Yeah, you can bet we think about it every time you post a photo. Yeah, you can bet it changes our opinion of you.
Part of me hates to be salty on National Puppy Day. Puppies are sweet and fun and make people happy, and this post is none of that. The other part of me says no, screw that, dogs are dying. After you yank six puppies and their mom off the euthanasia list, it shifts your perspective and there’s no going back. This is the reality. So yeah, get pissed at me if you want. God, can’t we just enjoy National Puppy Day?
No, we cannot. Fuck your apathy and fuck your excuses. We’re done with them.