The Pet Shop


Our Lemonade LOOOOOOOVES dogs. If we are driving in the car, she’s on the lookout. On a walk, lookout. Even in stores she manages to spot the dogs. She even calls to them. “Dog? Dog? Arf! Arf!” It’s incredibly precious. Dog was one of her first words and easily her favorite animal.


So sometimes we take her to the mall to play on the indoor playground. She thinks she’s hot stuff playing with the big kids and she gets out a lot of energy that we can’t get out outside where it’s too cold. In the mall, there is also a pet store. So the other day when the mall staff was cleaning the playground, we decided to take her to see the dogs.


If you’ve never been in a pet store before, I’ll just paint you a little picture. One wall is all plexi-glass fronts on dog cages. Then there are cages down the middle holding less “active” pets like birds, hamsters, other rodents, and cats. Then in the back is the supplies you will need.


So we took Lemonade in to see the dogs. And they are puppies and in ridiculously small cages, so they nap, probably a lot. They have kids picking on them and staring at them. They get their hopes up all the time only to have them crushed. They’ve never seen grass or run around outside. They’ve only been from breeder (and I say that nicely) to store.


And as I watched a little boy tap on the glass to see which puppies he could rile. I was not at all surprised to see most of the puppies ignore him. But one puppy caught my eye. It was a Shiba Inu – a beautiful puppy, so happy and excited to have a friend to play with. And the little boy teased him mercilessly through the glass.


It was at this moment that I was reminded of my time working in an orphanage in Mexico. Mexican culture is not one that has “orphans” so orphanages are interesting places. Most of these kids have and know their parents, but their parents cannot afford to take care of them so they leave them at the home. Most kids happily assume that mom and dad will come anytime to pick them up. Typically, children are cared for by a relative in situations like this, especially with babies, but as families separate more and more for various reasons, this isn’t happening either. And orphanages are a relatively new thing, and kids don’t get adopted because, like I said, they have parents.


When we would go to the orphanages, most of my friends would play soccer or do swings with the kids. I don’t like to run and plus, I really love babies. I honestly think some people were afraid to go in and see what was inside the building. It was scary. I don’t blame them. I saw 30 cribs lined up with babies just laying in them. There was a basket of toys on the floor, and a couple infant carriers. There was an attendant at a desk doing paper work – of which I am sure there was a lot. But the babies, the poor babies, were laying in their cribs.


I quickly washed my hands and asked if I could hold as many as I could pick up safely at one time. These were not newborns – they were probably 6months to a year – probably having been left by their mothers after having tried their hardest to keep them.


Let me tell you the saddest thing about an orphanage – apathy. And not from the staff because I believe they do their absolute best. No, from the babies. Babies stop crying when they stop being consoled. And when there is a 30:1 ratio, they aren’t being consoled often. And then their brain stops developing. There is research on this. It literally kills me to the read the studies done on babies who were not picked up or talked to. But I digress, because this is about puppies.


In that orphanage, there was 1 baby who had not lost hope. I don’t remember her name but I would run and pick her up first. I would get her playing then grab a couple of my friends who were holding babies and get them to play together. Her spark would rub off on the other babies like the first spark in a fire. It was beautiful and it pains me to think of her now…


So this beautiful puppy, he is that baby. He refuses to lose his spark. People will ignore him thinking he’s too wild or active, but all he wants is love. And he’s BEGGING for it. He refuses to lie down and wait for someone to open his cage. He will bark, run, jump, play as much as he can.


I don’t like pet shops. I think, like a lot of things in life, there are lots of pets who need taken care of without the mass production of specific breeds by “breeders”. I wish more people would adopt (like babies, but that’s for later…maybe today if I can muster the energy it will take).


But being in that pet shop, my heart hurt for the apathy in so many of those puppies who don’t see any reason to hope.


And hope is something we could all use a little more of.


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