Monday, March 26, 2007

The Price of Puppy Love

I’ve walked pass The Local Puppy Palace many times without going in, but today - in celebration of it’s 10 year anniversary - a sign in the window offered "A Free Goodie Bag for Your Furry Baby!" The Mister, my moody seven-year old Cocker Spaniel, is hard to please; a picky eater who turns his nose up at most of the treats I give him. Milk Bones? What dog doesn’t like Milk Bones? The Mister. Oh he’ll take them from me, but he rarely eats them. For days on end a bone will languish in various spots around the house: the hallway, the office, the bedroom, apparently anywhere my foot is likely to find it. He’s also been known to stash a few under the couch like a squirrel storing nuts for the Winter. When the famine comes, he’ll be ready.

So the offer of a free goodie bag was very enticing. A chance to find something The Mister would like, without spending money? Sold! I walked into The Local Puppy Palace intending to get my free goodie bag and bolt, forgetting completely that I’d have to make it past a passel of puppies in the process. Ay, there’s the rub.

Separated by breed, the palace pups lay in beautifully appointed baby cribs like little furry babies. As I’m sure it was calculated to be, I felt the vise like tug on my heart and the tidal wave rise of my maternal instincts.

The free goody bags were at the register, at the far end of the store, reachable only by walking through the gauntlet of cribs. Who could resist stopping to peek as the puppies rustled around in their newspaper lined cribs. Pure breeds all, they were quite adorable, but it was a little Silky Hair Terrier that caught my eye.

So small. Her ears were bigger than she was. When I reached into the crib to pet her, she hoisted herself up, grabbed my hand between her tiny paws and gently nibbled on my fingers. It was love at first lick. She was trembling a little so I picked her up to calm her. She felt so tiny and fragile in my arms, weighing less than my handbag. Not even as big as a baby. Somebody help me.

Appearing out of nowhere, like good sales people do, the clerk told me that this little ball of love was only three months old and would grow to be five pounds at the most. Wow, she did weigh less than my handbag, and would probably fit nicely into it without making it noticeably heavier. I imagined bringing her home. Would she make a nice addition to the family, a companion for The Mister?

So I ventured into dangerous territory and asked the question:

"How much is she?"
"Thirteen hundred."
The background music in my head abruptly changed from "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" by Doris Day to "Can’t Buy Me Love" by the Beatles. I was so stunned, all I said was,

"Yes, but we’re running a special."
I’m sure you are.
"$200 off."

A Rover Rebate. How thoughtful.

Sensing my firm ‘no’ as a mere hesitation, the Clerk brightly informed me that financing was available. Really? Well that made all the difference in the world. Now the answer was definitely, no. I’d finance a house, a car, an education, but a dog. No, Sir. What if I defaulted on the payments? Would they take the dog back? Would I be living in fear of the Puppy Repo Man? Get my purse snatched not for my wallet, but my dog? No can do.

Although a pure breed himself, The Mister was not a store bought dog. We rescued him from a shelter. He’d been abused and abandoned by his former owners so I never knew him as a pup. I would have loved to have held him in my arms as I did Miss Silky and give him a good home right from the start. What wouldn’t I give to have done that? Eleven hundred dollars.

I eased Miss Silky her right back into her crib, picked up a free goodie bag for The Mister and left. At 35 pounds he may not be able to fit in my handbag, but he does fit my wallet. Puppy love is out of my price range.

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