My family had the great fortune to find our family pet, Bailey, at a pet shop…in the mall. Now I know by the look on your faces, some of you may disapprove of our purchase. I will tell you in this case, your perception doesn’t match our reality. Let me say, this isn’t a post about where people get there pets from, and what is or isn’t right, it’s just about my family’s great fortune to find Bailey.
Looking back at it, I’m sure we paid more than we would have if we had purchased Bailey from a “responsible breeder”. Probably twice as much. A responsible breeder would never place a puppy in a store and pet shops are filled only with puppies born in puppy mills, unhealthy dogs kept in small cages or some would have you believe.
Does that mean these dogs don’t deserve a good home? Of course not. As for Bailey, he was the right dog, for the right family, at the right time. No matter where he came from or how much he cost. If you were to see him on the street, all you would see is a friendly beagle who would love you like family. An instant friend.
Now Bailey came with all the A.K.C. papers. Just like beagles from responsible breeders. He was current on any required shots and all of his paperwork listed not only where he came from, but his lineage as well. Was it all legitimate? While I will admit it mattered when we bought him… it doesn’t matter now. We were more than satisfied that he would be the perfect family pet. And he has been.
One of the great things about Bailey is the relationship he has with each member of the family. My son is more like a den mate, a sibling, equals in every way… brothers. Two straws stirring the same drink.
My wife? Bailey is her constant shadow, following her from room to room during the day, by her side as she works at home. Many a conference call has been interrupted by one of his sudden howls for attention. When she comes home from a trip, he is the first to greet her at the door. Usually before she can get her suitcase in the house. I’m usually asleep in front of the T.V. (don’t judge me, I work hard too).
Bailey absolutely adores my daughter. After college she moved to Florida, but she tries to come up a couple of times a year. From the minute she comes home he is by her side. They couldn’t be happier. And when she turns in for the night, we know just where to find him.
As for me, the so-called “master” of our domain? I’m the hand that feeds him. And he knows it. And since he constantly wants to eat, I see his big brown eyes staring up at me often. I also wrestle with him, usually over his smelly stuffed mallard (he has 4 but will only use 1). One of my lasting images will be of him standing next to me, staring up at me with that mallard in his mouth, daring me to take it from him.Once in a while if he lets me… I even get to win.
Beagles can be great service animals as well as wonderful hunting dogs. Bailey is neither. I have no doubt he could be good at either, we just never trained him. From day one he has always been a family dog, an “inside dog”. Deer and other animals who frequent the yard know they don’t need to worry about him. He will usually regard them with a classic hound greeting when he first sees them, but after that he could care less. One summer morning, while out for a bathroom break, he caught the scent of a rabbit in the yard and was in full chase when he suddenly stopped, remembering why he was outside in the first place. The rabbit got away and Bailey got relieved. Certainly not the great hunter.
I have watched Bailey grow with my kids. After we brought him home we enrolled him, and I guess the kids too, in obedience training (they all needed it) and it gave the kids the chance to learn responsible pet ownership and how to handle our newest member of the family. In turn, Bailey has taught us how to follow schedules…HIS. From how he jumps at the backdoor to go out, to how we know he’s hungry or thirsty by kicking his bowl across the kitchen floor, he has become the great communicator. His loyalty and companionship have gone far beyond what we could have imagined that Saturday in 2003 when we picked him, and him us…at the pet store.
We will be celebrating Bailey’s 13th birthday this year, that’s 74 to me and you. He moves a little slower, sleeps a little more, and his face is a little greyer, just like me. His birthday is July 14th, the same as my wife, so as we enjoy cake, Bailey will be right there with us, staring at us with his big brown eyes ( just like my wife’s) and enjoying his Frosty Paws. He’s certainly earned it.
Let me stop here and include a public service message about choosing the right pet for your family. The following 2 links are from the A.K.C. (American Kennel Club) and the ASPCA and discuss their opinion of responsible breeding, pet ownership, and selecting the pet best for your family. A third opinion comes from P.E.T.A. and says that choosing a pet from anywhere other than an animal shelter is irresponsible. While I understand that position, I don’t agree with it.