We were on the floor with two little bundles of absolute joy. Black, brown and white, big floppy ears, long waggy tails, pointy puppy teeth playing with my fingers. We’d come to choose which of these two gorgeous puppies would become a part of our little family forever, and I smiled at Mike, he smiled at me. We’d both decided on the same little girl puppy.
That’s when the pet shop lady came over to ask us how we’d like to pay…
Almost 10 years ago my husband and I were in a very different place than we are now. We’d both just returned from 5 years living in the UK, and for me, 3 years living interstate before that. We’d bought a house with a yard, just moved in and were desperate to finally find our dog that we’d been dreaming of for all that time.
It was perfect timing, we thought. I was working odd hours in hospitality, with shifts all over the place, and my husband was finally focusing on completing his education masters, so he was home most days working and reading, and only occasionally called in for relief teaching work.
We had decided years ago we wanted a beagle, and having both had dogs previously, were prepared for the extra training and involvement that a beagle would demand!
It seemed the perfect time to settle in a beagle puppy to our home.
Except, no one had any beagles for sale. We contacted the breeders, here and interstate. A heap never got back to us, but those who did had no puppies available, and wouldn’t for at least 6 months. A few who got back to us were just plain rude and turned us right off doing business with them anyway.
One day, I popped into a pet shop nearby, and found two adorable beagles for sale. I called my husband, and he met me there, and we talked and played and considered our options.
We went home that night and already started talking about what we would name her. We weighed up the pros and cons, the timing wouldn’t get any better…
So the next day, we went back and bought our little beagle pup. From a pet shop.
As much as I try to justify the timing, the fact that there were no breeders with puppies available, no beagles in shelters either at the time, that we’d always dreamed of having a beagle together (all that time in the English countryside..) I’m ashamed now to admit in public that we bought her from a pet shop.
I had an inkling at the time that it was the wrong thing to do, but the term “puppy farm” or “puppy mill” was not in my vocabulary. Having spent so long in England, probably the most animal loving country in the world, it wasn’t even a thing I could put a name to, let alone know what they were.
I wanted my puppy. The puppy Mike and I had dreamed of the whole time we were traveling.
I did the wrong thing.
Now I know that my beagle came from a puppy farm, of that I am almost certain. Now I understand that my beagle came from parents in distress. Now it makes me desperately sad to think that my beagle’s mother never knew what it meant to sleep in the sun on the doorstop. It makes me ashamed that my beagle’s dad never got to cuddle on the couch. My beagle’s mum never got to play and learn and sniff and explore.
I know now that I did the wrong thing.
I love my beagle. We’ve given her an amazing life with us. I’ll forever be grateful for everything that she’s given us.
I would never, ever give her up.
But I did the wrong thing.
Reconciling the gift she has given us, with where she came from and how she came to be, is so terrible. Was it worth it? Was our joy from having her in our life worth the suffering of the other dogs still in that puppy farm, wherever it is?
I love my beagle to the end of the world. I did the wrong thing.
It shouldn’t have been the wrong thing. It should have been the best thing.
Pets Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) is lobbying for responsible and traceable sales of pets in pet stores, including micro chipping of all puppies and kittens so new owners can determine where they have come from, and be informed at the point of sale. You can read more about what they are lobbying for here: http://piaa.net.au/nsw-parliamentary-inquiry-heeds-industry-input/by