Pet Shop Girl

Copyright © 1998 Walt Zientek

I just needed a few things.

I really didn't need to walk to the back of the shop where the puppies
are kept. I certainly didn't need to see one room filled with black and
chocolate labs. I didn't need to have that beautiful black female pup
look up at me with those dark, soft eyes.

I suppose I didn't have to kneel down to get as close to her as I did. Or
touch the glass and talk to her. Or try to get her tail wagging. I surely
didn't need that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the one that makes you
think about reaching for your wallet.

I didn't want to think about the place she came from. I didn't want those
pictures in my mind. I never wanted to think about the cages and the
stink and the dogs being bred, litter after litter until they lost their value
as puppy manufacturers. I didn't want to think about her momma in a
crate, cramped and dirty and lonely. And sad.

I didn't want to consider how young and frightened she was when she
was put in a truck to be shipped back east. How terrified she must have
been by the separation and the noise, by the smells and by the sounds.
I didn't want to wonder if all the siblings in her litter survived the trip.

I didn't like feeling the way the average person feels when they see a
puppy in a Pet Shop. I didn't like the impulses I felt. I didn't want to feel
like rescuing her. But I felt that, too. I understood why people bought
their dogs this way. I understood that saving this dog supported the
system, paid the "breeder" and the driver and the shop owner and the
clerks. I understood that saving this puppy, this soft gentle girl, fed the
system I didn't want to think about.

I didn't really need to feel the way I did; sad, angry and guilty. I didn't
need to say I'm sorry or goodbye to that soft-eyed little girl who pressed
her dark nose against the glass to touch my hand, to get my scent, to be

I only needed a few things.

But I didn't need them badly enough to buy them there.

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Last modified: 8-19-2000

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