There were a couple of letters to the editor today in the Kansas City Star about a recent ban on bringing pets to the City Market. One letter was a complaint, and one was a “thank God it’s over” letter. Need I mention that the City Market is primarily an outdoor food market? After the Brookside Art Fair this year, there were letters complaining about the large numbers of people with dogs at the art fair. OK, call me Dr. Scroogelittle, but I don’t want to spend an afternoon at a crowded art fair, where in addition to maneuvering through throngs of people I also have to dodge their dogs and try to avoid having my sandled feet bathed in dripping strings of dog slobber. Ditto for the City Market.
I for one don’t think dogs really belong in places where people are shopping.
I came to this conclusion after my one and only foray to Petco with my dog Coco. It’s where the pets go, you know. I go to Petco when there’s more than cat and dog food on the pet needs list and I’ve seen lots of folks there with their dogs. Looked pretty cute and maybe just a little fun, so one Sunday morning a few weeks ago I decided to take Coco on a shopping trip, primarily to assuage my guilt for not taking him for enough walks lately. As soon as I got the leash out, Coco’s little stump of a tail started its Happy Wag and believing we’d soon be taking a long awaited walk so he could pee on a myriad of bushes, he assumed the position to have his leash put on. However, after a few minutes of driving he began to realize that I was not taking our usual route to the park. I imagined his little doggie mind sadly revising his thoughts from wiggly anticipation to ho-hum resignation that we were simply going on a boring car ride where he wouldn’t be able to pee on one single thing. We pulled into the Petco parking lot and I let him out on his leash. Immediately, his canine nose sucked in a veritable amusement park of olfactory delights. There were dogs here. Lots of dogs. Sweet glory, I must pee on something immediately.
Coco is a champion pee-er. During hot summer walks when I don’t think my mouth could muster up one more drop of saliva, Coco’s little body just keeps cranking out the pee. It’s truly remarkable to see such a small animal urinate so much. I could probably rent him out to farmers in drought affected areas as a mobile irrigation unit. So by the time we walked across the Petco parking lot and got to the front door of the store, Coco had already peed on about 10 different things -grass, bushes, car tires, and both corners of the building. Unfortunately for me, this shopping trip was going to require a cart for the litter box supplies, cat litter, and pet food I needed to buy and I very quickly discovered that trying to wrangle a cart and a dog on a leash who wanted to pee on everything and smell every square inch of the store floor wasn’t going to be a walk in the park (pun intended). Instead of a blissful retail experience with my pet, I found myself manically flinging the needed pet supplies into the cart while trying to keep Coco from peeing on the display items.
Petco has little clean-up stations all around the store so you can be a good shopper and wipe up your pet’s “accidents”. Accidents my ass. Dogs don’t just accidentally pee on stuff, they do it on purpose and so far I’d been able to yank Coco’s leash at just the right time to halt any marking activity inside the store. We made it to the checkout line with our cart of supplies a mere five minutes after walking in the door. That’s pretty much a record for me in Petco because the myriad of pet supplies tends to lull me into a full-blown shopper stupor. I can spend a long time looking at all the cutesy pet do-dads and marveling over all the different things offered for so many different kinds of animals. Not this time though. I couldn’t wait to unload the too-big cart, pay for my shit and get myself and my pee machine out of there. Of course, being Sunday morning, there was only one cashier and a line of people so we ended up waiting in line about twice as long as it took to toss cat litter and pet food into the cart. I allowed myself a moment to relax, closed my eyes and took a cleansing breath. Upon opening my eyes I noticed that in my 30-second period of Zen, Coco had peed on the inconveniently placed dog bed display right next to the check-out line.
I ignored it. And besides, there wasn’t a doggie accident station nearby and I was damned if I was going to lose my place in line to traipse around the store to find a wipey-thing to clean up a little mess in a place where they not only let you bring your dog – they encourage it.
Well, that will be the last time I take Coco shopping. I don’t know what I expected anyway – a meaningful discussion with him regarding clumping vs. non-clumping litter for the kitties? Or whether he preferred to stick with Kibble ‘n Bits or make the switch to the heart-healthy Beneful product we’ve been seeing on TV. No, it seems to me that pets belong in the park, not in the parking lot. Or in the store. And I’m now feeling an aversion to going back to a store where dogs have probably peed on every conceivable surface below knee level. The way I see it, if you invite pets into your store, there’s bound to be trouble.
Petco, it’s not where I really want to go. Anymore. At least not with my pet.