Dog Owners Look No Further….
DOG OWNERS LOOK NO
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Throw Me A Bone
Meet me, the average punter going to look for a dog. I do a bit of reading about breeds of dogs, dogs that will fit into the confines of our apartment, dogs that don’t shed, dogs that wont agitate my hyper sensitive everything, dogs that ultimately I like the look of. The miniature schnauzer comes up trumps.
I jump onto Trademe every night with a cup of char and a real desire to add a dog to our unit. I convince Jo (my partner) that we are ready. I ignore the uncertainty in her voice.
I want to follow my instincts “get two dogs” I have learned to listen to that inner voice when it pipes up and has something to say. The voice said ‘you and Jo work all the time, two’s company but three’s a crowd, he is going to need a mate’. I realise now “fresh off the banana boat” in terms of dog ownership, that was a brave call, double the trouble, double the spend, double the magnitude of responsibility. I am convinced I am right, I vaguely mention it to Jo in passing, but am smart enough not to mention it again.
I trawl the net looking at one cute puppy after another, night after night, week after week, until I find them, the last two runts of the litter, one salt & pepper and one black miniature schnauzer. I show Jo, she really likes the black one, and I tell her I really like the grey one. I jump on the blower, and try to communicate with someone whose English isn’t particularly distinguished. We are getting no-where, and she hangs up. A minute later her son rings back, we speak pigeon English and we make a date to view the pups.
The day arrives; we head out west to see these little guys. Jo is going to see the black one. I am going to see both. Jo is “just going to have a look”. I have got the folding in my pocket.
They are both shoved on the dining table directly in front of me. Jo goes outside and starts to bond with the black one, I start to play with the grey one. I give Jo the nod, she doesn’t know quite what’s happening, but I whip out the cash and ask for a deal for both. We cut a deal and my pocket is 3k lighter, clearly I am not a great deal maker.
I had made up my mind before I arrived; I had gone to get both of them. They were mates, they had come into the world together, and 12 weeks into their ride, they were still together. I had come to get them, the grey one and the black one. We packed them into a cardboard box, and headed home.
We were not prepared, we were not equipped, and we were not that ready. Luckily we had three things going for us on their arrival. One; time off to spend with them, two; we owned our own business so they could be with us whenever it suited and three; Jo knew a damn fine vet.
Meet me; I represent probably 90% of New Zealanders who get a dog. Some of us more educated than others, but most of us green, even with the experience of a family dog under our belt, we are still green and things have changed a lot. Properties are smaller, budgets are tighter, options are greater, the industry is greedier, and people like me stand alone thinking does anyone around here speak English.
I searched for information, and their wasn’t a lot of New Zealand based stuff, that was written in a way I could understand. In fact it was clearly geared by the industry as a gratuitous attempt to provide a gesture of something, but not enough as far as I was concerned.
People tell me that pet ownership is on the rise, that we now regard our dogs as one of the family, and are prepared to spend large sums of money to keep them healthy and happy. People suggest with the aging population, and the growing number of single households and childless couples that dogs are fast becoming the four-legged furry substitute. People also tell me the number one cause of death for all registered dogs under the age of 2 is surrender. UNBELIEVABLE.
Vets now have the technology to literally bring your dog back from the dead. Insurance companies respond by providing the finance for the ongoing wellbeing of your pet. Yet at the same time visitations to the vet by New Zealand pet owners has decreased at a rate of 1% every year for the last four years. Most vets are still happy to stand at the bottom of the cliff, waiting to deal with things once they have gone wrong. Most people don’t know that there are things you can do at the top of the cliff to prevent the fall.
People tell me that the Generation Y consumer has arrived, now aged between 18yrs-34yrs, Gen-Y will create a wave of new dog owners. I can tell people that Gen-Y, value their phone more than the hand that holds it, they value the Internet more than their TV, and they communicate all of the intimacies of their lives through FB – and they have many many electronic friends whom they will never meet.
I love my dogs, I couldn’t bear the thought of them suffering, and they are without doubt my four-legged fur babies. But, it’s the blind leading the naked out there in terms of care and ownership because we are not responding to the changing social dynamic of an electronic era, more and more people with less and less space, and a vet community whom are out of touch with their patients for a huge chunk of those patients lives.
Life is short, and even shorter when you are a dog, but I can’t help but think you can add width to the length of that short life with a little more education, a little more help, and a little more interest from other dog owners who get what we are about.
This is our answer.
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