When David and I got married we lived in a rented flat for a year so we couldn’t have a dog or a cat. I did have a canary but you can’t really play with them. We both came from homes with pets so as soon as we bought our first home we planned to get a puppy and a kitten. Since that time I have never been without a dog or a cat for long but being a pet owner has become a lot harder and a lot more expensive since the nineteen seventies.
Buying a pedigree dog or cat from a breeder was always too expensive for us. Our pets came from friends and family members whose pets had litters, from pet shops or from shelters. I don’t know if there were Puppy Farms back then, we had not heard of them. Most people who were selling pups didn’t ask a lot for them. A mixed breed dog was a mutt or a mongrel and there were no designer dogs like Labradoodles, Groodles, Cavachons or Cockaliers . These new breeds are very expensive. Our first puppy cost me five dollars, best five dollars I ever spent too.
I don’t say this is all bad. Puppy Farms are dreadful, the poor animals suffer terribly and puppies born in them are more likely to have physical defects and sometimes mental ones as well. Fewer pet shops are selling puppies now too which is good I suppose because you can’t always be sure where they have come from. Obviously it is better to get a dog from a breeder or from a shelter. Shelter dogs are vaccinated, desexed and microchipped which of course any responsible pet owner would want to do. But it has made it expensive for people like me on low incomes because it is hard to find several hundred dollars all at once. In the old days that cost could be spread over several months.
I hope that the fact that it is harder to get a pet now will make people take better care of them and I believe that people who have abused or neglected their pets should never be allowed to have another but I also think it would be a shame if pet ownership became something that only the rich could afford. Pets have great value as companions for people who are isolated by age, illness or other issues and these are the people who would find it hard to afford to pay for one.
My dog, Cindy is ten years old. During the past year or so as I’ve had to adjust to living alone having her to care for has helped me to cope but I am not sure if I will be able to have another dog after her. If I did I would probably go to a shelter to find one but I feel that my suitability to own a pet might be judged by my income.
Perhaps we will have to buy our pets on time payments in future.