My Trip to Petco


a privately held pet retailer in the United States

I recently went to a Petco across the bridge from my home. My intention was to get my dog all groomed up at the beginning of the year. Maybe I could keep my dog handsome this winter if I started off on the right foot.

As I drove through the parking lot I realized there were multiple things going on in and around the store. I had to park a considerable jaunt away. I chose to carry my medium size dog to the store, do to the fact that he is not very well trained and was already overly excited. Upon arrival at the entrance I noticed two pens opposite each other with dogs for sale of every age, size and variety. Also, there was a cardboard table with two people sitting at it, pretty young women sipping their Starbucks, taking donations for underprivileged pets. Also known as food donations. But those aren’t the only aesthetics. People moving about in the parking lot between the pop up pens and the cardboard table were smiling, laughing, being kind to the animals and each other. They were all dressed in Saturday morning attire, exercise clothes and light jackets (yes this is Southern California in winter), and sipping on coffees.

I was intrigued. I ventured into the store through the automatic doors which beckoned my innocence. What I found was more of the same, but better. Pretty people of all ages had dogs of all kinds on leashes walking to and fro. Some were waiting in line to check in with the groomer, okay that’s where I belonged. As I stood waiting my turn, my dog’s curiosity was fully aroused as his ears pricked up and he became still and observant. We noticed people gathering supplies like food, a new toy, treats. Others were starting new relationships with some fish, a hamster, someone was adopting a dog.

Next to the grooming line was another line to see a veterinarian. From the look of it most of her services were free, others offered at a nominal price. She was patient and kind and sort of looked like an animal saint but my fixated staring was interrupted when the groomer said I was next.

I agreed to “The Spa Package” with the oatmeal bath and the nail filing and teeth check. Then I said, “Why do I feel like I’m at Doggy Disneyland? It literally feels like I’m in a commercial. Everyone is in harmony. All the dogs are behaving themselves. Everyone is so nice!” The groomer replied, “It’s funny that you say that, we call it ‘The Happiest Place On Earth For Dogs’.” I handed my Max over and turned slowly to look around. The eco-friendly architecture and sustainable naturalness of the environment was all retro-California cool. Most of the women were wearing Lululemon. Everyone had a Starbucks in hand.

As I walked out I acknowledged that my beloved dog could care less that I was leaving him. A large German Shepard barked. It broke the spell, being the only bark I had heard in twenty minutes or so. I felt bad for the dog’s owner with everyone looking at her accusingly. There will be none of that here. Americans, or at least Southern Californians, treat their pets better than some countries treat their children. And I had just willingly participated in it. But in a parallel universe I kinda wanted to live there. Forever. With everything going on in the world it was a peaceful place where everyone agreed on love. It was awesome. And even the the animals wore smiles. I can’t wait to go back in 4-6 weeks and see Shannon, Max’s groomer. And I’m not sure, but I think I kind of like that about myself.

“Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky”

John Grogan

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

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