Service of Pets II

June 23rd, 2011

Categories: Dependability, Good Samaritan, Pets, Training

I could write about pets every week and have succumbed to temptation several times before, once to mostly crow about their charm and once to note how vets seem to take better care of animals than some doctors do people.

Many pay $ thousands for purebred dogs and cats, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” as Seinfeld would have said, especially if you plan to use the dog to hunt or rescue, if that’s what a breed has instincts to do. I don’t think I’d love a purebred any more than the cats and dogs in my household over the years. None of mine have been 100 percent anything, but they haven’t been working dogs or cats either [other than to smile at the camera].

I admire Seeing Eye dog foster families who invite puppies to live with them until they are old enough to graduate to hardcore training. They also give the little ones initial instruction, for free. They know in advance that they must give up the furry love balls. Their reimbursement: That they are helping a stranger become independent, a remarkable gift.

In contrast I read about a different approach and reimbursement model in a recent front page story in The New York Times “For the Executive with Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It,” by John Tierney. He wrote about tycoons and celebs who spend mostly in the $40,000 to $60,000 range for German shepherds trained to protect them and he obviously also wrote about the dog worth almost a quarter of a million dollars. The concept is that a dog is a cheaper guardian than a human security guard.

I wonder how reliable the dogs are at either $40,000 or $230,000 for a rough life in the security biz? I’ve seen the sweetest, gentlest dogs turn nasty/fierce/act dog-like in a flash provoked by something unfamiliar and sometimes, for no reason evident to me. I would worry that the dog might get a mixed signal and attack, by mistake, a visiting mother-in-law, friend or child.

What about dogs trained for police, military, drug detection and Seeing Eye work? Are they worth more, less, as much?

Are Seeing Eye dog foster families chumps doing their work for free when others are being well paid to train dogs or are the chumps the people who pay so much for a security dog? If money were no object, would you depend on a trained dog to protect you, your home and family?

4 Responses to “Service of Pets II”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Suggesting that volunteers who train seeing eye dogs are “chumps” unfairly reflects on a venerable organization, the dogs and their “families.” Seeing eye volunteers are usually animal lovers who have the time, patience and resources to train dogs. The organization cannot and does not accept just anyone. There are a number of regulations which must be followed in order that future dog owners enjoy the reliability they have come to expect, and dogs failing to pass rigorous tests are released for adoption. Further, rates charged for those seeking a seeing eye dog have not changed since 1929 when the organization was established, and no one is turned away for lack of funds.

    As to people paying enormous sums for pets or security, who cares? A pet doesn’t know how much it costs and is not necessarily going to live up to its dollar sign. There is way too much reliance on costs rather than quality in this society. Perhaps the recession is not as bad a thing as it looks, since it may force a change in an abysmally stupid way of decision making.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree with you about Seeing Eye foster families. I commend and admire them and in fact I know one of them!

    I was hoping to also hear from the camp that would question their sanity to give away time, talent, resources, and love when others are paid dearly for similar work.

    As to your second point, recession or no, there will always be insecure people who feel that if they pay a lot—for a pet or a pair of socks**–“it has to be good,” or “people will admire me.” I’ve known them in any economy. In the case of a security pet, however, they may be getting anything but.

    **I saw wonderful men’s cotton short socks with a range of winsome summer motifs and stopped from reaching for my credit card when I found the pricetag: $48. They were nice, and many will buy them because they will think they are fabulous because they paid a bunch for them. For almost $50 I can do better than one pair or cotton socks. Arf.

  3. Peggy G. Said:

    In any economy, one’s pet can be priceless, guard or seeing eye dog, or whatever.

    In a free market economy like ours, where the rich have become far richer and middle class is rapidly being driven lower into near poverty, a dog is worth precisely what someone is willing to pay for it, a dollar or a half million dollars, but if you love the animal, then again it is also priceless. That’s the way the system works.

    Believe you me, I wouldn’t take nothing for my Spot!


  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    I’m with you, Peg,

    I am not sure that my husband would agree [he’d negotiate for visiting rights and take a discount] but my dogs were so dear to me as is my cat that I’d pass up $1 million ++ if someone offered it to me.

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