By Sonya Rehman
Outside my office, on the bulletin board, hung a distressing poster.
A boy was selling his 2-year old dog (not sure of the breed) for Rs. 50,000. On the poster, the boy stated that he hoped to find Spike a ‘good’ home. I almost turned around and walked back into my office, when I went back to the poster, knelt down to read the boy’s contact number, and continued by punching his digits into my cell phone. I was going to call him.
After a few rings, the boy picked up – his voice thick with sleep. I told him that selling off his pet dog to the highest bidder wouldn’t guarantee a good home. I suggested that he re-think Spike’s ‘price tag’ as I looked at the dog’s endearing photos on the poster.
My heart almost broke. The boy, sounding a little defensive by now, said that whoever can shell out 50 grand is bound to take good care of Spike – given the amount of money spent on the dog.
Suggesting a few other alternatives, I let it go, considering the irritation that was beginning to creep into the tone on the other end of the line.
Hanging up, I sat back onto my swivel chair and remembered this one time, a few years ago, when I drove past a massive, opulent house in Gulberg (in Lahore) that had two adult Cocker Spaniels huddled close together on a patch of grass outside the house’s main gate.
That day, I found out via the security guard (who worked at the house), that the dogs had been recently chucked out of the house. “But why?” I’d asked, baffled. “Because sahib can’t take care of them anymore,” the guard had said, equally puzzled, while shrugging his shoulders.
The Spaniels, both male and female, had deep, chocolate brown coats which glinted with hints of maroon in the sunlight. They were flea-ridden, and under-nourished.
Over the years, I’ve encountered many educated, well-to-do families who’ve gotten rid of their pets after adopting them for a year or so. It enrages me to no end. Why do people keep pets if they’re eventually going to dump their animals on the side of the road, to fend for themselves? Why?
And then, there are those who keep pets, but after the novelty of the pet’s cuteness has run out, they begin to mistreat and neglect the animal. Soon enough, the dog, or cat, winds up with a fatal disease, flees from the house and is eventually run over by a speeding vehicle.
That’s the trouble with us – we think of breed dogs and cats as status symbols. To flaunt. To complement the furniture. We forget that once we adopt an animal, it becomes our responsibility. As long as the pet doesn’t defecate, fall sick and shed fur – we’re happy. And we think, if someone is willing to spend 50,000 bucks on a pet, the buyer must certainly be responsible, and ‘good’.
Because, after all, everything comes with a price. I really hope Spike finds a good home.
The Express Tribune Blog