Aug 1, 2023

“Hi. My name is Don and I’ve been in retail for 12 years.”

“Hi Don!”


“I’ve owned a pet supply store and been exposed to the general public after having a cush, well-compensated engineering job rehabilitating earth dams on the west coast. At that time, I had a wife who loved me and the respect of my peers and superiors. Now I cater to people with the IQs of doorknobs and wish I was a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

“Thanks, Don!”

“Let me start by talking about the most depraved aspect of owning a pet supply store– Insane People who bring their dogs into the shop. Of course I have to qualify this by saying I don’t hate everyone who brings their dog in my shop. I’m not saying to stop bringing your dogs in the shop. Quite the contrary, I love your Little Buddies! More than you, most people would agree.


“You may well ask, ‘What’s the difference between Insane People and us?’

“There are certain rare-types of Cro-Magnons who bring their dogs into my shop who make me wish I was a jellyfish with no senses, drifting along in warm seas and stinging people to death with my toxin-filled barbed tentacles.

“I shall now detail these Cro-Magnon types for you in the hope you use personal reflection and a take a deep, personal inventory of yourself to avoid becoming one.”

“Thank You, Don!”

1) The Jackass


The Jackass never actually comes into the shop, and they usually have retractable leashes.

They are walking by, but somehow allow their dog to stare into the shop at the front door. Jackass’s dog whines. I bring my dogs behind the counter so they can come in. People with smaller dogs pick them up to let them in. People trying to get into the shop can’t because the door is blocked.

The Jackass laughs. He’s being withholding to his dog!!!! It’s hilarious that his dog wants to come in! But he won’t let them! He’ll just let his dog in our doorway!!! And everyone in the shop is trying to accommodate him!!! And no one can come into or leave the shop!!! Hahahaha!


When the Jackass has given his dog enough socialization, he jerks on his dog’s leash and says curtly, “LET’S GO.”

Then he jerks on the retractable leash a couple more times, even if his dog is obeying him. This is so the dog understands who is the boss in their relationship.

I’ve even had Jackasses stand outside with their dog and make faces at Max until Max charged out the door at him. This is a PERSON and NOT a dog. It was the only time Max ever did anything like that. Of course the Jackass was shocked and said I had a vicious dog. I gave him the piece of my mind that had a lot of swears and colorful phrases that accused him of being a solitary generation away from eating his own young. I secretly wished Max was more vicious that day.

He was a local. He never came back. I never apologized to him even though I see him at various bars and restaurants around town.

2) The Cavalier


This person crashes into the shop with their large dog and sets everyone on edge. They also get miffed when I beg them to hold their dog back until everyone in the shop can get their dogs under control.

Why are they miffed? Brain damage or an ingrained sense of entitlement, probably.

I remember one woman barging into the shop with her frenzied 80lb Weimaraner. I politely asked her in a loud voice to wait until I got my dogs in back of the counter. She screeched back “OH MY GAWD! ARE YOUR DOGS VICIOUS!?!?!?!”

I screamed back, “YES! THEY JUST MAULED SOMEONE!!!!! RUN!!!!!!!

“OH MY GAWD!!!!! She screeched again. “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE, GHOST!!!”


I let the boys back out on the floor. Customers were gleeful and gave each of my dogs a treat from the free-treat bowl. A little boy even clapped.

3) The Conspiracy Theorist

These people come in with their dogs under several layers of constraint; prong collars, Gentle Leaders, pepper spray, and always short, sharp yanks on a short leash for no apparent reason. The Conspiracy Theorist usually issues an “NOOoooo….” to their dog as it gets within a foot of the treat bins.

Then they walk the entire store, the leash being yanked whenever the dog shows the least interest in anything.

I actually put the treat bins on the floor so well-behaved dogs could choose what they wanted. We got the idea from this great pet store in Sanibel where we would bring Max, Auggie, and Coal for a treat after a hard day of staying in the house as Liana and I sampled every margarita on the island.

The dogs loved it. And they would choose different things on different days. They were mixing things up and loving it, and we wanted the same for our shop.

But The Conspiracy Theorist thinks we specifically put the treat bins on the floor so I’ll come running up to them and scream in their face, “YOUR DOG JUST DROOLED ON A LAMB EAR!!!!!! YOU OWE ME $1.75 PLUS TAX!!!!”

The Conspiracy Theorist extrapolates that if he doesn’t fork up the $1.85 for the lamb ear I’ll call the cops. And if his dog so much as drools on the floor, I’ll demand a $500 cashiers check to keep his name out of his hometown paper. And if his dog pees in my shop, I’ll sue him for six-figures on “Hot Bench.”

Of course they’re out of their U.S. sub/urban element and feel like they’re attending a Third-World Bazaar in Boothbay Harbor with schucksters and people who eat dogs abound.

When The Conspiracy Theorist finally leaves, everyone in the shop feels sorry for Conspiracy Theorist’s dog.

4) The Jester


They feel the need to introduce their large, berzerk dog to everyone and everydog in the shop whether anydog wants to meet him or not. That’s when the smaller dog owners and shoppers with children feel the need to pick up and leave.

Like “The Cavalier,” The Jester barrels into the shop under the pretense their huge dog is completely out of control and it’s the funniest thing since someone slipped on a banana peel.

One time Auggie was out drinking from the water bowl when one of these Jesters came in. I said nicely and firmly to the Jester, “HOLD ON! Please let me get my dog behind the counter!” Then I called for Auggie.


This Jester let his 80lb dog run up behind Auggie peacefully drinking at the water bowl. After the initial shock, Auggie was gone. I kept calling for him. Auggie isn’t aggressive. But he doesn’t tolerate other dogs in his face. And unfortunately, he’s almost deaf.

Then the Jester let his dog right up into Auggie’s face. Auggie was surprised and trapped. He tried to get back to me. “He’s Friendly!” the Jester called out several times with lessening conviction.


There was clearly no escape for Auggie. His hackles rose. He bared his teeth. He stared directly into the eyes of The Jester’s dog’s “Friendly” eyes.

I had the responsibility to be calm and give Auggie a way out of this idiot’s personal joke before it got out of hand.

Any other person would have understood Auggie’s body language and brought their dog back, but the Jester let his dog get closer and closer despite my loud objections. I saw a thin smile on his face. I think The Jester thought it was funny to see Auggie perturbed. Or maybe he fancied himself a second-rate Cesar Milan or Victoria Stillwell who could cure Auggie of his “grumpiness” solely by having his hilarious dog in Auggie’s face.

Auggie’s tail was straight up. Along with the other signs he’d displayed, he was definitely going to bite this dog in the face. All poor Aug wanted to do was what I told him to do – get back to me.


I came out on the floor and screamed at The Jester, “PULL YOUR DOG BACK, YOU A$$ի֎LՅ!!!” His thin smile drained. This never happened to him in Petco.

I got between the two dogs and nudged his dog out of Auggie’s face with my foot and knee. Auggie scuttled back behind the counter, looking furtively behind him the entire time.

The Jester miraculously got control of his dog and said, “I guess I won’t be buying anything here.”

“Not even when you come back…..” I yelled after him.

Auggie was on his bed looking enormously guilty. I sat down next to him and rubbed his ears. Then I gave him a treat. I went out and apologized to the customers still in the shop. Most said they wanted to kick The Joker in the goolies and they were glad he was gone.

5) NO Owner

These people differ from Conspiracy Theorists in that they get great pleasure in being withholding. They are probably the most dour group of people who come into the shop except for my employees.

The NO Owner’s dog is usually very well trained and respectful, but the second it sticks out its nose to sniff something, the The NO Owner says, “NO” and jerks the leash sharply.

The dog gets yelled at if they show even the slightest interest in anything, including the floor, water bowl or people.

I always feel bad for these dogs, and try to offer them a little treat from my personal stash of soft venison or duck. Nine times out of ten, The NO Owner will refuse it on the grounds that they don’t want their dogs to get fat like mine. These are the same people who think every bulldog they see is overweight.

The NO Owner leaves after he has a chance to deny everything in the shop his dog is interested in. I’m sure his arm is sore from yanking at his dogs neck.

Poor dog.

6) NOT a Doggie Daycare

The Doggie Daycare Owner brings their dog to busy places like Petco and L.L. Bean to socialize them to hubbub, loud noises, and over-exuberant people who want to monopolize your precious time on this earth by prattling on about how much their great aunt loved fondue (true story). It’s actually a great thing to do with your dog in those gigantic, linoleum-floored, fluorescent-lit behemoth stores. I recommend it with any dog.

However, when those people get to our wood-cased 500-square-feet of retail dynamite, that’s when they realize why those stores have linoleum flooring. Their dog can really get some traction on wood. Yes, they can.

Let me stop here and say that I have no problem with people socializing their dogs in my shop. But those people need to understand the limitations of my shop and be respectful of them:

  1. Dogs can smell at least 100,000 times better than we Bipeds can. That means when you walk into our shop, you smell one smell. Your dog smells the thousands of individual scents that composes the single smell you experience. Not only are they smelling the treats, they’re smelling all the dogs that have been in my shop for the last month as well as the strong scent of my own dogs. Most dogs are OK with it when it’s not crowded, but for some dogs it’s very disorienting. For others it’s absolutely terrifying. Understand the difference and please don’t force your dog to like my shop.
  2. Not only is your dog smelling lots of other dogs, they’re smelling an immensely treat-rich environment. Some dogs have a tendency to guard those treats. Others dogs want to eviscerate any rival to get the treats. Others want no part of it.
  3. My shop is very small. Unlike the huge antiseptic venues above, it unnaturally forces dogs to greet face-to-face. This is natural in the human world, but it is considered aggressive between dogs. I don’t care how mellow your dog is. Every dog has their limit.
  4. If you bring your dog into my shop without a leash I will shoot you in the back of your head with our new “Bug-a-Salt” fly killer. My shop is NOT a place for wild spirits to roam free and activate my insurance plan. It is NOT a Doggie Daycare.
  5. My dogs are very well socialized and I know you love them, but they cannot socialize your dog in my shop. It is their territory and they can get possessive of it. Even Fudgie. It can also get chaotic in a heartbeat. Let’s make a play date for the beach. Fudgie would love that.
  6. NO, you cannot use my bathroom.

7) Rare Breeders

Berner Niederlaufhund — LOOKS LIKE A HOUND TO ME

We used to get a lot of these people when we first opened the shop. They would send us an email saying they were bringing over their Magyar Agár or Pražský Krysařík or Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.

They spoke to us on the phone like we should be very, very excited to see one of the only <<<RARE DOG BREED HERE>>> left in THE ENTIRE WORLD. I would agree and told them to definitely bring them by.


When the day came for the Tazy (or whatever) to make an appearance, the shop was almost always completely empty. Hoo-boy were some pretentious rare-breed people pissed at me when they found out I was just a dinky little hole in the wall tourist trap at the end of the world. But I never promised them anything, so the only thing they could be angry at is their lack of thoroughness and preparation. Or at least that’s what I told them.


Anyway, all their Rare Breed dogs mostly looked like an arrangement of shelter dogs to me.

We also got a lot of people who wanted to show off their “Award Winning” Stud/Dame <<<RARE BREED>>> at our shop. Their dogs usually had AKC names as long as a German lunch option (i.e. Donaudampf-schiffahrt-selektrizitätenhaupt-betriebswerk-bauunterbeamten-gesellschaft). Of course I agreed because I love dogs. And these people thought it was great that I didn’t charge them anything.

Then they’d show up with long-term things like coolers and beach seats. They were distraught that I wouldn’t let them and their dog camp in my 500sqft shop and unimpressed with the lawn across the shop. They rarely stayed past noon.

8) Fake Service Dogs

These are the most pathetic dog owners I can imagine. They take advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act so they can bring their dogs into restaurants, stores and airplanes. And their dogs are usually reactive little beasts with marginal training and bad attitudes.


The owners walk around with impunity because they (erroneously) think business owners can’t ask what their disability is or question the validity of their Service Dog.

These people come into my shop and ask if I sell Service Dog Vests. They must think I’m stupid. As if I’d sell fake Service Dog Vests in a small town where I know most of the restaurant owners and managers personally.


I usually do something dickish like ask for their ADA papers. When (of course) they don’t have them, they say they don’t have to provide the nature of their disability. I agree, but say I’ll need papers proving the dog was trained with an ADA accredited Service Dog training program.


I will never forget the woman with an English accent who came into my shop with 20lbs of loud, reactive dog on the end of a retractable leash with a “Service Dog” vest.

The dog started out by barking incessantly at the snoring 14-year-old, deaf, Buddy in his Barrel Bed. The woman took the leash off her “Service Dog” and let it run all over my shop as she fiddled endlessly with the merchandise.

Her dog peed twice and took a dump in my shop. The owner never offered to clean anything up. And she didn’t react when I told her that she had to have her dog on a leash in my shop. As if in response, her enormously irritating dog began shrilly barking at me as I was cleaning up its excrement. Physically, I was NOT guilty of kicking both this woman and her dog squarely in the buttocks. But I was completely guilty of doing it mentally.

These are the kinds of psychopaths who don’t care anything about anyone else. And they certainly don’t care that they are making life much more difficult for disabled people whose lives are difficult enough.

So you can see I’m a very, very angry young man.

3 replies on “RETAILERS ANONYMOUS – by Don”

Great article and unfortunately so true. I especially dislike people who try to pass off their dog as a “service dog.” It has become problematic for people who have disabilities and truly need their well trained and invaluable service dog.

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