Bug,  house-sitting,  The Zoo


Can I go home with you?

We rented a puppy today. Well, not really. We just borrowed him for half an hour. There is a pet store nearby that allows you to walk any puppy they have for a dollar. You get an official badge that says “Puppy Exerciser.” It’s a lot of fun for you and the dog.

silly dog

It also helped me remember why I don’t want a puppy because I forget every now and then. Puppies are so hyper and they don’t really know how to walk on a leash right away. They take years of training. Much more than half an hour.


We instantly fell in love. Bug adored him even though he wanted to herd us like a bunch of cattle. He constantly would jump up and nip Bug’s jacket if she didn’t walk fast enough. Which is totally understandable because I often want to nip at her to make her go faster too. The only way we could get him to go anywhere was if Bug ran ahead so he could chase after her.


So we named him Chaser. We also named him Scratcher and Jumper and Yelper and Carmel and a bunch of other names. We tried them all on while we daydreamed about what it would be like to take him home to keep if only we had a yard…

mall walker

We walked Chaser around the mall as best we could. Mostly we just stopped and let other people pet him and exclaim over his cuteness. I can totally see why guys get puppies to meet girls. We met all sorts of girls…and boys and older people. It was an eye-opening way to spend a half-hour at the mall.

We met a man who used to run a ranch. He was older and stooped but he had a big shiny belt buckle with a horseshoe on it so I believed him. He looked like a rancher. He couldn’t talk long, his wife was pulling him toward some sale but I knew he wanted to. “Australian Shepherds are the smartest dogs alive,” he told us. He looked sad like maybe he’d had several Australian Shepherds in his life and he missed them.

Another man circled around us in a motorized wheelchair. Between coughing fits he told us that it’s a scientific fact that pets can lower your blood pressure. His doctor had practically ordered him to get a dog but he didn’t have one. His wife had a bird and apparently that was enough. He also had a lot to say about puppy mills and how mutts from the pound are much better pets. I believe him. I already knew that but it didn’t make me love Chaser any less. Chaser can’t help it that he’s inbred and costs way too much. He’s just a cute puppy.

best friends for the day

When our half hour was up I knew it would be hard to say goodbye. Bug started crying even before we had turned him in. I don’t think it’s the pet store’s intention to get you to fall in love with a puppy so you drop hundreds of dollars and take him home (though I’m sure that happens). I think it’s just a really great way for the dogs to get some exercise and learn to socialize with people. These dogs are probably the most socialized dogs around. I would think that is a good thing but I’m not sure.

taking five

Is it as hard for them to say goodbye as it was for us? I’m hoping not. Bug cried and cried. She’s been talking about him all day. I told her we could ask Daddy if we could get a dog but I know that isn’t an option while we live in the apartment we do. Chaser needs lots of space to run and I don’t think our cats would take kindly to herding. But even though it was bittersweet to say goodbye I still think it was a fun thing to do. Who knows, maybe we’ll go back another day and take him for another walk.

puppy love

I have a feeling that someday…some year…we’ll get a dog like this and maybe we’ll name him Chaser too.


  • Jamie

    He is a adorable, I would be sad to give him back too. I totally understand the whole space for them to play and run though. Poor Bug! :(

  • nikkapotamus

    He’s so cute! I had an Australian Shepherd once too. And yup, they need LOTS of space. She used to herd our shoes together into a pile because we didn’t have any cats or sheep or horses for her to herd.

    I love the idea of dog walkers! I wonder if I can convince our local pet places to do something similar.

    One last comment, I just love the pic of Bug next to one very tuckered out puppy! Such a sweet face (on both of them!)

  • mar

    You should check with your local shelter. Ours has days when they have big walks with all of the dogs and volunteers – very much fun!

  • Jamie

    After hearing about Heather and Jon Armstrong’s experiences raising Coco (a miniature Australian sheperd), I am fairly confident I will never, EVER get one. Too much work. But they are damn cute, aren’t they?

    I think it’d be so great if you and Bug went back and walked a different puppy every time – it would be such a wonderful lesson for her about pets, and appreciating differences, and would help her not to get too attached to Chaser.

    Also, I second Mar’s suggestion – shelters are always happy to have folks come in and volunteer as walkers.

  • Shannon

    This may be the cutest story ever. The Bug/puppy combo just puts it over the top! I wish we had a rent-a-puppy here. Our humane society is so overrun with volunteers that you have to work there a year before you get to walk the puppies.

  • Monique

    too cute! the both of them (Bug and Chaser)! if you’re ever in NH i’d be more than happy to borrow out one of my pups. i think it’s great that the store lets people exercise they’re pups, such a good idea!

  • Megan

    Wow – that idea kind of terrifies me. The petstore has no way of knowing how the dog walkers treat the puppies – you risk some fairly messed up dogs. I’m sure you and bug were awesome with the puppy though… but as you said pet stores don’t exactly care about the welfare of dogs.
    Cute pup though.

  • Red Lotus Mama

    I so need to do this with Princess D! She wants a puppy so badly and I have devised a plan to delay, but this might just hit that spot for a little while. Hmmmm …

  • Uncle George

    Uh, B, the pet shop DOES do this so you fall in love and can’t refuse to buy the puppy. Sorry. Oh well, it’s good for the dog and the walkers who have enough strength to not take the pup home. It would be near impossible for me to leave it at the shop.

    Yeah, Border Collies are pure working dogs and must be active all the time…Working! Very very smart, almost as smart as our Hans. (Long Haired Dacshund).

  • Janna from Honeyed Hashette

    We have an Australian Shepherd named Boomer and he is THE SMARTEST dog and he is laid back. In fact, he has always been laid back. He’s sweet, snuggly and wonderful with children. By the time he was 6 months old he was potty trained, leash trained and could sit, lay down, and speak. I adore him and we will never have any other kind of dog. If I could clone him or help him live forever I would. He makes me smile and my heart happy.

    If you ever have a yard, you should definitely consider an Aussie. You won’t regret it.
    Boomer even has one blue eye. Sigh.

    I want to go home right now and snuggle him.
    I am SO glad you and Bug got to play with that sweet puppy. You would be excellent puppy parents.

  • BeachMama

    I think I commented on your flickr page that Chaser looks exactly like my first dog did when he was a puppy only chocolate in colour. My Cosmo was a Collie-lab mix, but looked just like this little guy. I miss Cosmo. We still have Mickey a huskey, but he is lonely without his brother. Both our guys were from the store/puppy mill, Cosmo turned out OK, Mickey you can tell was over bred and mistreated by his first owner. Dogs are wonderful, I love them to bits and am sad to know that Hubby doesn’t want any more after Mickey leaves us.

    If Bug really liked the puppy walking thing, maybe you guys could advertise in your area and get a client or two to walk their dogs. Either daily or just for certain times. I know a few people who do that so they can be with dogs without having to own one.

    Have fun!

  • Jennifer

    I love the tuckered pup with Bug pic too. Oh, my heart squeezed a little at the idea of Bug crying and not wanting to let her new buddy go back. Awww.

    My cousin absolutely adores Australian Shepherds. She has two of them. Maybe I can arrange for Bug to have a playdate with Lily (my cousin’s dog) :) She lives in South OC.

  • Andrea

    Great photos! You capture so many awesome childhood moments. I am curious what the pet shop does to make sure you bring back their dog?

  • vanessa

    extremely cute. but as an animal person, i must tell you (sorry) that pet shops that sell dogs are horrible, horrible places. the worst. they usually get their puppies from puppy mills, which are basically humanity at its worst, and…its just not good.
    but a shelter might let you walk puppies too…
    sorry, i’m a total downer about this one topic, but not that many people know about the dark side of pet store pups…

  • Becca

    You are much stronger than me! I would have been melting down with Bug and would have begged to bring him home. He is ADORABLE and it looks like she had soooo much fun with Chaser.