Leave Marley in the Movies: Why Buying a Trendy Pet Makes No Sense

by Tisha Tolar on 7 January 2009 11 comments

Who doesn’t fall in love with the many animals featured in hit movies of today and years past? You may be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t want to adopt 101 cute spotted dogs or wish to cuddle with a little, talking Chihuahua but the reality is the animals we see in the movies or on television are simply not reality. As the movies continue to bring us “insight” into different types of lovable pets, parents are more inclined to run out and buy the same kind of animal to appease the kids without much thought into the expense, care, and time needed to truly love and nurture the real deal.

Every time a lovable critter makes it big in Hollywood, impulsive consumer demand causes a frenzy that often turns out bad for the real life "stars".  As quickly as they're scooped up from stores, they're abandoned at shelters.  These fads aren't just made up of four-legged Hollywood stars.  The colorful clownfish of Finding Nemo is facing extinction due to soaring demand.

With the new movie, “Marley & Me” already in theaters across the country, there is little doubt that many families will go on the hunt for an adorable Labrador Retriever with hopes of recreating scenes from the movie in their own homes. However wonderful a pet a Lab is in general terms, they will not be a perfect fit for every family. Beyond the expense of feeding, grooming, and providing appropriate medical care (insurance and vet visits), there are also other unforseen financial costs. For instance, what if your sweet-faced brand new puppy has a taste for your shoes, clothing, or furniture? Or needs a facelift?

Owning a pet is a serious responsibility, and there are many things to consider before bringing one home. You need to be fully prepared to invest in a pet and this includes time spent with said pet. If you do not do your research and buy an animal on a whim, you will likely be unhappily surprised at what happens to your life. Research will tell you plenty of information such as what kind of animal associates well with small children. Also, consider alternative pets that are low cost and low maintenance. For the cost of not doing proper research, you could have just took the whole family to the movies several times over to see a well-trained actor dog on the big screen instead of the brand-new puppy that ate your living room sofa.

If after taking the time to research and consider the cost of adding "Marley" to your family, or any other Hollywood star, wait a few weeks after the movie’s release date to head out to the shelters. Chances are very good that a number of other families thought they wanted a “Marley” dog too but things didn’t work out well, and the once-adorable puppy ends up at a shelter with several others who now desperately need homes.

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Guest's picture
Laura

A lot of times purebred pets are inbred in puppy mills. They have a lot of congenital problems. It is better, in my opinion, to get a mutt that needs a home for free.

Guest's picture

http://investrequest.com is the happy owner of a mixed breed mutt (Golden+Chow) that was rescued from the pound here in KY!

Please have your dogs sprayed and neutered.

InvestRequest.com

Guest's picture

While retrievers are fantastic dogs, they are not for everyone. These dogs are incredibly energetic, requiring lots of attention and exercise to be truly happy. Their behavior can be problematic if they are not fully involved and exercised. Many families are not ready for the time and energy investment required by these dogs. This can lead to behavior problems.

As always, I can recommend adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue before buying a dog from a breeder. Also, in the vein of this blog's purpose, it is far cheaper to spay or neuter your dog (or cat) than to care for any potential offspring and any associated health issues for intact pets.

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Kathryn

I agree that it's a bad idea to rush out and get a pet just because it looked cute in a movie, and obviously, one needs to consider the full range of expenses involved. But labs have been the most popular breed in the world, and have been for some time--and for pretty good reasons. So I don't think it's accurate to characterize them as trendy. By all means, educate yourself before you pick up a new pet! But if you're willing and able to make the financial and time commitment, a lab may be the perfect choice.

(Lest anyone think I'm being partisan, in the interest of full disclosure I am a beagle owner.)

Guest's picture
spaces

If you decide you HAVE TO have a specific breed then (you're wrong, but) you can find a breed rescue group and adopt a homeless animal through them. Just please, don't buy one.

Guest's picture
Diane

The right dog for one person/family may be totally wrong for another. Labs are a very popular breed, but are not right for every family - which is true of EVERY breed. Research the qualities of the breed first so you know what to expect. Just because a breed is "cute" does not mean it is something you'll want to live with.

Mixed breed dogs are fine too, although you may not know what you're going to get in terms of behavior. Be wary of adopting an older puppy or dog that is shy or fearful, unless you have a lot of skill, time and patience as it can be nearly impossible to overcome bad early experiences.

That is not a popular to admit, but early socialization is essential to the healthy development of a dog's personality. Some dogs are resilient and will recover from a rough start, but other never do. I've seen it many times and I'm watching my neighbor deal with this now in a puppy adopted from a shelter at 8 months of age.

A breed club rescue is less risky, but not all breeds have young dogs available for rescue. If you choose a less popular breed you're less likely to find a young rescue dog. If you're willing to take an older dog you'll find more choices.

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Olivia

I am the bad guy in the family, you know the one that said "I won't have a big dog in our house because I know in spite of the boys' admirable intentions, I'll be left to housebreak, walk, feed and groom it". So we got gerbils. Taking care of them (and their needs are quite minimal, just playing with them mostly) put the kabosh on a bigger animal.

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lucille

I saw this happen when the live action 101 Dalmations came out. People bought them as pets with no research and though they could just buy a dog feed it and do nothing more. Then as these dogs got older many of them became aggressive, the parents couldn't control the dogs and feared having them around their kids. You have to train a dog and socialize it. Some breeds need more than others.

Labs have to have a way to work off their energy or they will do things like chew the linoleum off your floor while you are not home.

If you insist on buying a purebred puppy get a contact from your local kennel club and only buy from someone who only breeds one breed and keeps the dogs at home.

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brista

It happens every Easter with rabbits, baby chickens, and baby ducks. And most of them end up going back to the pet store...or to the pound...or to "the farm."

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Guest

Great post! Many people adopt pets on a "whim" with the idea that if it doesn't work out they can just "get rid of him". It should be approached as a life time commitment and well researched. Of course what should we expect as marriages and children are often treated with this same mentality.

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Kaila

Well said! The dogs in movies are well trained animals, and someone has probably spent a lot of time working with them. I don't think a lot of people realize that having a dog requires work (unless you luck into a dog that is perfectly behaved from birth). Especially for labs!