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An Accessory to Crime: Purse Dogs

Jun 30, 2008
It seems we have Paris Hilton to thank for something beyond arrogant socialite self-indulgence. She has also spawned the trend of "purse dogs." Purse dogs are any teacup-sized breed which can be carried around in purse like a living accessory. These dogs are often dressed in $100 outfits and taken just about anywhere the owner frequents including restaurants, grocery stores and doctor offices. Those of us with larger dogs are supposed to keep them out of public places, but purse dogs are to be forgiven just because they're small.

Recently, I was talking with my vet about the purse dog trend. What she said she sees in her practice is that owners who have paid upwards to $1,500 to $2,000 to obtain one of these teacup puppies were unwilling to pay for even the most routine health care. Confronted with a treatment estimate, they would either let the dog suffer, turn it into a shelter or in the most irresponsible cases, even ask that the dog be put down.

Whether a dog is large or small, ownership comes with some inherent responsibilities. All dogs need to be exercised daily. That means they need to be walked, not toted around like so much luggage. They need room to stretch and play, not confined to a purse with limited mobility. They need to be kept safe from many household items that may be toxic to them. What happens if your purse dog ingests something you've left in your purse like an earring or chocolate? Trust me, after that, you'll probably want to throw that purse out.

Most important, when you adopt a dog, you promise to take care of him and that means you will provide routine and sometimes emergency veterinarian care throughout his life. You should also understand that just because you pay a lot for a dog, it does not guarantee the dog will be healthy all of its life.

Bernie, our first Airedale Terrier, was the sweetest, smartest and most lovable dog, but she was also the sickest. She had allergies, low thyroid and at 5, she contracted Valley Fever, a common fungal infection that comes from spores in the soil in the desert regions of the United States. At the time, it was not uncommon for both dogs and people to die of the infection and treatment was very expensive. Bernie needed two pills a day and 10 pills cost about $150 in the US. Some people might have given up at this point, but when our vet told us that we could get the medicine in Mexico for about a third of the price, we started making the more than 350 mile trek every three months for more than a year to get the medicine Bernie needed. This was not something we expected and at times, it was frustrating and inconvenient, but it was also our responsibility to care for her.

Bernie eventually recovered from the Valley Fever and lived a relatively healthy life for the remainder of her time. We were not heroes; we were just ordinary owners who knew our dog depended upon us for her care. So before you buy that adorable little teacup Yorkie or any other dog, be honest. Are you really willing to invest the time, energy and money it takes to care for a dog? To me, you're an accessory to a crime if you just expect to treat your dog as some superfluous bauble. And we'll always have Paris for that.
About the Author
Robin Reynolds is an award-winning writer who has more than 25 years of experience writing in a variety of formats. An Airedale Terrier lover since youth, Robin lives in Tempe, AZ with her husband, teenage son, and two Airedales. Visit Nice Creative and Life to Max.
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