Monday, September 15, 2008

The Pampered Pooch

I have said before that some of the best observations on the human condition can be made at the grocery store. This weekend's grocery shopping trip was no exception. I shop at Safeway, which although it has soul-crushingly poor customer service (more on that later), I continue to patronize because it is conveniently located, and carries most of the things that I need at an acceptable price.

On my shopping list this week were dog food, rawhide bones, and what we refer to as "crate-up treats." One need only rattle the Snausages bag and the dogs both dive for their crates in anticipation of clamping their jaws around the sausage treats. As I lingered in the Pet Needs aisle of Safeway, my eye was caught by a new refrigerated display featuring gourmet meats for the dog that just can't subsist on plain dry kibble. While not something that I personally intend to do, I congratulate those that will take the time and money to prepare so-called raw foods for their dog in order to maximize their nutrition. If you think about it, wild canids don't subsist on a diet of little dry nuggets of God-knows-what. They eat hunks of raw meat that they tear off of the bones of freshly killed mammals and birds. If you recreate that at home, more power to you.

What I don't understand is this:

In natural spearmint and lemongrass flavors! That's where, as a dog-owner you loose me. What dog, even those ultra-pampered rat-sized purse dogs, needs anything other than a clean bowl of city tap water to satisfy its thirst? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wild dogs aren't stopping at Starbucks to purchase and sip an expensive filtered water after their meal of caribou. Even the most spoiled pooch is happy to lap muddy water out of a curbside puddle or even your open toilet if it gets a dry mouth.

And while I'm on the subject of pet diets, does it strike you as a little odd that PETA wants people want to feed their dogs and cats vegetarian food? If you want to practice a vegan lifestyle, why not choose a naturally herbivorous animal like a canary or a hamster as a companion, rather that trying to impose your doctrine on your carnivorous pet. If you believe in avoiding cruelty to animals, maybe you should look into what malnutrition does to an animal.

And finally, on the subject of customer service. While I was at the checkout stand, the lackadaisical checkout clerk ran my Tide and my free range chicken broth over the scanner and found that they did not have prices encoded in the system. Being the enthusiastic employee he was, he turned to me and in an irritated tone of voice asked, "Do you know how much these cost?" I answered that I did not, thinking to myself that as an employee of this grocery store, isn't it YOUR job to know how much the items cost? By the time he has scanned the rest of my items, the bagger had placed all of my items in my cart. The checkout clerk turned to me again, looking more irritated, and asked, "Where did that stuff come from? I tried to scan the organic juice and the other stuff. Do you know where you got it?" Flustered, I scanned my mind for exactly which organic juice I had purchased. After feverishly rummaging through the bags in my cart, we were able to locate the Tide and broth (which he had mistaken for juice) and I directed the bagger to where, in the store at which both of these people are paid to work, I had found the items. A full five minutes later, the line of impatient people behind me getting longer all the while, the bagger strolled back with my items and their prices. This is only one of a long string of incidents at Safeway that have demonstrated that customer service is a very low priority at this store. And having the checkout clerks struggle each week to pronounce my name (Mrs..... Darken??? ThankyouforshoppingatSafewayhaveaniceday.) does nothing to change my mind.

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