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For the record it isn’t really Costco that I hate (or fill in any other super sized membership club here) it is the other customers that are at Costco when I am at Costco. I am not quite sure when it became okay to just leave your cart in the middle of the aisle and wander around without a thought about anyone else needing to get pass by. I am all good with the snack bar out front but the samples in the store create nothing but a traffic jam, and if you saw the same 60 minutes episode I did you wouldn’t eat that stuff. I NEVER eat the samples at Costco. When I was a kid the rule was that you had to have one hand on the cart at all times – and I mean all times. There was no climbing on the shelving or ducking behind a pallet of dog food, or screaming. Screaming was never acceptable. Oh that’s right, that is when parents were parents and not their kid’s friend. Sigh, I long for those days. I would like to propose one day a month or maybe just fours one day a month to be child free, so that I can shop in peace but I digress.

Now that you suffered through my soapbox it should come to you as no surprise that I do everything and I mean everything I can to avoid going to Costco. I even have a great girlfriend who tries to spare me this task and goes for me whenever she can. Dave would rather just go without me than deal with me shenanigans. Hazah! I think I may have finally found the most perfect solution for making a trip to Costco doable – raise a service dog!  For those of you like-minded people here is how it works:

  • You go on a day that it is way to hot to have your pup walk across the never-ending expanse of black top. This way you can dropped off at the curb.
  • Then you hang out in front practicing down stays so your pup can get acclimated to the sounds of the people and shopping carts. This is especially important if it is your pup’s first trip to Costco. Don’t worry about having enough time, your partner will need plenty of time to travel across the afore mentioned  parking lot.
  • Once inside decide half way in that it would probably be best if you and the pup camped out in the middle of the store, again practicing down stays, where the lawn furniture is.
  • Then decide that the checkout area is a little to congested for a young pup and offer to wait outside and practice more down stays.
  • While your waiting for your partner to load the truck and drive around to get you, you can walk down to the auto bay. The premise is to let your pup safely experience some crazy new sounds. The real reason is to see a ton of macho mechanic types become crazy little kids wanting to pet the puppy and making cute sounds.

It was the best trip to Costco I have ever had. Period.

In all seriousness taking puppies on outings is not only a very important part of puppy raising, but requires a lot of work and thought. We are very aware that we are taking our pups out on what we call pup appropriate trips. Rather than just saying that oh my puppy is this old and she can now (fill in the blank) it is really more about knowing each puppy. It is also about knowing your puppy everyday, just like people they have good days and bad days.

You need to know what your dog can handle. For example Cate has been walking with me in an urban downtown setting everyday since she was eight weeks old. That means we meet an eclectic group of people during our outings, light rail trains, fire trucks, and of course squirrels. (I think Sacramento may have the worlds largest population of tree squirrels.) While she no longer finds any of this remotely interesting a year old country dog may not know what to do with himself. This is why it is much more about the individual dog than anything else. If you really know your dog its body language will tell you when things aren’t kosher. You should listen to your dog.

Cate is a plucky little puppy and pretty much her mother’s daughter. (Read: beyond cute, suborn, and smart.) To date she is pretty bomb proof, but we try to set her up to success every time we go out. We are always willing to ditch the trip if seems too much or turns out not to be what we expected. It is certainly easier to do stuff because there are two of us. Our typical strategy is that one of us is doing the errand and the other is on puppy raising duty. That way while we are get our daily socialization in we can also procure a 50 gallon drum of salad dressing, grab the dry cleaning, or get the oil changed all in one fail swoop.

Tomorrow will be another first for Cate, but this is one I love: the beach. I can find twice as many reasons to go to the beach as I can to get out of going to Costco. I can hardly wait.

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