Karen B. London
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Espresso Anyone?
How about a puppy?

Have you ever seen a sign in a store that says: “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy”? This sign is getting more common where I live and many places online actually sell them. Of course, the idea is that parents will end up with a nightmare on their hands if they don’t follow through on their responsibility to monitor their children while shopping.

A friend of mine is very offended by anyone joking about a puppy being given away to punish parents. I didn’t take it that way at all. I take it as a joke based on the fact that a child hyped up on a massive dose of caffeine would create a lot of work for a parent, as would a new puppy. Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility and a huge time commitment. In my opinion, this sign acknowledges what a big deal it is to get a puppy and that it should not be taken lightly.
I always have to resist the urge to try to impersonate a child and then say to an employee of the store, “My parents are letting me wander around in here by myself. I’ll take that espresso now.”
Does this sign offend you or cause you to chuckle?



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.


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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | July 22 2010 |

This is funny to me because I always sort of thought of the sign as a reward for leaving kids unattended, which, of course, makes no sense but I always thought: What could be better than coffee and a puppy? Isn't that what kids want. Now I get it.

Submitted by Frances | July 23 2010 |

I know if that sign had been around when I was a child, I would have been wandering off at every opportunity! I might even have drunk the coffee, if it was the only way to get the puppy.

Submitted by CJ | July 25 2010 |

Having just survived my dog's puppyhood, that sign would strike terror in my heart. I don't have kids yet but I vividly recall how much trouble my little brother could get into (my pup seemed to be a furry embodiment of his curiosity/penchant for destruction), especially hyped up on sugar. Add a puppy and espresso? That threat would be enough to get me to behave, ha ha.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 26 2010 |

I had not seen the part about giving the child the 'espresso' or 'puppy'. At my vet the sign says, "Unattended children will be given a kitten." Actually the 'puppy' is funnier because it takes a lot more work to raise a puppy than a kitten, IMHO.

Submitted by L.B.Huck | July 29 2010 |

I love this sign! It makes most people laugh & think. By the simple fact that you took the time to ponder it beyond a chuckle in the store shows that it is effective. It encourages appropriate behavior on many levels...who could ask for more?

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