How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?


As a young child, I loved this song simply because I loved dogs. I never thought much of the lyrics as it seemed harmless. It was an innocent and simple song. Recently, I heard the song being sung to my little one – the two-legged baby, not the four-legged furkid, and the lyrics hit me. The song was about getting a dog as company whilst she was away for a trip and also as a security measure.
At the time the song was written and recorded in 1952, I am sure there was nothing wrong with getting a dog for company or as a security measure. In a way, it is not wrong to do so now either. However, there are many cases of that being the dogs only purpose and hence, the dog is not treated with respect as long as it can carry out the intended purpose according to the said humans mind.
By having a dog for company or security, they mean the dog being leashed up 24/7 or housed in a cage so small that it does not have enough space to turn around in. If the dog grows bigger than expected (although if the dog is a purebred, prior research would have shown the breeds standard size), the dog is dumped. If the dog chews the leash out of boredom, it is punished and if it continues chewing shoes, it is abandoned. If it barks too much due to frustration, the dog is debarked. If the humans migrate, the dog is left behind many a time just leashed in an empty house. If the humans children have grown up and going away to university, the dog is given away or abandoned because there is no one to look after it. When the humans relationship breaks down, the dog (often bought or adopted when times were better and the humans lovingly refer to it then as their baby) is the victim as both parties part ways and neither wants to take responsibility for their baby. For many of these, a suggestion to treat the dog better would be met with an incredulous Im already providing the dog with a roof over its head and food! with no thought whatsoever to its other needs.
The dog is often treated as an object, rather than a loyal and loving animal who has entrusted humans with everything. That is why I am more sensitive about the lyrics of this song now. Because people would get the dog for temporary company and then discard it when no longer needed. Or deprive the dog of human company in its early years so that it will later be a good guard dog and bark ferociously at all humans. This is my issue with the lyrics of the song as it applies to the current world we live in.
Puppy mills may not have been en masse as they are now. The above problems are perpetuated even further as the puppy grows up and is no longer the cute and small puppy and so again, it is discarded.
Referring to the dog in the window of the pet shop is also now synonymous with puppy mills; issues for which will have to be for another post. Because of this, Patti Page recorded a revised version of this song; this time entitled Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter. This is the version I will be singing to my little one and will be teaching him to treat dogs with love, respect and integrity; with this, to adopt or foster the abandoned ones at the shelter especially those written off as no-hope.

Do you see that doggie in the shelter
the one with the take me home eyes
If you give him love and attention
he will be your best friend for life

In each town and city across the nation,
there’s so many dogs with no home
Hungry with no one to protect them
lost in this world all alone

Do you see that doggie in the shelter
the one with the take me home eyes
If you give him love and attention
he will be your best friend for life

Collies and beagles by the roadside
puppies and dogs in the street
Once they are rescued by a shelter
they’ll finally have something to eat

Doggies and kitties who are homeless
with sad eyes and tails hanging down
Let’s do what we can to show them kindness
and let them know they’ve been found

Do you see that doggie in the shelter
the one with the take me home eyes
If you give him love and attention
he will be your best friend for life



Jessica Ng

Grew up wanting dogs, thanks to the four-legged friends and heroes depicted in story books. Our first family dog was welcomed into our home when I was 13, and aside from the time spent in UK studying and working, I've always had dog(s) around since. Through them, I've learnt so much and am still learning about life and ironically, humanity.

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