One Reason Why Pet Stores Stay in Business

One Reason Why Pet Stores Stay in Business

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...
Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, “His Master’s Voice” (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

I can’t say I’ve ever really connected with animals. I grew up in townhome suburbia where our family wasn’t allowed a dog, I may have accidentally been indirectly responsible for the death of my best friend’s pet rat, I was run over by a dog when I was eight, I certainly DID accidentally kill a pet beetle I had for all of a day (left his hand-made terrarium on the windowsill; he baked under the sun), and I worked for several years as a paperboy, alternately terrified of the larger dogs/cats or just annoyed by the tiny yippers.

(Okay, I’ll explain the rat story. I was tasked to look after the rat while their family was away on vacation. Every third day, I would show up at their place, clean out the cage, play with the rat, and give him new food and water. And that’s what I did. Then, right at the end of their vacation, there was one day when I looked after the rat (and he was fine), then a day’s break, and then the family came home. And the rat was dead. The darn thing WAS over three years old, after all. But yeah, my best friend and I didn’t really ever speak after that.)

English: Pet Chinchilla Русский: Домашняя Шиншилла
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only pet my family ever had was a lovebird. Think budgie, but he chirps a third as much, three times as loud. Really hard to get any work done while the bird’s awake.

So yes, animal empathy is something I’m working on. Something I need to work on. Living with four cats and a Pomeranian for seven weeks this past summer in Kelowna has certainly helped. But I have a lot further to go.

So one day I walked into a pet store to try to connect with all the little critters held within. To see if I could spark that ‘Awww, how cute!’ reflex upon seeing kittens pounce around the storefront window as an old man teases them with a red laser pointer, or the flock of rainbow-coated birds as they spread their sharp wings and let off shrill cries while climbing from wall to wall to wall of their cages. Or the spotted fishes in a tank marked ‘quarantine’. The old chinchilla warmly standing sentry under thick ruffles of hair.

I have a hard-nosed friend who approaches life in a rough and gruff manner, but whenever she comes across a dog being walked, she immediately melts into a crouch with a loud ‘Aww, puppy!’, regardless of the actual age of the animal. That was the emotion I was searching for. But try as I might, I couldn’t muster that irresistible pull toward baby talk and family bonds that others indulge in.

Cockatiel yawning
Cockatiel yawning (Photo: Wikipedia)

That said, I was struck by an impulse all the same – a desire to buy them. Not because I wanted to take these critters with me, but just to take them away from all the layered cages and loud noises, no matter how well lit or fed. Not that these animals would have better lives out in the wild (or the wild of the city), per say, but in this moment, those cockatiels were absolutely doing their darndest – in vain – to try to find enough space to flap about. And I suddenly understood perhaps half of all pet store transactions – a compassionate desire to help.

I am still emotionally detached from them; I take care not to attach human emotion to them, so I wouldn’t say the old chinchilla is lonely, for example, but I did find it hard to watch these trapped animals, such as four cockatiels in a tiny cage, and to not want to give them a home with open space to soar in. Found it hard not to want to set them free.

Even for analytical ol’ me.

Andrew Wade

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival Experience

I was asked to answer a few questions on my experience with the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, and thought I’d share my responses here.


Rockin' out to Tiger Woods1. What do you think of the opportunity to perform here?
This has been an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience – it really does feel like a ‘next step’ opportunity for me, to have a chance to step out from the community theatre world / Fringe theatre world and be paid to hone my craft not only as an actor, but as an assistant stage manager as well. I have invested a lot of time and money into this career (including a degree at UVic, and recently, some time with The National Voice Intensive), and to be chosen for this festival was honestly a relief – to know that I had the ability to be paid to do what I love.
Another reason this has felt like a ‘next step’ opportunity is the amount of support we actors have received, through billeting, introductions to the city, and other means. Working here has given me the confidence to, say, try to take another show on the road (such as perhaps aiming for a tour of Fringe Festivals).
I like the idea of outdoor venues, and I think we’ve got a great set up here. That said we did cancel two shows due to rain, and as an almost-Vancouverite, I’d be tempted to let the show go on, even when conditions are even a bit dicey. We had a great show that one performance where we went ‘unplugged’ because the audio equipment was too wet! Or shows can take a ten minute hiatus until weather improves. Or we can offer umbrellas or something. Take a risk. Make it an experience. Half of the joy of performing outside is that… well… it’s outside! Weather exists! We can work with that and create something unique.
Building the Theatre
2. What sort of impact does this opportunity/experience had on you? Your career? Finances?
I am hesitant to keep coming back to the financial angle, but I am approaching performing as a professional career, and part of that equation requires earning at least a decent chunk of one’s income within that profession. Prior to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I had broken even on a couple of Fringe shows, made a small amount of money in a playwriting competition, and earned 300$ performing at the UFV Director’s Festival, but other than these small successes, I had not yet found that elusive ‘paid theatre contract’. So this opportunity was like blessed manna from the heavens. And while the company may consider the rates to be humble, any paycheque I can earn doing theatre means I have more time in the future to devote to creating and pursuing more theatre, rather than needing to find my rent through a Joe job.
That ‘first opportunity’ is so important for an artist’s confidence. After I won a playwriting competition, I knew I had the ability in that field to create something worthwhile. But acting? Stage management? While I’ve earned a degree in the former and taken on a handful of jobs in the latter, I couldn’t until now point to them and say ‘yes, I have the chops to earn a living here.’
And to be honest? Perhaps the greatest benefit of the whole situation is now I have an amazing experience that I can point to whenever my mother says, ’I know this is something you enjoy, but how are you going to support yourself?’
3. How do feel about the whole experience?
I am over-the-moon grateful for this experience. I’ve now been in Kelowna for over a month – the longest I’ve ever traveled away from my homebases of Richmond and Victoria – and it has been a grand adventure, with two more weeks to go! A terrific growth experience to be sure, and one that I will always cherish.

Andrew Wade

Cast: Simon Mizera, Katey Hoffman, Alen Dominguez, Andrew Wade, and Jaclyn Nestman