The New Pet Attitude

While my family has not had any pets for the past 40+ years it can hardly go without notice that something has changed in the world of pets and their relationship with their owners over the past 50 years or so.

When changes happen across an entire society, and it has never happened before in recorded history, one has to ask, “Why?”, and “Why now?”

Before we get into the ‘why’ and ‘why now’ we need to understand a few things that are different.

One, we have moved from ‘pet owners’ to ‘pet parents’.  This term is more endearing, and tells of a more intimate and caring relationship.  When pet owners move from being just owners of property (the law still looks at pets as property, but look for that to change, too) to parents, everything changes.

Two, there are more avenues for purchasing products for pets – Pet Smart has revolutionized how we purchase things for pets.  There are pet furniture stores, pet entertainment stores, pet exercise companies, pet vacation companies, along with all the other pet related businesses – pet foods, pet health care, pet cemeteries, pet therapy (think dog whisperers), pet shows, etc…

Now, businesses get created and grow because of creating a product or service that is in demand.  And, the business for pet related products and services has never been better.

So, what has happened?  How did pets go from being property, and kept in the backyard, to becoming part of the family and enjoying a completely different life-style and relationship with their owners/parents?

I’m sure historians and psychologists would differ from my analysis, but I think I may know why.

It has more to do with the rise in human relationship failures over the past 50 years, then it does with the pets, or pet product providers.

Never in the history of mankind have we been more connected, more communicative, and yet less involved with each other than today.  Never before have we talked more, chatted more, texted more, emailed more, shared on Facebook more, and yet feel more isolated, alone, and less loved than anytime in history.

So, what happens when there is a void that needs to be filled?  That’s right, we find something that will fit it.  But, one has to ask, “Why pets?”

For that, I think the answer is simple – they love without conditions.  They don’t hold grudges.  They are always happy to see you.  To them you are the center of their existence.  If you are gone from them for 6 hours and return, they greet you as if you have been gone for 6 years, and they do it every day, every time.  In short, pets fill a growing gap in human relationships that have been failing at an ever-increasing pace for at least the past 50 years, if not 100 years.

Is this bad?  No, I don’t think so.  However, it is bad if we consider that we care more about pets then we do people.  It is bad if we pay more attention to our pets then we do to those who are part of our life.  It is bad if we neglect the constant struggle to keep our human relationships intact, and turn instead to our pets for the comfort and love we feel we need and deserve.  And, yes, human relationships are sometimes hard, and in constant need of repair, and require constant effort to maintain.  But, it would be sad to think we prefer an easy way out, over the effort required to have decent human relationships.

So, my friends, let this simply be a cautionary note.  I’ve said nothing against pets, pet owners/parents, or their relationships.  I’ve merely pointed out the growing tendency to use our relationship with pets as a substitute for more complex, stressful, and sometimes exhausting, human relationships.  In short, it’s easier and less complicated for us to love our pets, and for them to love us, then it is to have meaningful relationships with other human beings.




One Response to “The New Pet Attitude”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Well said! No truer words spoken! Just sayin’…….

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