Do You Consider Pets Family Members?

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If there is one certainty we hold true and observe time and again as the team of BlogPaws it is this: many people who share their lives with a pet are passionate about doing so. The many we encounter do things like blog about them, share their lives with them, foster and rescue, go without so their pets can have, and make sacrifices in the name of dog, cat, ferret, gerbil, rabbit, bird, fish, snake, etc., time and time again.

Do you consider pets family members?

And we here at BlogPaws embrace the term “pet parent.” After all, I am a dog mom. I love it when folks call me a dog mom; I never grimace, furrow a brow, or correct them. In fact, a sense of pride swells in me. I buy cotton swabs, I use baby wipes on my dog after a muddied walk or rainy day, and I could probably circumnavigate the globe twice with the amount of paper towels I’ve used in a lifetime of what some would call dog ownership. I like to call it pet parenting.

And there are those who have a problem with that. But why?

Humanizing our pets has taken a stronghold on this country; in fact, some might argue that “dogs are the new kids” is becoming a worldwide trend. I’m not anti-human child; I’m pro non-human family members.

But even though I consider myself a dog mom, I know that my dog isn’t a child. If the fates honor me with my dog-sharing life for a solid 15 years or more, unlike a teenager at age 15, my dog isn’t asking for the car keys, won’t enter the dating world, and will never become a source of gray hair as I worry because he is out 10 minutes past curfew. His time is getting limited, at this ripe old age.

Bed
I realize that not everyone feels the need to call themselves a “pet parent,” but I liken my relationship with my pet to that of a family member: We co-exist, love each other, and even better than the human variety: My dog never frustrates me! I own a purse. I own a coffee table. I share life with my family member, my dog.

So when I see articles in the media that beckon “Aging Pet Owners, Aging Pets,” my ears perk up and my head tilts sideways a bit. You’ve got my attention.

Apparently, MediaPost.com did a poll where they asked baby boomer women if they consider their pet a part of the family. The response was overwhelming; in fact all of them–a full 100%–said yes. The writer had me cheering and doing a bit of a chair dance until I read the next paragraph.

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“I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me – an active father of young children – I would not have answered yes to either of these questions. I love our dog and cat, but I do not consider them to be full members of my family, and I would not make healthcare decisions (to use one example) as if they were. And while I don’t object to the dollars my household does spend on them, I definitely do not consider myself the primary decision-maker on pet purchase decisions.

I stopped spinning in my chair.

Heavy heavy sigh. Why wouldn’t a pet be considered a full-fledged member of the family? The survey revealed a lot of valuable information, but the point that stuck is the author’s lack of family member status to the dog and cat.

I spoil my dog, some might say. He certainly does not need eight leashes, four water bowls, a weekly trip (or more) to the pet supply store, organized play dates, and (the horror, get ready): a blog inspired by his life with mine and a canine-centric career choice.

Bathie
He’s a family member. When he is sick, I worry and I rush him to the vet. If he is happy, so am I. When something is bothering him, it absolutely bothers me. Do you feel this way about your pet(s)?

Dogs live short lives; we know this when we accept the responsibility of dog parenting. I shop in the same stores as moms with human children, yet there is a stigma that in some way it might be odd to consider me a mom. My credit cards are accepted, my legal tender works the same way, I shop and bargain hunt in a similar capacity, and oh: I tell my friends and followers, who, in turn, listen to me and my sagely advice. Then they go to the stores or visit a website and do the same things, as dog moms and dog dads. And I know I am not alone.  As a blogger in the pet sphere, have you influenced someone, somewhere with your words and/or information/advice? You bet your bottom dollar you have.

I recall an interview I had with fellow BlogPaws Community member and successful pet blogger, Paris Permenter of Dogtipper. She said, “I think pet bloggers have much the same influence (as mom bloggers), reaching an audience that makes purchasing decisions not only for their pets but also for their entire household. Whether that household includes two-legged children or not, I think pet households have many of the same concerns as young families. Pee and poop are ongoing topics in pet households; unlike in homes with growing infants and toddlers, these remain topics of conversation (and purchases) in pet families throughout the years.”

Images-funny-memes-derp-and-derpina-animals-with-sayings The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that “PetSmart Thrives Treating Owners Like Pet Parents.” We’re not losing our marbles, we’re being embraced and converted to
dollar signs, for wag’s sake! With the American Pet Products Association reporting an estimated $52 billion projected to be spent in the pet industry in 2012, I realize I am not alone. Hello, brands: It’s me, the pet mom. Pet parents run the gamut: From fish to snakes, cats to ferrets, birds to bunnies.

“We’re consumers. We party, we shop, we bathe, we walk our dogs in strollers, we do all the same things mommy bloggers do,” BlogPaws’ co-founder Yvonne DiVita says. “Our community is on the pulse of all things pet: from dogs to cats, rabbits to ferrets, and everything in between.”

The proof is in the numbers for some. More than 5,000 buyers representing 65 countries attended Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest trade show spanning the size of 16 football fields. I was there. I walked among the throngs of people clamoring for the latest and greatest in pet products and services. Someone came back from that trade show and told their friends about those products, shared videos and pictures, tweeted and “Liked,” and then did it some more. Guess who? Me and my posse of pet parents who want purchase influencers to know we’re more than the person holding the other end of the leash.

We shop. We buy. Some of us even tuck their kids dogs in at night. I’m a dog mom and I’m here to stay. How about you? Is your pet(s) a family member?

506Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®

Image: Chepko Danil Vitalevich/Shutterstock.com

  • http://Www.totallypets.me Sawsan

    I’m a proud dog mom of two. You’re article made my day. I’m not sure if I inspired anyone. In my world, they think i’m crazy 🙂
    http://Www.totallypets.me

  • http://www.sparklecat.com Sparkle

    I don’t consider my human to be a family member as much as an assistant! OTOH, my human says she is CLOSER to me and my feline roomies than any by-birth family members!

  • http://www.BaylieDog.com Malia

    Great post! I abosolutely concur as I am both a “dog mom” and “cat mom”…no two legged children.

  • Joan

    Yes my dogs are my family, I always stop to consider what to call them, all the boys, had one girl but could not get her surgery so in the process of fund raising ended her suffering. Just as the bone sign says, my dogs are as important to me as your children are to you.

  • nancy c

    I am a proud dog mom. I don’t care if my fur kid came to me at 8 weeks or 11 yrs (yes, 11 yrs old and we had 8-1/2 great years together) they are a valid and valuable part of my family. If someone doesn’t like it, oh well!

  • http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com Jackie Bouchard

    Yes, our dogs have all been full-fledged family members. I know some folks out there think it’s silly, but we consider ourselves to be pet parents. I’m Momma and the hubs is Daddy. In private conversations, we refer to our pup as “the baby.”
    I get that she’s not a human child. And she’s definitely not a replacement child – since we actively opted to not have human children. She’s our girl, and we love her like crazy.
    Having said all that, I get that some folks who have both human and fur kids and are stressed over time and money might feel like they don’t have enough time/money to treat the fur kid like a full family member, but as my friend says (who is mom to both furry and non-furry kids) there’s not a limited space in the heart for love. Having “real” kids didn’t lessen her love for her fur kids. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve known people who used their human kids as an excuse to get rid of the dog. And that just makes me sad.

  • http://www.dashkitten.com Marjorie, and Dash Kitten

    I don’t call myself a ‘pet parent’ I have cats, they have us. Parents is a word I associate with children.
    That said, we recently made our Wills and the cats are the first provision in that document. Their financial and physical well-being is the subject of an ongoing series of blog post that OUR CAT @DashKitten is running on HIS blog (Mine languishes as his is far more fun * sigh).
    They ARE our Family, they COME FIRST. It bothers me that people think like that idiot do. Dash and I are doing our best to change this type of thinking.

  • http://consciouscat.net Ingrid King

    Bravo! Outstanding article.

  • Devri King

    I am, beeming with pride as I’m typing the words, a dog Mom. I also work in a law firm that, wait for it, does wills/trusts/estates for hundreds of people that INCLUDE their pets in their wills/trusts/estates. To each their own, I say. But, this proud dog Mommy wouldn’t have it any other way. And, I am now getting in trouble for typing instead of throwing the squeaky ball!

  • http://www.kladcockers.com Kelly

    Without a doubt, my three dogs are a part of the family. Even my parents agree – and my mom grew up on a farm where dogs and cats lived outside. I always feel a bit sorry for people that don’t get to experience the depth of emotion that can come with sharing your heart and home with animals. They’re truly missing out.

  • http://www.fidoseofreality.com Carol Bryant

    @Marjorie and Dash – I soooo can’t wait to read this: “That said, we recently made our Wills and the cats are the first provision in that document. Their financial and physical well-being is the subject of an ongoing series of blog post that OUR CAT @DashKitten is running on HIS blog”

  • Lisa Sattler

    Yes, my dogs are my kids. I really don’t care if anyone thinks I’m crazy or otherwise. I think my dogs could teach a lot of humans a thing or two.

  • http://www.kissthechef-catering.com Val Sorensen

    My dogs are not things, they are not possesions. No, they are precious…very precious
    members of our family!

  • http://miniature-dogs-cats.com Lucy Maloney

    The dogs in our home are OUR dogs and every bit as important to us both as our human children are. Love is Love!

  • Mimi Mott Johnson

    Yes, I have been a dog mom to many Cockers over the years I bred and showed dogs. They were first and foremost my pets, then show dogs. All were a part of my family. Presently, I am privileged to share my life with Guinness, a five year old Black and Tan Cocker, and she is my furdaughter! We share good times and bad and I worry when things are not right with her. I do not begrudge whatever it costs to keep her healthy and happy! We share our life and I am the richer for having her a part of it! I have met more people out walking this bundle of a love bug, who just thinks everyone was put on this earth to play with her!

  • Gail Perlman

    I have never been without a dog in my life. My dogs are my family, I could not live without them. I have traveled the world with them and met some wonderful people. They are what kept me going through chemo (certainly my human family did not) What will happen when they are gone, I don’t know.

  • http://bunnyjeancook.blogspot.com/ Vicki Cook

    I have always considered myself a pet parent. I’ve had pets my entire life, and I do consider them a part of my family. And I probably spend a little more disposable income on them now the my daughter is grown! 😉

  • Christine Aiello

    I am definitely a dog mom! I am the owner of a 7 year old Cocker Spaniel and I definitely treat her like anyone would their human child. She is my baby and always will be. She is my first baby too. I would love to have more doggie children, but I just can’t afford it right now. But I definitely consider myself a dog mom! And there is nothing wrong with that! Anyone who doesn’t consider a dog, cat, etc. a part of their family shouldn’t own one!

  • http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.com/ Jana Rade

    YES! Never bothered to rationalize it, though.

  • sandy weinstein

    i have 3 min. schnauzer girls. they are my daughter. they are in my will and have their own trust fund in case something happens to me….they are not my pets, but my children…they have more things, toys, food, shampoo, beauty supplies, brushes, medications, homeopathic medications, health insurance, than i do. i would mortgage my house for my girls…a few of my friends get mad at me b/c i spend so much money on my girls….but i dont care. most of the time, 99% they are more trustworthy than my friends…and they give me unconditional love and devotion..

  • Gina

    I am a dog mom as well as a “human” mom. I love my dog, and he is definitely part of my family. I lost a dog 3 years ago and it was like losing a member of my family. My dog loves when I walk in the door from work, never asks or complains about school, work or what I am going to do for him, can I take him somewhere, he just loves me.

  • http://www.Rosezellasway.com Ann Marie Hoff

    Carol:
    being that I can talk to my pets, it is even more like a family to me. My dogs are an inspiration on how to be in the present moment, how to love and how to drop worry. My cat Elvis came to make me laugh. Which hits on an even more important point- our pets came to US WITH A PURPOSE. Unlike humans who interact with each other and both grow and change, pets are already connected with the oneness and came to support us on our journey thru life by becoming a more developed soul. I would love to do a blog post on that for you sometime.

  • http://www.andreadorn.blogspot.com Andrea

    I don’t consider myself a pet “parent” so much as a caregiver. My cats are my peers not my children but they are definitely family members. Shoot, they ARE my family!

  • http://theworldaccordingtogarthriley.blogspot.com/ Rebecca Randolph

    An emphatic YES! I am Garth’s mom. He is as much a part of me as any human child could be. I don’t get people who “don’t consider their pets as full family members”. Excellent article.