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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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?
Carol 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