by: Carol Bryant
"Yank his leash!"
The words jolted through me like, well, a bolt of lightning.
“Excuse me?” I quizzically looked at the man standing near the bins of dog treats.
“Your dog is trying to eat the treats out of that bin,” he chided.” Yank his leash and give his neck a good tug.”
Why do these situations seem to find me? I have no idea, but my path seems to cross that of dim-witted loud mouths now and again, and that’s putting it mildly. This incident happened about two weeks ago, but the aftermath of it stays with me. So I blog.
One of our family rituals involves perusing a local pet supply store on weekends: Our dog gets to interact with other dogs, people, and he has a good time with the sniffs. The treat bins are oh-so-strategically placed at dog level, thus inviting a good sniff and maybe for sneaking a treat or two. My dog, Dexter, will wait 95 percent of the time for a treat, but on this particular day he helped himself to a small marrow bone biscuit. This is when said incident occurred…
“Sir, it is unhealthy to pull a dog’s neck or give him a yank,” I replied. “You can do a lot of damage to their trachea. I would never do that to my dog.”
“You crazy dog people,” is all that he muttered to me as he scurried away.
The guy wasn’t that old, so it wasn’t a generational thing. He was uniformed. I really wanted to give him some more info on why pulling a dog’s neck is unhealthy, but he left the scene.
This got me to thinking: Where can I go where I am more amongst “my kind”—you know, those people who don’t raise an eyebrow because I let my dog kiss my face; folks who totally understand that a pet is a member of the family and I don’t feel like an alien in a cornfield of non-pet people.
I’ve always just wanted to fit in with others who share my passion for pets, and it has not been until these past five years or so that I really feel that society has begun to embrace me.
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. Some prefer pet owner, pet parent, cat mama, ferret dad, or some variety in between. Whatever the case, pets are part of the family and if you reading this post, I’m probably preaching to the choir.
In moments like the above, I still now and then feel isolated and wonder when society gave itself a free license to say whatever comes to mind. Honk a horn, make a rude gesture, tell me to yank my dog’s collar, don’t hold the door open for me, rush to get that parking spot. Our pets do none of these things. That makes our pets even better than humans then, yes?
I embrace that I do things with my dog in 2013 that perhaps others who went before me did not (or could not) do with their pooches. I look back on my childhood and cringe: The “family dog” wasn’t allowed in the living room, and I still wonder whether she ever even saw anything above the basement, where she was “allowed” to sleep on colder nights.
I live a bit more vicariously and in the moment since becoming a dog mom: And after all, aren’t dogs always living in the moment? They’ve taught me well, these creatures kids called dogs. I’ve yet to see my dog worry about what just happened, or panic at something that’s going down tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to its fullest because at any time, it can end.
For those of us who have earned the love of a pet at any stage of our lives, you get it: We are special people. Our pets tell us so in their own unique way.
The “industry” knows this, and our pets are the targets of smart marketing. Of course treat bins will be at dog level: If my dog sniffs a bin, it means he or she wants some. “Hey ma, can I have some candy?” The thing is: My dog doesn’t throw a fit if we leave the store without something. (rare that we leave empty handed, but it happens).
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.
Pet bloggers are a force with which to be reckoned. When I am ready to do some shopping, 9 out of 10 times I look to reviews from pet bloggers to see what they’ve said, how things work, and if they give the product their stamp of approval.
And I know I am not alone.
Dog moms and dads come to the yearly BlogPaws Conferences. I decided to jump feet first and see if there were other people like me back in 2009. I walked through the BlogPaws Conference doors in Ohio, held my head high, felt a twinge of nervousness, but wanted to see “what this pet blogging talk” was all about. I left a changed woman. Oh, and the entire event of more than 400 people, dozens of brands, and a weekend of seminars and knowledge-based sessions was pet-friendly. I sat with my dog near my feet as my life changed. Talk about a full-circle moment. Brands wanted to know what was important to me as a pet parent. Some of the brands even called me a pet parent! Imagine that!
I recall asking Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws co-founder, about pet blogging and if this was a fad or here to stay.
“Our community is on the pulse of all things pet: from dogs to cats, rabbits to ferrets, and everything in between,” she told me in 2009. Here we are in 2013, nearing the end of a year and the power of the pet blogger is only getting stronger.
So I might be a crazy dog person to some, but I get the warm fuzzies when I hear that. Yanking my dog’s leash to prevent him frommy sniffing or snacking a treat: Now that thought sends chills up my spine.