Although birthrates have continued to decline over the past 10 years and have hit an all-time low this year, it certainly doesn’t mean people have given up the idea of having a family. In fact, during this same 10 year period, pet ownership and spending has sky rocketed to unprecedented proportions.
Meet Lassie, the new urban baby.
Pet owners are fanatical about their pets. Organic dog food, low-fat cat treats, acupuncture post-surgery therapy and dog spas are common place in today’s pet owner’s world. Gone are the days that your dog waits in the backyard for you to get home from work. Dog owners now drop Fido off at doggie-daycare, where he gets groomed, walked and entertained for 8 hours and the proud owners can log in to see Fido via the doggie-cam throughout the day.
Kaya isn’t just my dog, she’s my family. I plan my day around what we’re going to do together, what she’ll enjoy, what will make her happy. I can’t imagine just going off to work and throwing her in the backyard by herself all day. I wouldn’t like that, so why should she?
The first step in understanding pet owners today is understanding the different mindsets people have around what it means to own a pet. People are so passionate about their pets that to stop at saying they are family members would be a mistake. Pets represent even more.
Pets aren’t just part of the family. Pets are your personal brand.
I buy my dog special food, I get him groomed every other week, I have his nails done and his ears cleaned. He gets acupuncture once a month and goes to doggie day care 4 times a week. I do all those things because I want him to look good and be happy because that says I’m a good dog owner.
Pets mimic life.
I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. They fight. They play. Some days they hate each other and some days you see them all sleeping together on the couch. I imagine it’s not that much different than having kids. You just have to teach them how to get along and accept that they are all different. Some days you look at them and think they are angels and some days you don’t. But, at the end of the day, I love them all.
Pets are a lifestyle.
We definitely plan things around what we can do with the dog. We camp so the dog can be with us. I started running so we could exercise together. And we drive now instead of flying so the dog can join us on family vacations. I wouldn’t dream of doing anything without considering how it affects Floyd.
Pets know you better than your human friends.
Oscar just seems to know when I’m feeling low or when I need to laugh. He has a radar that understands me like no person ever has.
We don’t just train our pets – we try to understand their psyche.
It’s not enough that Sandy comes when I call him. I want him to tell me what he wants and what he needs. And he does. In his way. I am just learning what his way is and what it means.
There’s nothing rational about how much money people will spend on their pets.
My boyfriend and I broke up and we decided to have joint custody of our dog, Simone. He’s in NY and I’m in LA so every month we trade off which means one of us has to fly across the country to pick up the dog. Is that extreme? Maybe, but it’s better than not having Simone in my life.
Pets reflect the qualities we desire in people.
Shelby’s my tester – if she doesn’t like you, then no second date. If she jumps on your lap and is happy to see you, even if you just met, then I know you’re okay. She’s a great judge of character.
There are 81 million homes in our country alone that boast either a cat or dog today. And there is a lot more to this industry than selling dog food. Pet owners are not only fanatical, but extremely loyal and passionate.
Pet owners spend time researching the best treatments, brands and care options. They want to spend money on their pets and are willing to spend lots of it to the point of irrational (pet spending hit $34.4 billion in the US alone last year according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association).
All this points to a growing target audience that expands the idea of pet ownership beyond just simple companionship and the role of the pet extends to more than just a family member.
We’d love to hear your thoughts – what role does your furry friend play?
Comment below or get in touch with us for more insights on the role of pets and their meaning in our lives today.