The Evolution Of Pets’ Roles In Our Lives

Remember when pets were thought to be outside creatures that you went outside to play with? Their food was whatever was left from dinner each night. And they supplemented their diet by catching whatever they could.

No thought was given to what they ate, whether their diet was balanced or nutritious, and not many people took their animals to the vet. Not because they didn’t love their pets, but because the expectation of their life span was far shorter than what we expect it to be today.

How times have changed. Today we name our pets really nice names (Carson, Robin, Davis even double names like Spencer Carter), take them to the pet store (Did they have those 50 years ago?), take them on vacation us, and if that’s not possible put them up in boarding kennels to assure that they are well cared for until we return.

We have them groomed, their nails painted, and if we must work a job to support them in the style to which they have become accustomed, we put them in daycare facilities so they are not lonely when we’re gone.

Animals that would have been put to sleep or simply died 50 years ago have owners who are able and willing to provide the option of surgery, daily medications, shots, or whatever else they need to enhance their quality of life.

Drive-through windows at banks and fast food restaurants have capitalized on this close relationship that owners now have with their pets and just like 50 years ago they would have offered a lollipop to the child, they now offer treats for animals. Don’t laugh; this simple kindness has won them customer loyalty again and again.

So what has been responsible for this change of heart in pet owners? Why suddenly have pets been brought in from the back yard inside our homes and hearts to take their place on the sofa, on the bed, and in the car? Could it be a change in the structure of the family?

Over the past 50 years there has been a drastic change in the make-up of families. More single parent families, conflicting work schedules for couples, and the Baby Boomers growing older and looking for companionship as they retire and have more leisure time.

All of these factors have created a need for companionship which many of us have chosen to lavish on our pets. It’s been a good match. In general pets are always happy to see us, never talk back, and think their people are the best thing that ever happened to them. Who else on earth can give you that as consistently as a pet?

The result of bringing pets indoors is that they allow us to love and laugh more, lower our blood pressure, and help us go through life unafraid to wear our heart on our sleeve.