When Pets Are Treated Like Children
The Perfectly Sane Ways People Treat Their Pets Like Children
If your heart has been stolen by a furry little creature, it’s OK to confess: We love our pets like they’re our children. For those who haven’t yet been smitten with the adorable face of a dog, cat, ferret or guinea pig, it can be tough to understand the connection between owner and pet.
The Science Behind It
Most pet lovers out there have never even seen their beloved furry children be born. A majority of pets come into homes through adoption or picking up the puppy long after it’s been weaned from its biological mother. We can’t resist those adorable, floppy puppy ears and tiny kitten button noses.
So aside from being as cute as possible, why are we so drawn to our pets?
Well, it’s not because we’re a little crazy. Psychology Today reports that 81 percent of surveyed pet owners consider their dogs to be true family members, or as important as children. It’s caused many people to stop considering themselves pet owners and instead dub themselves pet parents.
Even new pet owners will bring home a dog, telling themselves they’ll never say, “Come to Mama” or “Go get your Daddy” to the little furball. A few short weeks go by and before you know it – you’re one of those people.
According to the American Heart Association, having animals reduces stress and helps us be more active – leading to healthier hearts. The endorphins released when we love our pets are mutual – meaning you and your fur baby feel good from giving and receiving, respectively, a pet on the head.
It’s perfectly normal to want to squeeze the little puppy with the wagging tail when you get home or be content to get sloppy kisses when you wake up each morning. Here are just some of the many ways we treat our pets like kids.
We Create Social Media Accounts for Them
When you have three or four photos a day to share of your handsome cat Mr. Whiskers, it only makes sense to open his own Instagram account. That way you can keep sharing photos of your dinner and Starbucks beverages while Mr. Whiskers shows of his latest bowtie to all his followers without clogging up your feed.
It isn’t just Instagram that has become a social media haven for pets. Vine, Facebook and Twitter have become popular online platforms for pets to show off their personalities and keep up with fans.
Who can blame these pet owners for giving so much attention to their animals that they need their own online accounts? There’s too much cuteness here not to share it!
Happy Birthday, Fido!
Even if pet owners don’t know the exact date of their pet’s birth, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. Many pet owners use the date their dog was brought home as his or her unofficial birthday.
Pet owners throw elaborate parties. From dog- and cat-friendly birthday cakes and inviting all the furry friends you can imagine, pet birthday parties are taking over pet owner social calendars.
Don’t forget the gifts. From food and specialty treats to new custom outfits, pets are getting the royal treatment when it comes to celebrating their birth.
We Love to Brag About Their Education
Any well-behaved dog goes through some sort of training school. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when our dogs complete obedience school, we like to congratulate them on this great accomplishment.
For one, training a dog can get expensive. Popular TV shows such as “Cesar 911” show just how desperate some people can be for a little help. When it comes to making sure dogs get the perfect trainer available, pet owners will shell out hundreds of dollars on just the basics.
Some trainers travel to homes while others require the dogs to come to them.
No matter how dogs get their training, we’re super proud of them when they complete it. Doggie diplomas are no joke. It’s not uncommon to get them framed or have your newly, well-mannered dog pose with it for a keepsake photo.
We Groom Our Pets at the Spa
While spas for humans might not welcome our loveable little fur babies, we spare no expense on making sure our pets look and feel their best.
While groomers used to offer the basic bath and haircut, an array of services are now available to keep your pet in tip-top shape. Services once reserved for elite show dogs are now common for the basic house pet.
Some dogs can even be sent to luxury kennels where they can relax in cushioned rooms with televisions while they wait between treatments, which can include everything from deep conditioning treatments to manicures. Or are they pedicures?
Either way, these paws have never looked so good.
We Cater Their Food
Take some singles with you to the dog park this summer. Dog-friendly ice cream trucks are rolling up in neighborhood parks to cater to pooches in need of a refreshing snack.
Mail ordering fresh foods for your cat or dog also has become popular – although expensive – options. Meals arrive overnight in some cases, and meals that look good enough – and are safe enough – for a human to eat are ready for your fur child to consume.
Pet owners have become so concerned with what animals eat that making homemade treats has become a favorable alternative to store-bought versions. Who can resist a little doggy bone made with a customized cookie cutter that features your pet’s name? Now that’s service.
We Punish Pets Like We Do Our Kids
If Mr. Whiskers knocked down the flower pot or Fido got in the trash can again, we often discipline our pets the same way we do our kids.
It’s not uncommon for pet owners to lecture their animals, wagging a finger in a guilty looking face. Some pet owners even put their animals in time out in hopes to teaching them not to repeat the bad behavior.
Treating pets so similar to our children might not mean they learn from their mistakes quite as easily, but it feels natural to discipline pets in this way.
Pets Are Good Listeners, Right?
Do you ever find yourself going on and on about how rough your day at the office was, and you look down at the doggy on your lap to find he is glued to every word you’re saying? It’s easy to pay attention when someone is scratching behind your ears in just the right place.
Many people confess to talking to their pets more than other family members – often using these silent companions to unload our problems. It’s easy to talk to the pet who won’t leave your side when everyone else is busy with their own issues.
Now if only our pets had advice on how to tackle some of those issues.
We Label Our Pets’ Stuff
You don’t want to get your real son’s towel confused with Fido’s, so it’s smart to have them labeled. Personalized bath towels for pets are just one of the many things we like to make sure people know belongs to our furry kid. Don’t forget food bowls, pet collars and dog leashes.
Sometimes labeled items even become gifts or cherished items we can’t imagine doing without. These are especially useful if you have more than one pet and don’t want to get their things mixed up. That can be worse than when our real kids don’t know which shoe is theirs.
We Dress Them Up
Your cat looks great in those deer antlers on your Christmas card and your dog is adorable in that shark costume you got him for Halloween.
It might not make much sense – nature gave animals the perfect all-weather attire: their fur – but we can’t resist putting them in cute outfits. Whether it’s a sweater in the winter or a swimsuit for the pool, we love dressing our pets.
Not all attire has to be extreme. Tank tops and sweatshirts can keep short-haired dogs warm in cooler weather and personalized bandanas are just plain adorable. Make sure you choose clothing that is comfortable for your pet. Some animals don’t like clothing that is too tight or snug. Something slightly loose fighting or one size up usually makes them most comfortable.
We Put Them in Strollers, Car Seats and Purses
This is tough to do with big pets, but small dogs, cats and other tiny animals just seem perfect for pet strollers. These mobile pet seats are convenient in crowded spaces if your pet gets nervous at ankle level, and it helps them stay comfortable if your activities involve a whole day of walking.
Purses or pet carriers are really only ideal for the smallest of dogs, and it can take a good bit of training to make them comfortable in there. Just make sure you get the little guy or gal out from time to time to stretch his or her legs.
When it comes to car rides, a car seat seems like the safest option. It can be nerve-racking to wonder if your dog is going to try to jump out the open window. It’s also tough to watch them slide around the backseat when you make a turn, or worse, what if there is an accident? Pet car seats keep our furry babies safe from harm yet allow them to cruise in comfort.
We Buy Them Stairs to Get on the Couch and Bed
We want our aging pets to be as comfortable as they’ve been their entire lives. So, it seems like the natural answer to ease their aching joints and steadily worsening vision is to get them pet steps. These portable little staircases are great for helping pets onto the sofa, our beds or any other object that once required a stealthy jump.
If Fido wants to spend his old age cuddled on the couch, shouldn’t he be able to get up there on his own? These steps help keep aging pets independent while giving them a little help in the right direction.
Pet Portraits Are a Common Occurrence
Pets can be found gracing Christmas cards, birthday greetings and even framed photos on the wall. Many pet owners have as many photos of their pets as their actual children. Some studios are even popping up to offer pet-friendly portrait sessions complete with treats in exchange for adorable smiles and canines that can sit in the same place for a couple of minutes.
If photos weren’t enough, pet-inspired art also is sweeping the market. Send a photo of your dog or cat to an artist and you can have a professionally rendered drawing, painting or other artistically inspired depiction. Many pet owners will pay a pretty penny for quality work that captures the true beauty of their dog or cat.
We Fill Their Stockings
Ever heard of Santa Paws? If you’re a pet owner, you’ve told your precious animal all about Santa Paws and his sack full of dog bones and catnip. You might even find a Christmas stocking with your pet’s name embroidered on the front so Santa Paws doesn’t forget who lives there.
Including pets in our holiday celebrations is perfectly normal. You wouldn’t tell your children they couldn’t participate in a time-honored family tradition; so why should pets miss out on the fun?
What’s more adorable than dumping a stocking full of tennis balls, squeak toys and beef-flavored treats in front of a very excited dog on Christmas morning?
We Enroll Them in Day Care
You wouldn’t leave your kid home alone all day while you go to work, so why would you do it with your fur baby?
Pet-themed day care centers are popping up all over the place to help pet owners feel less guilty about leaving their animals at home all day. In pet day care, animals are fed, given plenty of room to run around and play, and get lots of love and affection.
Don’t fret about your pet being alone or missing their favorite TV shows – yes, some pet day cares even have TV time. Pet day care has all the comforts of home until you can return to take them there.
We Participate in Matchmaking Services
Even animals that are spayed or neutered need love. That’s why several pet matchmaking services are popping up to pair our pets with the potential love of their life. Some pet owners who are able to take in a second animal want to make sure it’s not just a friend for their current cat or dog – but a love interest.
Matchmaking services help ensure the animals get along and perhaps connect at a deeper level. It’s like online dating, but for your pet.
We Compare Our Animals to Our Friends’ Kids
Boy, wasn’t Tommy tuckered out after a day at the playground?
Well, you should see Fido. He hasn’t left his dog bone-shaped bed since he got home from the dog park.
It can be tough not to compare what happens with our pets to the daily struggles of raising a child. Having a hard time potty training your child? It was tough to get the cat to use the litter box.
Our friends will get over the fact that we compare our precious pets to their offspring. In the meantime, keep showing adorable photos of your fur baby every chance you get.
They deserve our love and we are always grateful to have theirs.
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