From Pet Parents Who Have Taken It a Little Too Far
Baby Boomers are spoiling their pets so lavishly that they are helping to create the next Generation P
I had breakfast this morning, al fresco, at a sweet little bakery in a beach side town. I was with Joe and Myles. Joe is my husband. Myles is our five pound Yorkie. We three spent the entire meal talking with the people at the next table. The conversation centered solely around their six-month old pup, and our sweet old guy. Our neighbors were cooing and clucking and baby-talking the entire time. Maybe we did a bit of that as well. I don’t remember.
But it got me to thinking of what bores we’ve all become when it comes to the animals we love so much.
We eat with them. Sleep with them. Watch a movie, read a book, and talk about the meaning of life with them. Whenever we can, we take them to dog-friendly hotels, jet around with them, shop with them. It’s called anthropomorphism, and it is a common condition among baby boomers who are filling their empty nests with pets and treating them as if they are human.
Time to fess up. Don’t tell me that you haven’t considered yourself a “mommy” or “daddy” to the four legged baby who lives with you. It’s okay. You are not alone.
Our first pets, when we were growing up, included a spirited white duck who was adopted when my brother traded a baseball card for him, and a beautiful black lab mix that arrived a few months later. Both of them were pretty self-sufficient. They regularly dined on our leftovers (even the duck), and while the dog lived inside, the duck lived outside, like a duck would, though admittedly he had a house built special for him by my Uncle Roger to stop him from waking the neighbors at sunrise. But that’s another story.
Life went on as normal. Sometimes we played with them. Every night I scratched the pup behind the ears. On Tuesdays the dog took a stroll to the butcher shop where the staff saved her special bones and scraps. Often the duck would sunbathe and entertain the neighborhood with her cuteness. Neither the duck nor the dog owned a sweater/tee shirt/Thunder Vest/Shirt/Leash, a pair of goggles, an ophthalmologist appointment, a car seat or stroller.
Today, with 85 million households owning pets in the U.S., we are looking at them a bit differently. Americans are on track to spend more than $75 billion on them this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. Are we creating a whole new generation of coddled and entitled creatures. Will they be remembered as Generation P?
I own my part in all of this. My husband and I spend a lot of time tending to our pet’s needs. Most often, our free time is all about the dog and not about us. We curb our nights out when we are worried about our dog’s emotional state. We make sure his grooming appointments are on schedule, and that his bed and favorite blankets are clean and ready for his interminable naps. Our meals are often referred to as “doggy meals,” (which means he can safely have a taste) or “not a doggy meal” (no tasting allowed: he will become ill from this food). Whenever possible, he tails us to work. We try to never leave him alone. If he is left in the wrong hands, he could be injured. Lost. He would die without us.
So how do we enjoy a quick weekend away in a pet unfriendly hotel? It’s all about finding good foster care.
So for all of you pet parents who MUST leave your pet for a night or weekend, I’ve prepared an all-purpose “Note to the Pet Sitter” for those overnight jaunts. Perhaps we have all taken pet parenting a little too far, but if you identify with two or more of the bullets below, you’re are a huge part of this phenomenon. Simple insert your dog, cat or parakeet’s name in place of “Myles” and his or her species in place of “dog.”
Thanks for agreeing to watch Myles in our home this weekend. Our little guy is a joy to be with. It’s like we don’t have a dog at all! He’s so quiet; he barely makes a sound. Doesn’t shed or gnaw on the furniture. All he needs is a little love, that’s all.
For your convenience, I jotted down a few things to make your weekend even easier:
- As you know, Myles is getting on in years, so he will need to be taken outside at least every couple of hours. Or every hour. Whichever works for you.
- Even though he’s a slow walker, he enjoys navigating the entire quarter-mile block we live on three times a day. He’s really used to it. If he just stops and stares, don’t worry. Eventually, he’ll start walking again. But he’s so precious. Really. Look at him.
- If you leave the house for one to two hours, he is likely to have a series of anxiety attacks. Please be sure he is in a doggy diaper and wearing a Thunder Vest. And he’ll need Spotify; he has his own playlist. Please turn it on. The CBD oil that reduces his anxiety is in the fridge. He’ll need his favorite blanket.
- If you leave the house for more than two hours, you might want to take him with you. We have a cute dog carrier in the front hall closet. You can sling him right over your shoulder! LOL
- If you can’t take him along, you will have to prepare him. His diapers are on the third shelf. Bring his bed, food and toys into the lower level. Have a nice talk with him before you leave to reassure him. He’ll know what you mean. While you are gone, is it possible for you to click into our home security app to keep an eye on him while you’re out doing whatever it is you are doing? That would be great.
- If you notice on the app that he is barking at the foot of the basement stairs for more than 40 minutes, you might have to return. Otherwise, his GI system might spin out of control. But that’s rare. It won’t happen. Never mind. I never said this. (The bleach is on the top shelf downstairs, just in case.)
- That reminds me. He refuses to walk up or down the stairs. Please carry him wherever you go.
- His eye medications need to be administered twice daily. But not together. Can you wait a half hour after the drops before giving him the ointment? Be careful when doing this. He may try to leap out of your grasp whenever you attempt to administer them.
- He really likes music. Not country. He likes rap. And classical. Not jazz. Not sports coverage. He hates the sound of that. He’ll cry if you put it on. But you can sing to him.
- He will expect to sleep with you at night. If you should have “company,” he will try to bite your friend if they sleep on his side of the bed. Of course, he’ll never hurt anyone purpose. He just gets scared.
- Which reminds me. Often, around 3:30 a.m. he will get the urge to go outside for a tinkle. If you happen to be awake, or maybe if you set your alarm for 3:15, you could just take him out. That would be so nice.
- We’d love to see a couple of pics of him every day. Would you mind sending these along at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.? (Maybe even one before he drifts off to sleep?) Thanks!
As I said, we really appreciate your help with Myles. I know he’s no trouble at all, but just to show our thanks, I’ve attached a Dunkin’ card for your troubles, even though you won’t have any troubles. (I’m sure of it!).
Thanks for your help! xoxoxoxoxoxox