Take my family, for example. We have four sons and three of the four couples have dogs and no children. There is evidence everywhere that dogs are becoming more humanized all the time. How many pet owners do you know that treat their dog more like their baby than an actual dog? I mean, seriously, I’m a prime example. I refer to myself as a doggie grandma on the back cover of my books and on my website! And yes, I doggie sit those adorable grand dogs while my kids go off on exotic holidays.
Look around your community and you will start to see it for yourself. There have always been those eccentric dog owners out there with the cash to indulge their pets with spa treatments, gourmet food, day care, outfits and bling dog collars. Have you noticed this becoming more the norm, as of late? It’s common practice to serve only organic food to one’s dog, ensure dog sitters are hired when traveling with one’s pet isn’t an option (although pet friendly hotels are available everywhere), have doggie seat belts/harnesses installed in the backseat of vehicles and ensure only the best of medical attention through exclusive veterinary services. Have any of you noticed the premium doggie strollers being wheeled along park and city sidewalks these days?
The real test is to witness puppy adoration in public places. Instead of the public cooing over a newborn baby or toddler, it’s the puppies who bring out this maternal/paternal response. Babies are regularly upstaged by the adorable, furry pets in their booties and raincoats.
Check out the green space of any urban community and you will discover that more and more of the parks are undergoing changes so that the doggie park area can increase in size. There is controversy in Portland over such changes being initiated to decrease the children’s play areas for more running and green space for our four-legged friends. A couple of weekends ago, cross country skiing on our local mountain, it became clear that the most panoramic trail was reserved for the dogs off leash and their skiing owners. Everyone in my neighborhood is totally gaga over their dogs. Their pet’s needs are a huge priority in their lives (just as our children’s used to be) and conversations always include updates or cute stories about one’s dog. Does this remind you of when we used to bore our friends with stories about our incredibly unique children? And there are friends and relatives who congregate in Palm Desert and Arizona for the winter months who send photos of their puppy parades (labelled as “Yappy Parades”)! Yep, the golf carts are decorated, the owners and dogs are in costume to denote the breed (e.g., Westies in tartans, Frenchie’s in scarves and berets). They parade through their trailer parks and it’s a proud event! (What’s the bet that most of those folks are doggie grandparents like me and don’t actually have any human grandchildren?)
I don’t know if it’s just me, becoming more aware of all this because I happen to write contemporary fiction about a thirteen year old who is French Bulldog crazy or because there actually is a shift taking place with more young adults choosing to develop a sense of family through puppy ownership, rather than actually giving birth to a couple of human babies. I’m curious, what’s your take on this? Are puppies replacing children? I wonder!