Sunday

How Far Would You Go?

How far would you go to make your dog happy, comfortable or safe?  On our dog’s Facebook page, I have posted a few snippets about a fence we were having built.  It was totally finished Saturday and I am so glad.  The owner of the company was short a worker and ask me if I would want to “help out”. I thought “Oh well”  it can’t be too bad and the kicker was, he would take my salary off the bottom line and help divert some of the cost, which was high because we were fencing over 10 acres.  I was the “new” guy and the gopher, but the money was good. 
I remember when he ask why did I want a fence, I said it was for the dogs and I got that puzzled look, but he let me keep talking and I’m sure he wondered why I was spending so much money.  He did a wonderful job and I was a great gopher, we worked 15 days in a row, even on Saturdays and Sundays and when the weather forecast called for rain, I ask about working, I was told “You have a raincoat don’t you”  the rain did not deter us.  Dogs…I hope you’re happy…
This set me to thinking about what I do for the dogs and how far would I go.  I once remember Max our first border collie.  We were walking one winter several years ago and Max started across the lake which was frozen.  About 20 feet out, he fell through the ice.  Max continued across the pond trying to break the ice as he went, but kept heading across the lake which was a much longer distance to the other side.  “Max…Max… come here, turn around…Max!” He kept going and I could see he was getting tired and moving slower and slower.  “Max!!!!!!”  My mind was racing and I knew he wasn’t going to make it.  Against my better judgment, I had to go in, he wasn’t going to die before my eyes.  I made up my mind and started to take off my heavy boots but just when Max reached the middle, he turned and started to head back toward my voice, the look in his eyes was frightful and I’m sure mine were too.  Max made it back, but never got on the ice again.  How far would you go?
There are dog owners and dog lovers and I happen to be a dog lover.  I know of many people who would do the same thing and to some people, it’s crazy because “it’s only a dog”.  We have friends that have a movie night with their dogs a few nights a month.  They pull the mattress to the TV room and lay with their three dogs on the mattress and watch movies and eat snacks, all falling asleep together and how wonderful it is for everyone.  I know of people who prepare special food or even have a birthday cake or birthday steak for their beloved Border Collie and cost is never an option when it comes to their needs. 
Americans Spent over $50 Billion on Pets
1. Pets are stress-busters — and we need that now more than ever. In 1994, roughly 15% of Americans reported increased anxiety in their lives. By 2009 that number had risen 49%, and it’s predicted to be even higher now.
When we cuddle, play with, and even just look at our pets we get a hefty boost of oxytocin, our body’s naturally occurring feel-good, stress-relieving, emotional-bonding hormone. So do our pets, by the way. Which makes all parties more relaxed and happy, and more deeply bonded.
That bond, and our appreciation of the stress relief we get from our pets, is a partial explanation for why 77% of Americans give birthday presents to their pets, and why we spend $5 billion on holiday gifts for our pets.
2. Pets have more status today. Compared to previous eras, there is currently much less hierarchical distance, and more equality, between parents, kids, and pets. More than 9 in 10 owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and 81% say pets are equal members of the family.  Still need more proof? There are one million dogs in the U.S. that have been named the primary beneficiary of their owners will.
3. Pets fill connection and friendship vacuums. Americans have about a third fewer close friends today than they did 20 years ago — averaging two rather than the three they had, on average, in 1985. And though online connections alleviate some of that loss, we’re neurologically less satisfied by online friends than we are by personal contact. Pets provide companionship and connection that we need more than ever today. Dogs, in particular, also increase human social circles through gatherings at parks and getting out into neighborhoods more often through walks.
4. Pets fulfill our need to nurture. An unprecedented number of people live alone today – 1 in 7 Americans. Plus, our years without children stretch longer on both ends. Empty nesters live longer and people have children later in life. Regardless of a person’s household composition, the need to nurture is universal. Which partly explains why 78% of animal owners think of their animals as their children and themselves as pet parents, not pet owners. In fact, 58% of pet owners call themselves “mommy” or “daddy.”
5. There are simply more things to buy today. Undoubtedly, many pet owners would have been game to pamper their dogs and cats a decade ago. But the options were more limited. An abundance of choice gives us psychological permission to take a step toward indulgence.
Last year, more than $11 billion dollars was spent on pet supplies. Many are products that weren’t available a decade ago, such designer pet bowls, orthopedic dog beds, fancy puppy carriers, and of course a plethora of toys. We’re not just talking about basic squeaky toy or Frisbee, but things like “Jimmy Chew” plush toys and doggie puzzles that provide your pet with “mental stimulation.”
Even though the sharp rise in pet spending may seem puzzling, when all things are considered, pets are a bargain. The emotional gratification most people receive from their pets is immense – far outweighing whatever money is spent.
So what do we want in return?  A cold nose under your arm or just a small piece of the bed, but it’s all worth it when they come to us with those dog eyes and lift their paw as if to reach for us and our heart melts.  As I sit here writing this article, I am surrounded by seven furry companions that would give their life and have given their heart to me and it’s worth every penny that I have spent…