3. You take your dog with you everywhere you go- “Whether its grocery shopping or hitting the gym, Sparky goes with me everywhere.” We all hate the thought of having to leave our dogs home alone. Many pet parents work long hours during the week so they want all their free time to be spent with their ‘baby’; but that isn’t always practical. Some days I’m too busy to make sure my dogs get some sort of exercise so I think, ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could just take the dogs with me to run errands’. And sometimes I do, but there aren’t many pet friendly stores and, although my dogs love the car ride, waiting for me in the car isn’t a workout. Nevertheless, let us not forget that being able to leave your dog at home (without a babysitter) while you work, or run errands, is one of the perks to being a pet parent. While no one should abuse this option by neglecting their dog, sometimes it’s ok to take a break and give ourselves a little alone time. But if you do insist on taking your pooch with you around town, keep in mind that even though you like the idea of your dog going with you everywhere, you don’t really want to see everyone else’s dog in a place like the grocery store.
4. Your pet has a Facebook page- “This is Muffin’s page. She has 97 friends and counting.” Having a Facebook page for your pet is not unusual, but it’s not exactly something everyone in the pet industry would do. I know several pet parents who have created a page for their dog or cat or a page for all of their animals to share, and they love it. Overall, it’s a great way to show off your adorable pup, meet other animal lovers, socialize your dog (if you schedule a play date), and get involved in the animal community. Just keep in mind that it is actually human pet parents posting messages for their pets, not a group of super intelligent animals. As long as you remember that, you should be fine.
5. You personify your pet as human- “Buddy is spending a day at the spa. He just loves a good milk bath and pedicure.” When you live as a pet parent it is easy to forget that your furry family member isn’t human. Your dog goes to daycare, he has birthday parties and play dates, his own room and clothes, so you figure he should have a Bark Mitzvah as well. You love getting dressed up, going out to a club, or relaxing at the spa, so you figure your dog would too. Personally I love the idea of all of these things. I’ve thrown my dogs birthday parties and weddings. I’ve painted their nails, dressed them up, and arranged play dates. I know what it’s like to want to enhance the quality of my dog’s life through activities that enhance human lives. But when it comes down to my dogs enjoying a happy and well-balanced life, I have to remind myself that those human activities don’t matter to animals. At the end of the day, a dog is still a dog (no matter what they are wearing) and they could really care less about a day at the spa.
So what is the difference between a pet owner and a pet parent? Well, by definition, there really isn’t a difference, only the negative connotation of the word owner, implying that pets are merely property. But the word owner does not have to be negative. Just because a person does not treat their dog like a child does not mean they love their dog any less. And while these 5 habits flag a typical pet parent, it is ultimately up to you on which category you fall under. Pet parents and pet owners alike have been paving the way for a brighter future for our pets and the care available to them. We have a common goal to give our pets more than just shelter and food but quality of life as well. We are all striving in one way or another to change the way animals are treated and to speak for them when they cannot speak for themselves. As for me, I will do what I can to ensure my dogs are living happy, healthy lives whether I refer to them as my babies or just my dogs.