A loving link between baby boomers and their pets is my first “official” article for Mount Pleasant Magazine. Mother’s Day Weekend seemed like the pawfect time to share it with you –
Nine years ago I was fifty-three years old. After more than two decades as a military spouse, I was ready to give up my Human Resources career and sow my seasoned oats. And what was the first thing I did? –
I bought a puppy!
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted a pet. My childhood is void of memories with one because my parents weren’t “pet friendly.” During those Army years, my hands were full – deployments, permanent change of duty station moves, new jobs and new communities. Maintaining normalcy in that environment, with our two legged children, was about all I could handle, so a family pet would have to wait until after.
- my 50’s
- the children moved out
- my husband retired from the military
When “after” finally arrived, not once did I question taking on the role of a middle-aged puppy mom!
BABY BOOMERS –
As a member of this iconic generation (adults born between 1946 – 1964), I proudly accept how we have redesigned the culture of pet parenting. Known as the “generation of firsts” in many categories, we are once again the pioneers of the pet ownership explosion in this country.
Did you know –
Baby Boomers revolutionized an industry that now grosses over $60 million dollars a year in pet products?
We are the generation who, over time, elevated the status of the family pet. When we were growing up, dogs and cats lived in backyards, and slept in outdoor dog houses. They ate table scraps and whatever crawled their way. Veterinarians and immunizations were reserved for the rich and famous. Our dogs ate grass and it seemed to cure just about everything! Boomers have exchanged those old wooden shelters for corduroy lined therapeutic pet mattresses and brought their furry friends inside.
We’ve renamed ourselves as well. Rarely do we openly refer to ourselves as “pet owners.” The deep emotional connection between us and our domestic animals has helped steer the idea that pet owners are more like parents. Names of endearment such as Pet Parent, Dog Mom and Fur Mom best describe how we see ourselves and others who have a pet in the home. I’m even eccentric enough to use a breed specific name – Doodle Mom! Our domestic animals are no longer “pets” – they are our Fur Babies, Fur Kids, our Boys or Girls. We relate to them as family members! They’re our children who happen to be hairier, fluffier, cuddlier and come with a tail.
HOW DID WE GET HERE? –
To be honest, how we’ve evolved here has been a bit of a journey – believe it or not. At the tail end of WWII, President Roosevelt signed the G.I Bill. Who knew the two key elements in this law (Education and Home Loans) would radically impact our society even today.
After the war the ability to pursue a higher level of education increased household incomes. The zero down payment which accompanies the VA loan encouraged many service men and women to seek home ownership in suburban communities with a yard for a pet!
My husband’s military career took us through thirteen moves in twenty-seven years. After purchasing and closing on a home loan, I could not wait to place steps on our deck, build a fence and find a dog.
BECOMING PARENTS AGAIN –
For many boomers, the decision to bring a pet into the home can stem from an over whelming desire to “parent” again. For those (like myself) with grown children, there is fulfillment in caring for something else. Those who chose years ago not to raise children – can also feel that same emotion to nurture and love another living creature.
For the Baby Boomer generation, dogs have become the empty-nest fillers. We hovered over our children and now that they are grown and gone, we’ve elected to “hover” over our pets!
THE BENEFICIARIES –
If you’ve ever spent quality time with a pet, you already know the positive impact on your mental and/or physical health is enormous. Your impulse to reward them and splurge on creature comforts #punintended can easily get out of control.
Our dogs frequent spas, are driven to daycare, wear couture clothes, and drink distilled water from electric water fountains. They are cared for by holistic veterinarians, bark-it-out to dog psychics, relax to the scents of essential oils and sleep in our beds.
Palate choices are endless – kibble and canned dog food are no longer the only games in town. Depending on what he/she enjoys nibbling on, you can order fresh, frozen, raw, air dried, or dehydrated.
We, the Baby Boomers of society initiated this trend, which financial experts believe will continue to grow in the pet industry.
OUR BOND –
I believe it’s safe to say those Baby Boomers who either grew up with the constant companionship of a pet or in my case, the dire desire for one, decided to kick it up a notch as adults. Cherished childhood memories or pet fantasies either begin or re-ignite in our golden years with the joy of a pet in our lives.
Perhaps this is why as adults we’ve embraced our dogs (and cats) not as pets but as members of the family.
There are days when I come home in the evenings with nothing left to give. Exhausted I plop down in my family room – and one of my Goldendoodles will crawl up next to me, and in a matter of minutes I’m revived, laughing and smiling. Instantly I feel better both mentally and physically. It’s that feeling of pure joy, it’s everything I thought it would be, it’s something I choose not to live without.
Hoping your Mother’s Day Weekend was filled with all the joy your pets bring you each and every day ❤