I’ve often heard it said that dogs are man’s best friend and also there’s no such thing as a free pet. I can certainly attest to this. One day about 15 years ago my daughter-in-law came to me with a situation she thought I’d be the solution to. Her grandmother passed away suddenly leaving her cute little 1-year-old Shih Tzu homeless. A family member was keeping him temporarily while a suitable home was found. She felt I would be the perfect puppy mom for the little darling. As I was hearing about the plight of this little dog I was feeling very sorry for him. My life was so crazy at the time I didn’t see how I could adopt a goldfish much less a dog. After giving it some thought I agreed to rescue the little darling with the understanding if it didn’t work out I’d find him a good home. I actually took him with just that intention.
A week later the little darling, named Teddy, arrived at my home with my daughter-in-law’s mom, Peggy. Peggy stayed the weekend with me and all was going well with Teddy and me. However, I still felt his best option would be for me to find him a good home hopefully with someone who could be home with him during the day. I knew I could not because of my work schedule. As Peggy drove off Teddy realized he was being left behind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sadder sight. The look of sad abandonment on that little guy’s face was more than my heart or consciousness could bare! So needless to say at that moment I truly became a pet owner.
I cannot begin to tell you how quickly this little black and white furball took over my heart, my home, and my life. Before the week was out I’d spent approximately $198 on pet supplies for this little “free” dog. Then I found myself shamelessly flashing his photo around to anyone who’d take the time to look at it like any proud first-time mom. I marveled at how something weighing less than 10 pounds could con me into so much. He took over my favourite chair, my bed and stole my heart. I loved every moment we shared together. He was a great doorbell, bedtime buddy, and all-around companion. Nothing was too good for my Teddy. He taught me so much about life and unconditional love. He was the first dog I ever saw who begged by sneezing.
As the years passed we both started to slow down a bit. Our daily walks soon turned into short walks to the mailbox and back instead of around the block. He started needing steps to get up on the bed and could snore louder than a man I knew. We had a lot of great adventures together but I knew we were nearing the time when I would have to love him enough to let him go. His eyesight was failing and so was his hearing and he could no longer get on the bed even with steps.
When the dreaded day finally arrived he was 15 and living with a lot of pain. I drove to his Veterinarian’s office with a very heavy heart during the height of the Covid pandemic. I was not allowed to go in with him. I wanted to hold him as he slipped away but I wasn’t allowed to. I’ve regretted that so much but I did bring him home and bury him under his favourite shade tree.
I share this story to make a point. As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, those born between 1945 and 1960, I learned people age 55 and over are the largest population of pet owners. Dogs have become the empty nest fillers, especially for us Boomers. I know Teddy filled a void I didn’t even realize I had. I was pleased to learn people who own pets are healthier and recover quicker from serious illnesses like heart attacks and strokes than non-pet owners. I had 2 serious surgeries while Teddy was with me and he brought me a lot of comforts and helped me recover quickly.
Dogs are the most popular house pet in America with 38% of households owning at least 1. Cats are the next most popular with 23% of American households owning at least 1.
Following closely behind the baby boomers are the Millennials which include the 25 to 39-year-olds. The Millennials continue to spend more on their pets than any other age group, with 18 to 37-year-olds spending on average $16.6 billion annually, according to Packaged Facts. Over the past 12 months, Millennials purchased more pet beds, feeding supplies, carriers, crates, and kennels, as well as grooming supplies and toys than older pet owners. Millennials and Boomers have helped popularize Doggy Daycares. The Millennials mostly because most work outside the home and like to help socialize their pups while they are at work or travelling. Boomers are more apt to be home during the day with their pets but still like to travel some or just treat their pets to a day out.
In conclusion, I encourage my readers to consider adopting a shelter pet. I had no idea how much love I had to give nor did I realize how much I’d receive in return. Last but not least spay and neuter your pets. It’s very sad how many unwanted pets are born monthly and end up in shelters. Unfortunately not all find their happily ever after home.
Written by Londie Jones.