I am a dog mom. I like love it when folks call me a dog mom and I never grimace, furrow a brow, or correct them. In fact, a sense of pride swells over me. I am not alone. Dog moms should celebrate on Mother's Day (and always).
I buy cotton swabs, I use baby wipes on my dog after a muddied walk or rainy day, and I could probably circumnavigate the globe twice with the amount of paper towels I’ve used in a lifetime of dog parenting, or as some call it, dog ownership.
Anyone can be a mother. It takes a special person to be a mom. So yes thanks, I am a dog mom and a dog blogger all in one: A modern-day buy one, get one, that’s me.
I embrace that I do things with my dog in 2013 that perhaps those who went before me did not with their dogs from days gone by. I look back on my childhood and cringe: The “family dog” wasn’t allowed in the living room and I wonder to this day if she ever even saw anything above the basement, where she was “allowed” to sleep on colder nights.
The humanization of pets has taken a stronghold on this country; in fact, some might argue “dogs are the new kids” is becoming a worldwide epidemic. (Insert backflip and cartwheel here.) Science has finally caught on what those of us with a special connection to dogs have known forever: Dogs have the propensity to feel many of the same emotions humans do. They even write about it in big name journals like Psychology Today.
So what I’m about to say might surprise you: My dog isn’t a child. This much I know is true. If the fates honor me with my dog sharing life for a solid 15 years or more, unlike a teenager at age 15, my dog isn’t asking for the car keys, won’t enter the dating world, and will never become a source of grey hair as I worry if he is 10 minutes late past curfew. His time is getting limited at this ripe old age.
The lifespan of a dog is short, a flicker if you will, compared to a human. There will be no dating, college funds, job searches, or prom nights. He will pass from this world and leave behind a hole in my heart where it used to be, well, “whole.” I’ve been down this road and I will again and again. How about you?
I live a bit more vicariously and in the moment since becoming a dog mom: And after all, aren’t dogs always living in the moment? They’ve taught me well, these creatures kids called dogs. I’ve yet to see my dog worry about what just happened or panic or something that’s going down tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to its fullest because at any time, it can end.
I spoil my dog, some might say. He certainly does not need eight leashes, four different colored water bowls, a weekly trip (or more) to the pet supply store, organized play dates, and (the horror, get ready): A blog inspired by his life with mine and a canine-centric career choice.
To those “some” I say, pffft. Seriously, just like that: “pfffft.” Dogs need to be well-taken care of and doted upon to the degree it makes dog mom or dog dad happy and does not put Fido in harm’s way. In fact, if you re-read that sentence, there’s a mantra in there.
Dogs live short lives and this we know when we accept the responsibility of dog parenting. I shop in the same stores as moms who have human children do, yet there is a stigma that somehow, in some way, it might be odd to consider me a mom. My credit cards are accepted, my legal tender works in the same way, I shop and bargain hunt in a similar capacity, and oh: I tell my friends and followers, who in turn, listen to me and my sagely advice. Then they go to the stores or log onto a website and do the same things, as dog moms and dog dads. And I know I am not alone. So I did some research. Oh my, how I am not alone.
The Wall Street Journal recently revealed “PetSmart Thrives Treating Owners Like Pet Parents.” We’re not losing our marbles, we’re being embraced and converted to dollar signs, for wag’s sake! With the American Pet Products Association reporting an estimated $52 billion projected to be spent in the pet industry in 2012 alone, I realize I am not alone. Hello brands, it’s me, the dog mom, hug me.
Sixty-five percent of Americans are parents to some form of pets: from dogs and cats to fish and ferrets. Considering the American Pet Products Association estimates that $56 billion dollars will be spent in the pet industry in 2013, pet bloggers are industry influencers. Brands are now taking notice, sitting up, and perking their heads sideways to get a piece of the pet blogging pie.
Pet bloggers do not go gently into the night: In fact, we start petitions and we get people to notice us. Mary Haight of Dancing Dog Blog and Animal Café knows all about this. Thanks to a petition she began, nearly 50,000 signatures were collected asking PetLand to stop selling live animals. The Huffington Post named the petition as one of their favorites. Not bad for a dog mom, eh?
Last but not least, the piece de resistance: Dog moms and dads go to pet blogger conferences, where the life of yours truly was changed in 2009. I walked through the doors of a conference, held my head high, felt a twinge of nervousness in my stomach, but wanted to see “what this pet blogging talk” was all about. I left a changed woman. Oh, and the entire event of almost 500 people, dozens of brands, and a weekend of seminars and knowledge-based sessions was pet friendly. I sat with my dog near my feet as my life changed. Talk about a full circle moment. I will return to the BlogPaws in Tysons Corner, Virginia from May 16-18 and learn, grown, network, and engage with people and brands just like me: the dog mom.
“We’re consumers – we party, we shop, we bathe, we walk our dogs in strollers, we do all the same things mommy bloggers do,” BlogPaws’ co-founder, Yvonne DiVita shared. “Our community is on the pulse of all things pet: from dogs to cats, rabbits to ferrets, and everything in between.”
The proof is in the numbers for some. Over 5,000 buyers representing 65 countries attended Global Pet Expo recently, the pet industry’s largest trade show spanning the size of 16 football fields. I was there. I walked amongst the throngs of people clamoring for the latest and greatest in pet products and services. Someone came back from that trade show and told their friends about those products, shared videos and pictures, tweeted and LIKED and then did it some more. Guess who? Me and the my posse of pet bloggers and dog moms and dads who want purchase influencers to know we’re more than the human holding the other end of the leash.
We shop. We buy. Some of us even tuck their kids dogs in at night. I’m a dog mom and I’m here to stay.
Happy Mother's Day to all dog moms of the world.