By Gerri Hunter
The toy and food industry for our pets is billions per year. We humans feel guilty if we do not treat our pets as our children. Pet food manufacturers have caught on and now help us feel guilty about the way our pets eat and play. We humans are now referred to as “pet parents” in national commercials on television. Gee, nothing like using a loaded word like “parent” to reel guilt-ridden humans into the offices of psychologists for therapy.
When did this change take place? I blame the whole mess on Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.
Strongheart, a German Shepherd from Germany, was a movie star in the 1920’s. He was so famous he owned his own home in the Hollywood Hills.
Rin Tin Tin, another German Shepherd, was rescued during World War I by an American soldier. Eventually, other shepherds were called by the same name, and starred in a television success story.
Lassie, the collie, was a fictional dog made famous in a short story. Then, of course, someone created a television series starting in 1954 featuring a real dog. Lassie became a household name. I think Lassie is the dog that made the most impression on our tiny minds. Lassie was amazing. There were always children in abandoned wells and cisterns and Lassie found them in time to save them. When Lassie came running home to the Martin farm to get human help, someone was always available to follow Lassie to the spot of danger.
This is when the delineation between mankind and our animals became fuzzy. Baby Boomers were children at that moment in human/pet history and you see what that did to the Boomers, don’t you? Boomer children sat nine inches from their television screens watching hero dog shows and slurping oatmeal. Boomers did not intend to lose their sanity at such a tender age. It just happened.
Boomers can’t wait to run to the nearest pet store and buy toys that squeak, burp, move and illuminate so their “pet children” are content. Ugh. “Oh, what a tangled web I weave when my pet’s needs are more important than me.”
And, don’t get me started on pet parents and their cats. I would discuss this at length with you now, but I must run to the store and get my Rottweiler a chew toy. He’s gnawing on my curtains as I type this, so I must not tarry.