November 6, 2017
I have come to accept that Murphy, our 85-pound golden retriever, is often more important than me. He is often invited, all 85 pounds of him, to climb into Eileen’s lap like a small Shitzu and plop himself down crushing her under the weight. If I tried that, I would be swatted on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. He is currently living in the RV with us and often under foot or in the way because he cannot be more than three feet from mommy. When I come to bed at night he often must be extricated from my spot in the bed and he sometimes looks at me as if to say, ”You’re kidding dude, right?”
Murphy is not alone. He is one of millions of pets who are not just family members but somehow have moved up the pecking order displacing human members of the family. “Humanization” of pets is a phenomenon that has been on the rise for the last twenty years. Over 65% of American households presently have at least one pet. A 63 billion dollar a year industry has blossomed around Fido and his pals.[i] That includes specialty store chains such as PetSmart and Petco as well as groomers, walkers, sitters and my favorites, psychologists and psychics. Chances are that Fido may have a connection to the world of psychopharmacology. Sometimes kitty may need a little Prozac to avoid shredding the curtains when you are at work.
And speaking of when you are at work. How many pet owners now own the technology to monitor the pet during the day and even speak to him using their cell phones. “ I see you Fido. Eating the garbage is not allowed. Bad dog!”
Of course, there have been extreme examples of “humanization” in the past. The best one that I am aware of is at a place on Moosehead Lake in Maine called Tomhegan Camps. Aside from sitting right on the Moosehead shore, the Tomhegan Camps are famous for the fact that the deer are somewhat domesticated and will come right up to your porch and eat out of your hand and allow their young do to do the same. The reason is that the former owner, Marjorie Spinney, who owned the camps from the 1930s until the 70s, would allow the deer into her cabin to lie on her bed and under the Christmas tree. Now that is an animal lover.
Many communities are recognizing the special place that dogs hold in many families and dogs have become more and more present in parks and at playgrounds as one of the kids. That has not been a popular idea for the dwindling number of those who are not enamored of dogs and do not want to be jumped on or have deposits left behind that are found by accident.
These pitched battles between community members has spurred the dog park movement. Any community, or campground for that matter, that does not have a dog park is suspect. No special area for the dog? Fortunately, the dog park concept is one thing that dog-lovers and non-dog-lovers can rally around. Although non-dog lovers would probably not normally vote for the expenditure in the town budget, it is probably seen as self-preservation and a good compromise.
We are still scoping out our adopted home for the winter and learning new things about Bonita Springs. In her travels today, Eileen found a nice dog park relatively close to where we are staying. It is a fabulous place with three separate areas divided between large, medium and small dogs. Each area provides space for running, doggie fountains, and the ever-important supply of poop bags. There are also facilities to shower the dogs as well as they slobber all over each other and roll in whatever is available.
Murphy was able to run and slobber all over a few other dogs his size. The dog owners were very nice and friendly. You have to be careful to actually learn the people names as often the owners are relegated to being Murphy’s mom, or Ellie’s mom. I guess it’s sort of like bringing the kids to the playground. I was going to say without the slobbering and rolling, but never mind.
Murphy was able to run for an hour and has been passed out since we got back. He has only moved to follow mommy as she moved four feet from the kitchen area to the living room. Maybe he will be too tired to climb into my spot on the bed tonight. Hooray for dog parks.
[i] Pet Care Industry and Analysis 2017– Cost and Trends, FranchiseHelp.com November 2017