You’ve Come a Long Way, Sparky

By Carol Bryant, FIDO Friendly magazine

More than a few years ago, Bob Dylan bellowed, “the times they are a’changin,” and those same sentiments ring true today as the journey of a new year begins. More than a few aspects of Fido’s life have changed over the decades.

Growing up, who amongst us remembers taking the family dog on summer vacations, walking the aisles of pet-oriented superstores or reading about canine couture at week-long fashion events in big cities? Few can admit to engaging in such Fido fun years ago, mostly because we, as a society, didn’t embrace such notions. We’ve come a long way, baby.

“Thirty years ago, you were called crazy if your pet was considered part of your family,” cohost of The Pet Doctor, Diane Levitan, DVM, said. “Today, dogs are treated like children—they go to daycare, are walked by pet sitters, live inside, sleep on the bed and are fed better foods.”

And dog lovers wouldn’t have it any other way.

A random search of ‘pet insurance’ online reveals dozens of companies in the business of providing health coverage to Fido in the same (and often better) way as his human counterparts. Levitan reported, “If an insurance company will pay up to 90 percent of a pet’s fees for an illness, pet owners are much more likely to allow the veterinarian to provide the optimal diagnostics and care for the pet.”

From specialists to specialty food, two of the biggest changes in Fido’s continuum these past 20 to 30 years are in healthcare and pet products. Pet trainer and behavior consultant, Marilyn Wolf, reflected on a few of the thousands of new products to hit the canine market in recent times. “Food-dispensing treats like Kong, pooper scoopers and cute clean-up bags, designer crates and bedding, even leashes and collars, these are all new in the last 30 years.”

Remember the tainted pet food scare of recent years? Demand for better products and many switching to a homemade diet for their dogs led to higher standards and a more consumer-driven quality pet food market. “(Pet) industries have begun to compete with each other for the best dog foods and best pet products. This competition results in the creation of excellent products for pets,” Levitan stated.

The birth of FIDO Friendly magazine ten years ago is another monumental reflection of the way we view our canine family members. “Traveling with your pet is one of the most rewarding experiences a pet guardian can have,” Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Sveslosky wrote in the inaugural issue of FIDO Friendly. The strength in those words has grown this past decade, with the Travel Industry Association of America reporting 78 percent of pets taken on vacation are dogs.

As we travel the roads of life, knowing our canine family members are not only welcome to explore sea to shining sea, but curl up next to us after a doggy massage and gourmet meal is certainly a reflection of a new era. Indeed the times are a ‘changin’ and from Fido’s vantage point, those changes have come a long way, baby.

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