Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pimp my pooch

In which Going Green Mama inevitably ticks off a pet owner.

Growing up, I always considered my dog part of our family. And she thought she was people too.

Today, it's taken to a whole new level.

Our pampering and giving ourselves what we "deserve" doesn't stop with us. Our four-legged friends are getting better treatment than you'd believe. Manicures. Massages. Bling. Imported wool sweaters to keep them cozy. And being medicated with their own flat-screen TV to alleviate boredom while at doggie day care.

Spoiled pooches are nothing new. But I was shocked to read yesterday that pet owners spent $51 billion - yes, that's with a b - on pet stuff last year. That's far more than meals and a cozy bed or house to sleep in.

In fact, "That's more than they spent -- combined -- on movies ($18.5 billion), video games ($25 billion) and digital music ($5.2 billion)," the reporter wrote.

Have we lost so much of our senses and become so obsessed with crap that we need to overwhelm our pets as well? Where does it all stop?

What if we took one tenth of that excess and gave it to supportanimal shelters or programs to stop animal cruelty? Or heaven forbid, help people in a time where at least one in 10 of your neighbors is still out of work?

So today, I'm pitching an idea: Hold off on a tiny piece of excess. Maybe it's the designer doggie treats. Or a people treat if you're a non-pet owner. Take that $5, that $10, that $20 and use it instead to make a difference. Just imagine the impact we could make!

Readers: I'm challenging you to do this - and share how this little change helped our world!


Anonymous said...

I love it when people judge how others spend their money. Vet care is very expensive, that's likely why the amount spent on pets is so high. I can't seem to get out of the vet's without a $200 bill these days.

On the dog daycare issue, I have two dogs and send them to dog daycare twice a week. I see it as a win-win. My dogs have a fabulous time and it's very good for them to have the socialization and interaction. Plus, the money I pay to our locally owned dog daycare stays in the community, and the 11 employees there get to have a job. It's not buying "crap" - they provide a service that is valuable to me. I see it as being a green choice - nothing is produced and thrown away, and it's supporting local business and workers in my community.

In addition, I donate plenty to animal causes. But thanks for asking and being concerned.

How much do you spend on your kids? Shouldn't some of that money be directed to orphans? Oh - is that an inappropriate question? Can you see how I feel the same way about your question about my pets?

Kelly @ Ahimsa Mama said...

I do have to agree that veterinary care is pretty outrageous, and probably represents a pretty large chunk of that number.

But I also agree that *some* people take things pretty far with their companion animals just like with anything else. I'm all for treating our companion animals well, just like I'm all for treating human animals well, but within reason.

But this blog advocates thrift overall, not exclusively as it relates to companion animals. The tone of this particular post did come across as a little judgmental, but the message seems pretty valid: in all areas of life, practice simplicity and if you have anything left over, share it with others in need to make their lives better!

Robbie @ Going Green Mama said...

My concerns have less to do with healthcare, feeding of pets, etc., than with stuff. The article I read and referenced talked about pet pampering as a whole. Since when do we need to give our dogs a massage? Or jewelry? Or pedicures? Not to say these are not job producing, etc., but just wondering if there are better ways for all of our - non-pet owners included - to spend our dollars.

Anonymous, you ask how much I spend for kids. They're fed, they have shelter, they get relatively few toys at Christmas and at birthdays. They're not overscheduled; they are in one sports activity at the parks department (cost $40/season) and scouts. Instead, we look for ways to enrich their lives while (hopefully) teaching them in the end that it's not just all about them and there are many ways, big and small, we can reach out to help the world.

Simply Authentic said...

I actually think this post is fabulous and with an incredibly valid point. I have complete LOVE and appreciation for our many pets---we treat them well, love on them, feed them, and ensure that the dogs are up-to-date on their meds. Eat dog has one collar that she wears til it's disgusting--and we have one set of leashes for each vehicle. One dog bed per dog and a bag of bones to last 1-2 months. We don't do extra toys, blankets, etc. And we go for the cheapest vet care, but have an agreement not to take extraordinary measures for any of our animals---and this mainly comes from hub being a farm kid---his notion of a "pet" is much different. We don't consider our animals to be our kids and we hate when people call them that--they are our dogs, our cats, and our chickens. I will love on my pet like crazy, but they're still animals. I don't see the need to buy them extras when just like most the people I know their favorite gifts are extra time and attention bestowed upon them..... Nicely put in your post....and you didn't even take on the topic of paying for purebreds vs adoptions. ;)

Laura said...

Hmmm... I often say that if we had had it do over again, we would have taken some time to think before we got our dogs. Both dogs were purchased impulsively. Nunzio caught my eye walking through the dog pound and Vito was the result of a life-long wish of my husband's to have a pug. We didn't choose them to be responsible or thrifty. I wanted babies and this was the best way to do it when we had only been married a month. :)

Nunzio and Vito were in our home less than 24 hours before we realized that Nunzio who had come into my life because someone threw her in a ditch had PARVO. I would have spent thousands of dollars to fix her. I didn't care that I spent 3 days with no sleep holding a vomiting dog. I wanted her better. I was stupid and uneducated about bringing dogs into our home but in the end she rallied and we got to have our own little family.

All that to say, there aren't tons of toys scattered around the house and I clip their nails myself. As I type this, Vito is guarding my chair and Nunzio is curled up with my husband watching a movie. Our dogs are a part of our family, but we don't really splurge on ourselves, so they get the same treatment... simple and considerate. Pets are a beautiful part of our family... our pug, Vito, was bred but had "cosmetic problems" so he was considered a mistake. We LOVE him. Our children LOVE him. No one cares about his imperfections. Nunzio has taken nearly 6 years to really learn to trust us and even though she is often afraid of our toddler, she is sweet and tender enough to let my 9 month old baby "pet" her. Neither dog cares if they have shoes or pedicures or spa treatments. Pets are not accessories as that article would have lead me to think a large percentage of the population believes. They need love, shelter, and care. Not bling.

Eco Yogini said...

we spoil our two cats- but with an eco-bent. as in: they get grain-free canadian food (in combo w the medical urinary SO they have to eat boo :( ), a stainless steel water fountain (that will curb future vet bills since they drink WAY more water) and eco-friendly cat treats.

We also bought them a pricey cat tree that will last forever.

But no toys (they love paper and our friends give them their cat hand-me-downs), no pedicures none of that.

I agree that vet bills can be expensive (and we only bring our cats in for emergencies- we clip their own nails too!) but i also agree that our culture is making a few steps into considering pets as people. they aren't.

PamKay said...

Owning a "green" pet toy company (dye free, certified organic natural fibers, handmade with USA labor, blah, etc, blah) company I hear these debates all the time. Some "green" people believe simply owning "feeders" who don't "produce" is a non green situation. I feel, needless to say, this is a sterile argument which edits out the deep heart changes that occur when you love and live with non human species. Love and life can not be calculated in economic terms and then still allow for the extension of compassion and respect to the beings living with us on our planet-- this position has inherent flaws as noted by the comment about kids and orphans by anonymous. I think what is most important is that sustainable values be reflected throughout our lives.
We work hard to educate pet families on the risks of plastics, PFC's, hormone disrupters, etc. These fragments of information sometimes hit the mark and stick because of the love people have for their pets-- I see distinct moments of awareness- people get it when it comes down to the simplicity of their cat's hyperthyroidism and the BPA lining of the cat food cans or the decreased immune response of a dog who has been sleeping on a scotch guarded bed for years. Pets have compressed lives (sadly for many companions) and they are very much the canary in the coalmine-- nose deep in the molecular waste of our lifestyle choices.
So--I totally get the waste in our culture-- the resource spent for pretty terrible pet products, etc.-- but I don't fault the love given to our pets-- I think we just need to make more educated and kinder choices.
Additionally, I have an odd belief. I believe the collective conscious "Mother" wants us to understand that humans are part of the world- that we are not the only important beings on the planet. The growing love of pets and animals is one way to raise our consciousness--a way for us to bond more deeply with the world we live in.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Okay, not arguing with ANYTHING anyone has said...

I just feel the need to point out that keeping pets' nails trimmed is actually a health and safety issue, and when I get that done at the vet's the procedure is billed as a "pedicure."

I'm just sayin'. :-)

(Love the post!)

Cherie said...

Two and a half years ago, after having returned from my first visit to Haiti, I visited a pet superstore to buy food for my dogs and cat. I was overwhelmed by the junk that I saw on the shelves. The worst was the costumes and clothes. All I could think was that we have starving people (and animals) in the world and we are busy buying things our pets don't want and don't need. I love your question: "Have we lost so much of our senses and become so obsessed with crap that we need to overwhelm our pets as well?" Unfortunately, I think that the answer is "yes." Animals do need food, shelter, bedding, and veterinary care. But they don't need headbands with bobbles on them.


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