Are We Over Scheduling Our Dogs?
The Wall Street Journal recently published an interesting look at empty nesters and their dogs. You can read the article online HERE.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which polled 80,000 families in 2007, parents over the age of 45 are by far the largest group of dog owners, at 24% of the total. And these empty nesters' dogs are filling the gap left by their grown children. Gone are the days of taking Timmy to soccer and guitar practice and Susie to swim team and acting lessons. The article found that 45+ pet parents are taking their dogs to doggy daycare, agility classes, dog parks, play dates, driving up to 150 miles on a weekend for events, and enrolling them in specialty dog sport classes. After her children left for college one woman is quoted in the WSJ article as saying "Holy Toledo, I've got a lot of time." Her dogs became her substitute children, and she now spends her time shuttling her furry family from activity to activity.
So my question is... have we gone too far? Come on, we've all seen the people who carry their perfectly-capable-of-waking-dogs around in baby slings. Case in point. Do we run the risk of becoming crazy dog people who over-schedule our dog's lives with enriching activities to fill some void in our own lives, or is it just all in good fun? Do the dogs really enjoy it or are they anthropomorphised?
Of course dogs benefit from socialization and exercise. We love them, and want to give them good, full lives. But are we at a point in "dog owning culture" where we do too much for our dogs and not enough for ourselves or our fellow man? And are all these activities and attention spoiling our dogs?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.