In 1971 David Bowie sang “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” referencing the frequent and rapid transformations that he noted in society. When I reflected back on those psychedelic years I started to realize that despite being a loyal companion, canines were certainly not treated as “man’s best friend.” I know people were supposed to be “tuned in” during this decade but clearly they were turning to the wrong channel, or maybe they couldn’t find their way to the television to begin with…but I digress. My point is, I don’t think anyone from that era could imagine how dramatically (and wonderfully) different a dog’s role is in today’s family.

If I Could Turn Back Time

Forty years ago it was the norm to let your dog roam around town looking for a good time. After cavorting around the neighborhood with other loose(literally and figuratively) canines, they meandered home. Home being outside your house, in a doghouse. I am not talking a custom made house with a heated interior. I am talking about a plywood house, with a mat inside, the kind Snoopy lived in. That kind. And let’s talk about dinner. This was table scraps or maybe that highly questionable red can of Alpo. It was not brown rice and organic chicken. Premium dog food would never fly back in the day, and brands like Blue Buffalo and Taste of the Wild would probably be mistaken for a children’s book and a bachelor party in Vegas.

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Fast forward to 2019. Have you ever peered inside a stroller expecting to see a gurgling infant and been surprised to find a ball of fur with a pink bow instead? How about the holiday cards you’ll be getting in the next month? Happy Holidays! Love, Jonathan. Not Spot. Forget Fido. Human Names. Sometimes even regal ones like King George or the very proper, Mr. Tibbs. And it’s not just the monikers that have been transformed. Oh no. Our canine companions have prescription diets, go to daycare, wear costumes, and enroll in school. They also have health insurance and go for dental cleanings. They get massages, and have treatments like Reiki and acupuncture. No doubt about it, most dogs today are living a life that would make even Lassie jealous.

Temple of the Dog

Some say an increase in empty nesters with disposable income has brought about the spike in dog ownership, pet products, and related services. While I don’t disagree, as a full nester with a not so disposable income, I believe that the answer doesn’t just lie in socioeconomics. Dogs fill a void that can seldom, if ever, be filled by even the most attentive partner or the dearest best friend. Upon your arrival home, a dog greets you as if you’ve been gone on an epic journey, even if that journey was only to Target. They don’t care if you forgot to shower, or haven’t gotten a pedicure in months. They don’t talk back or criticize, and most importantly, they love you unconditionally. People view their dogs as their confidantes, workout buddies, and an integral part of their family.

Seasons Change...People Change

So let’s be honest, dogs have not changed. They have always been amazing. From *Balto’s tenacity as a sled dog who delivered life-saving medication to the people of Alaska in 1925, to the military, police, and service dogs of today, dogs have consistently made our world a better place. Canines have always displayed loyalty, bravery, and most importantly, love. So, what has changed? The answer is society. The fast paced world we live has most of us running double time with hardly any time devoted to savoring the moment. In addition, technology has successfully removed the main component of human relationships: physical contact. We text people and send emojis, but what we really crave is a tangible connection. And what other animal has the ability to press our pause button? Only the dog. They are masters at getting our attention with a jump, a paw, a nudge or a slobbery kiss. They look us in the eye and hang on our every word. They are never in a rush. Dogs force us to slow down, laugh, and appreciate the world as they see it. Simply. Dogs know how to treat each other and us. It’s people that need to keep on changing. Just let the dogs lead, they know what they’re doing.

Written by: Lynn Velluzzi (Hoofer by day/ Blogger by night)

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