Baby Boomers and Our Pets

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I would guess that most Baby Boomers have a pet or two. Pets make good companions for empty nesters. They become our surrogate children. Whether it’s evening walks with the dog, curling up on the couch with a purring feline or just having another living, responsive thing in your abode if you live alone, pets become family. They are good for our souls and our health.

I’ve always wondered who is the master in my relationships with pets. I don’t know about you, but I’ve concluded that they train us. For example, pets quickly learn what it takes to get a treat, doing everything but dragging us to the kitchen or wherever their stash is. In case you don’t get the hint, they can become vocal about it. And get out of the way when dinner time rolls around.

I’m convinced that all pets have concealed watches. How else can they know when its time to get up in the morning or eat dinner? And I’m sure I’m not the only having to live with the outcry spawned by the end of Daylight Savings Time. Yea, try explaining that to your cat or dog!

Pets also learn the words that are important to them, like “walk,” “treat,” or “get the ball!”  Somehow, it seems to take a little longer to grasp the meaning of “NO!”

We have three pets – an old cat and two younger dogs – the cat rules. My wife, Mary, keeps falling in love with critters and bringing them home.  “Oh look how cute!  She won’t be a problem at all.”  Famous last words. Pets quickly become a lifetime commitment. And we are getting to that age where a young pet could actually outlive us, which is horrible for a pet. Next time, we going to the shelter to adopt an older critter in need of a good home.

Some days I feel like I’m living in a barn. Getting up in the morning can be dangerous. Not only do I have to avoid occasional land mines, but when it’s breakfast time the natives get restless and are not above pushing me along with little love bites. “FEED ME!  FEED ME NOW!” is not hard to interpret from their subtle barks and meows. So half asleep I go about my chores while my wife (the instigator of all this) sleeps in…what’s wrong with this picture? I live in mortal fear of a stampede.

Moreover, pets are not any cheaper than taking care of kids. My vet charges $500 to clean the cat’s teeth. After the last visit, I told Mary to just buy soft food hereafter as the cat is going to be gumming her dinner for the rest of her life. As it is, the dogs get our left-overs so we wind up buying larger portions to make sure there’s enough for them. I need Medicare for critters.

But we Boomers love out pets. I can’t imagine life without them. And I’m not the only one – According to Forbes, Baby Boomers now spend an astounding $68 billion on pets each year. As a generation, we grew up with household pets and the trend has stuck. But I’ll be damned if I’m giving up the drumstick on Thanksgiving this year!

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