After almost 40 years in the retail pet food and supply business, I believe we have seen just about every innovation, trend, and fad come and go in the industry. However, what stands out in my mind the most is the way people have come to highly regard their pets, and, consequently, drive our business.
I have come to conclude that pet stores such as ours are in many ways a reflection of our society and the times we live in.
Over the years, the dog has evolved from a simple pet to a significant member of the family and treated as such. Here are some of my observations that focus on the personification of pets:
1. Meet my new baby.
For many young couples, their puppy may be the first “infant” they experience. New puppy parents buy puppy playpens, teach potty training (formerly known as house breaking), and take their new baby to puppy kindergarten. There's even a puppy stroller to take the puppy for a walk.
2. If I won’t eat it, then neither will my dog.
Pet foods are produced and marketed to resemble human gourmet foods and snacks. Terms such as holistic, organic, home style, and tender cuts are commonly used. Even manufacturers’ names, such as Well Pet, Old Mother Hubbard, Chicken Soup, and Fancy Feast are created to appeal to the human consumer, giving the impression of home-cooked goodness. The list is endless. The trend also now includes foods formulated to address a variety of health issues, allergies being the most common.
3. Even the names have changed.
Identifying the breed of the dog has always been a creative challenge. However, dogs that were once referred to as “mixed breeds” or “mutts” are now referred to as more fashionable “designer breeds,” such as Labradoodles, Puggles, or Goldendoodles.
4. Holiday for Pup.
The family dog is certainly not forgotten on holidays. Christmas time is a bonanza for dogs who get to open their gifts while wearing their reindeer antlers. Halloween would not be the same without the tradition of dogs parading in their costumes. And for those of a religious faith, many churches offer the annual Blessing of the Animals.
5. Let’s grow old together.
For older folks, the dog can fill the “empty nest syndrome” and make great companions for the single adult. Older dogs share many of the same ailments and afflictions as their owners. As dogs and owners age, joint and bone issues have become commonplace, giving rise to a number of joint supplements, foods, and treats. “Doggie Diapers” are even available for urinary issues if necessary. Access to pet medical insurance plans help defray the cost of aging pets and are usually offered by many veterinarians.
6. We can bring Fido along.
Traveling with the pet has even become easier and safer with the use of seat belt restraints, car harnesses, car seats, and barriers for the SUV. Many hotels market themselves as pet friendly too.
7. Giving makes a difference.
The vast explosion of shelters, rescue groups, and the fundraisers that support them is yet another indication of the high regard and respect we have for our dogs, especially the ones in need. Customers have been quite generous to these charities, for there are a number in the Mid-Hudson Valley who need our support.
The pet business has become a tremendous worldwide industry. What people can spend on their pets can be quite extensive.
What the pets give back to us is priceless.
Stop by to see Ira for your pet needs at
6830 Route 9, Rhinebeck
or call 845-876-9000