Celebrate Pet Parents Day if your kid has four legs
April 25, 2008
“Do you think the dogs will do anything for us this Sunday?” I asked Husband-Head. “It’s our special day, you know.”
Husband-Head looked at me as if I were speaking Swahili.
“What in the world are you talking about?” he said, shaking his head. “Our anniversary isn’t until July and I’m pretty sure the pets aren’t real aware of it.”
Clearly he wasn’t informed.
“I’ve got an e-mail here that says the last Sunday in April will mark the first National Pet Parent’s Day,” I explained. “It’s a day in honor of people who consider their pets to be part of the family.”
“Don’t tell me ” Hallmark came up with it to sell more cards,” Husband-head scoffed. “What a scam.”
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But it wasn’t Hallmark. The day is being designated by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), which claims to be the oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance in the country.
“For all the poop you’ve scooped; for all the treats you’ve given; for all the sleepless nights you’ve been crowded out of bed,” the e-mail card from VPI read. “We honor you.”
I remember several years ago telling my best friend, Marianne, that I had taken out two policies with VPI.
“You have health insurance on your DOGS?” Marianne had laughed. “I don’t even have insurance on my kids!”
But according to VPI, research on the human-animal bond shows that many people consider themselves pet parents.
“A recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association indicates 83 percent of pet owners consider themselves their pet’s mom or dad,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.
I could understand that. Husband-Head and I have always referred to ourselves as “Mama” and “Papa” when talking to the dogs.
“Go wake Papa’s happy butt up!” I’ll instruct the dogs on a Saturday morning.
And somehow they know to go up the stairs and into the bedroom where they begin to poke and prod at him with their paws.
“You sent them up here, didn’t you?” Husband-Head will scream. “Now they’re putting their noses in my arm pits!”
But it’s about time we pet parents got our own day. Human parents get Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. As far as I’m concerned, being a pet parent isn’t a whole lot different from being a human parent. We feed them, bathe them, clean up poop and vomit, give them “cookies,” take them to the doctor, discipline them and shower them with love and kisses.
VPI says that many of their policyholders “emphatically label their pets as children.”
“Then how come they’re not tax deductible?” Husband-Head challenged when I told him. “VPI needs to report those results to the IRS so we’re not SOL on the tax write-offs.”
A survey also indicated that many pet parents demonstrate parental behavior by doing things like buying presents for their pets on holidays. Let’s just say the makers of those Christmas stockings filled with chew bones and squeaky toys aren’t stupid.
Some people even designate a seat at the dinner table for their pets.
“Oh for the love of Pete, the dogs sit on the floor and stare at us, waiting for something … anything to fall off our plates,” Husband-Head said with shock. “Why would you possibly want to encourage that behavior?”
I tried to imagine our two big yellow Labs ” Weber and Wyatt ” each sitting on a chair at the table, cloth napkins tied around their necks and a plate of kibble in front of them. Or a hamburger. Or chicken Cordon Bleu.
Others give their pets a role in special family occasions such as weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, funerals or bailing a beloved one out of jail.
A poll of VPI policyholders show that “56 percent of pet owners sleep in the same bed as their pets.”
“The pet owners sleep in the pet’s bed or the pets sleep in the pet owner’s bed?” Husband-Head asked. “But it seems we’re not the only ones fighting for bed space at night.”
And then 23 percent take their pets on family vacations.
The idea of seeing pets spinning around in the teacups at Disneyland was a little frightening.
Nevertheless, I insisted that we celebrate National Pet Parent’s Day.
“And how do you propose we do that?” Husband-Head asked.
I didn’t say anything as I set four places at the dinner table …
Heidi Rice is a staff writer for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her website at http://www.heidirice.com.
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