Are Your Pets Part Of Your Family?
by Jim McKiel

Our household consists of two sons with furry coats and four
legs each. Is this unusual? Not in a majority of homes that have
pets. Pets are considered family members and are treated as
such. Not only do we provide the basic necessities for our
beloved dogs, we also lavish love, attention and gifts upon our
furry family members.

Dogs have always been an integral part of a child’s life.
Growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, every home seemed to have a
dog included in the family structure at one time or another.
Dogs and kids playing together, going for walks or just hanging
out could be found in every town, city or village. Finding a
stray dog and bringing it home was not unusual, especially in
small cities or rural towns. Spaying and neutering your dog was
not at the top of the list for pet ownership during this time so
dogs and puppies were always in abundance. During this time dogs
were seen and treated as pets, not family members, especially by
the children’s parents.

Well the children grew up and their love of canines never
ceased. Now our pets live inside our home, sleep in our beds and
some even have their own couches. The dogs have toy boxes full
of balls, Kongs, tug toys and their own feeding stations. In
winter we buy our dogs fleece lined nylon all weather boots and
for hot summer pavement they are fitted with breathable Codura
boots with Velcro straps. Our loving companions are now fitted
with a microchip so we may locate them if they become lost. If
our dogs are unruly or not behaving as we think they should,
there are dog trainers that come to your home or we may send our
furry friends to a boarding facility to be retrained. There are
even doggie boot camps for the really stubborn dogs. Our dogs
visit vets for their yearly check up and get their teeth
cleaned. If your dog needs an x-ray, MRI, EKG or a cardiac
pacemaker implanted, it can be done. Our dogs are part of our
lives and families and we treat our pets as we would our
children. Yes, I do buy presents for my dogs for Christmas and
birthdays. I am also guilty of sending cards to people from my

Having a pet and making him a family member is a growing
transition. Just look at all the websites focusing on canines
and pet stores that cater to our canine companions. In homes
where the kids have grown up and left or where single or elderly
people live alone, dogs make good companions and keep people
from becoming lonely. Having a dog to talk to or keep you
company is good for your physical and mental health. People who
love animals are generally more pleasant to be around and not as
self centered.

Children who are raised in a home where there are pets (dogs,
cats, birds, fish etc) are more likely to allow their children
to have pets when they start their own families. If these young
people were taught the responsibilities of taking care of an
animal they know the hard work and also the rewards of raising a
dog or other such pet. Being kind, loving and taking care of
another life is the greatest lesson we can teach our children.
Providing for our pet’s care after our death is important. If
you have a loving, dependable friend or family member to take
the dog into their home would be a blessing. The dog will be
saddened by his owner’s death and will mourn his loss. If the
dog will be given a home by someone he knows this will help the
dog overcome his grief much faster and provide some stability in
his life. A family member or friend may love your dog and want
to care for him but may need financial help to provide for the
animal as you have done during your lifetime. You, as a
responsible owner, can provide for your dog’s upkeep by setting
up a pet trust. A pet trust is a legal way to set aside money
for your dog’s expenses and will be paid out by a trustee to the
person designated to care for your dog.

Humans who considered pets as family members used to be looked
upon as eccentric as having more money than sense. That is not
the case any longer. People are beginning to understand the
connection people have with animals and the love that binds
them. It has been proven that people in disaster areas
(hurricanes, floods etc) will not evacuate to shelters if their
pets can’t go. People have risked their lives to save their pets
from fires or floods. These are our four legged children. A pet
food maker in Japan gives employees money and gifts whose dogs
have birthdays or dies; just like they do for the people having
birthdays or new births in their families.

It has been estimated that Americans spend more then $37 billion
on their pets annually. This includes healthcare, food, toys,
books, training and clothing. That’s a lot of money spent on
just a dog.

About the author:
Jim McKiel lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Doris and
their pet family members Buddy and Buster. They have devoted
their lives to the betterment of pet ownership. For more
information, visit:

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