Dogs are everywhere. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are approximately 68 million owned dogs in the U.S., about 40 percent of all households. That’s a lot of tail wagging and Frisbee chasing!
Of course, dogs are also a big part of our popular culture. Iconic canines like Lassie, Snoopy, Rin Tin Tin, and Benji set the gold standard for all other pooches, and recent best-sellers like Marley & Me have almost single-handedly created a new non-fiction genre, Canine Lit.
Yes, in magazine lingo, dogs are hot. The “in” thing. The cat’s meow. OK, let’s not go there…
I’ve owned two dogs in my 40 years. My childhood dog, Mack, was a cocker spaniel/poodle mix and went everywhere with my brothers and me. We dressed him up, put him on our sleds, and made up funny songs about him. By the time we’d all moved on to college, girlfriends, and first apartments, Mack had finally given in to old age after a long and gentle life.
My latest dog, Snickers (see my editor’s column from January 2007 for the story about how we got her), is a Yorkshire terrier/Jack Russell terrier mix. And, yeah, I know, that’s a lot of terrier for one dog! She’s a great companion, though, and my daughter loves her more than I probably realize. Allyson dresses her up, puts her in a wagon to wheel her around the house, and makes up funny songs about her. I’m expecting an art series soon. Even my wife’s coming around to the idea of sharing our home with our furry little friend.
Yes, Snickers has changed our lives.
For me, she’s also unlocked a dog culture that’s bigger than I’d ever imagined. I know the dog owners in the office; I’ve had lengthy discussions with dog owners in stores and waiting rooms; and I get lots of broad smiles and friendly hellos whenever I take Snickers on our morning walk through the neighborhood. Of course, she’s oblivious to all the attention, too preoccupied with nervous squirrels and curious cats.
We even took Snickers on her first vacation recently. We discovered at the last minute that our villa was pet-friendly and didn’t think twice about taking her along. She had a blast chasing waves and barking at strange coastal birds.
Yes, dogs have been a big part of my life and will be, God willing, for many years to come. Of course, we know dogs may be a big part of your life, too, so that’s why we’re devoting a special editorial section in this issue to our four-legged friends. Our staff has enjoyed selecting the winning contest entries and staging our own “puppy party.” We hope you enjoy them.
And I think even Lassie would approve.
All my best,
Facts About Fido
Owned dogs in the United States.
Households that own at least one dog.
63% Of those, households with one dog.
25% Two dogs.
13% Three or more.
Owned dogs that were adopted from an animal shelter.
On average, what dog owners spent on veterinary-related expenses in the past 12 months.
Owned dogs that are spayed or neutered.
U.S. adults (about 14%) who have traveled with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more in the past three years.
Sources: The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association and the Travel Industry Association