Thursday, March 20, 2014

Global Pet Expo: If loving dogs is wrong, we don't want to be right

This was going to be a simple review of Global Pet Expo. Pictures of our favorite products, lots of puppies (because PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!). You know, typical blog schlock.

Lulu poses in front of an overhead view of Global Pet Expo 2014.
Then this happened:
"The takeaway from the Global Pet Expo, at which 985 exhibitors of pet products were spread out over 13 football fields’ worth of real estate in the Orange County Convention Center here, is that Americans really love their dogs. And yet, perhaps as a result of so much love, those dogs are increasingly anxious, bored, overweight, messy and have terrible breath. They suffer from separation anxiety and they worry about thunderstorms, traffic noises, visitors and vacuum cleaners. Their joints ache, and they eat too fast; they chew the furniture and bedevil the neighbors with their barking. Also, drool happens." 
This comes from the New York Times article "Every Dog Has Its Daybed." It's a review of the Expo, but in my opinion it was a review that looked down its nose at pet owners -- and particularly dog lovers -- who are apparently killing our dogs with luxurious kindness.
Lulu takes a break at the Enchanted Home Pet booth.

What made it worse were the comments. "How dare we buy natural food and orthopedic beds for our dogs when there are starving kids? Why are we making slow-feed dog bowls when there's climate change? What about all those pets in the shelters?"

What. The. Hell?

You know, I admit it! Some people take this whole pet love thing a bit too far. People overdo it. Americans alone will spend well over $50 billion on pets this year.

But the majority of that, according to the American Pet Products Association, is food and veterinary care. Why food? Because people want to eat healthy, and they want to make sure their pets do too. We've had recall after recall, we've had dogs die from companies cutting corners. So people want to make sure their pet doesn't die horribly, and we're willing to pay more for that. So sue us.

Why veterinary care? Because pets are living longer and more people are making sure they're cared for. And more people are willing to try to fight illnesses like cancer and diabetes instead of grabbing the shotgun and taking the dog out by the wood shed. We're also getting more of our pets fixed so they don't have babies that end up in shelters.

$13.14 billion is what is being spent on over-the-counter meds and pet supplies. That's flea meds, toys, leashes, collars, and yes, orthopedic dog beds, sweaters, and anxiety coats (because lightning and fireworks are scary for dogs and no money spent on training or a behaviorist is necessarily going to help your dog overcome that!).

Sealy dog beds start at $99.
Here's what I also know.

I brought Lulu to Global Pet Expo two of the three days. I brought her because I actually feel more comfortable talking to some of these pet people when she's there. She's a great ice breaker. But people love her being there as much as I do. People come running up to pet her because they miss their dogs. They share their stories of their pets -- not only their current ones, but the dogs they had as a child. We bond over our pets.

Lulu gets spoiled. OH BOY does she get spoiled. She gets pets and treats and pets and treats and -- did I mention treats? I have to stop people from giving her treats because I don't want her to get sick.

These are people who love pets. But that's not all they love. Many love people. Families came to display products they were proud of. One teen even developed a product (ICPooch) herself, and her family was at Global to support her. This is because pets can draw families closer together.

Then there are those of us who don't have children. We have our pets. Our pets give us comfort when we don't have a person to do so.

And the notion that for every pet in a designer dress and a posh bed feasting on kibble there's a child in threadbare clothes going to school hungry is ludicrous. I won't pretend that there are people in this world who have their priorities screwed up, but so far I have yet to meet a human that puts their pet before their child.

Lulu checks out the treat display at the Merrick booth.
Just because I keep Lulu in fancy doggy treats doesn't mean I don't also donate to causes that help humans. I do. Why wouldn't we be able to do both?

And the group behind Global Pet Expo runs a whole charity that examines the human-animal bond and finds ways to strengthen it. Both humans and pets should have great lives and HABRI promotes that.

Then there were all the pet charities that benefitted because Global Pet Expo came to town. Florida Little Dog Rescue brought pets to be adopted. So did SPCA of Central Florida. Many groups got donations of food and pet supplies.

Rocco, the pup in the front, was up for adoption at Global Pet Expo.
Note that those last few points did not make it into the New York Times article.

So before you condemn people who will be buying some of these fancy products from big and little pet stores, Amazon and Etsy websites over the next year or so, just remember -- we aren't all Leona Helmsleys living our dogs millions. We are just regular folks who love our pets because they bring us closer to each other.

Elvis and the Hound Dog have left the building.


  1. "Just because I keep Lulu in fancy doggy treats doesn't mean I don't also donate to causes that help humans. I do. Why wouldn't we be able to do both?" EXACTLY!! Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone (human and non-human) was taken care of? I mean just because we love our pets doesn't mean we don't love humans. Some people just have to criticize. And those types of people would benefit from some serious dog cuddles!! Looks like you and Lulu had a great time at the expo.Have a lovely day!

  2. Love it and love the title of your post. Totally agree. I tend to believe that loving dogs opens the heart... and that good for everyone.

    1. It definitely makes it easier to reach out to people. One person whips out the doggy pics and we all start. It's a connection.

  3. Bravo! I love it. You hit the nail on the head. I am also tired of people judging us based what we do or do not do for our pets, in fact I just posted about it today on my blog. When I am with Dexter in public, so many people approach us because they want to pet him. He is 7 months, so he is shy, but people love to tell us that they had a beagle growing up and how much they loved them.

    1. I really should start collecting those stories too. It is amazing how many I've heard in my short time with Lulu.

  4. What an excellent post, Christie! Just because we love our pets and may spoil them a bit doesn't mean we can't be responsible! It was wonderful seeing you and Lulu there!!


Feel free to leave me feedbark!