Pet Subject

20 09 2012

The recession must be over, folks. I’ve heard the economists telling me this for at least a couple of years. Never mind that all the important indicators, like housing starts and unemployment, are tepid at best. No, the real indicator is that the pet cemetery business is on a tear.

Apparently things aren’t so bad all over after all. Now please don’t slip on my sarcasm.

At first bark, it might seem this is just another example of a frivolous nation demonstrating its misspent wealth. After all, ceremonies and burial plots for Fido and Garfield? Don’t we have mortgages to try to get above water? Donït we have kids to send to college, retirement accounts to feed?

And what does it say of our priorities regarding the humans in the family?

But I took the time to think about this one all day. My family may not have purchased pet burial services before, but we have held enough paws across our precious companions’ lives slipped away. We have our own pet cemetery on our rural acreage. Heck, we once owned 12 dogs at one time. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

If anything, this trend says something of our need for a different type of friend, one that does not talk back, never argues, and forgives and forgets by the time you get home from work. Our culture is one increasingly filled with road rage, estrangements, job insecurities, financial crises. And our pets? They will listen to our every word, and lick our face when we’re through pouring out our heart. And of us what do they ask? Food. Water. And a belly rub.

No, I don’t this trend is frivolous at all, nor does it necessarily signal a return to economic prosperity. If anything, it symbolizes a deeper problem, a social poverty from which it is hard to escape, and if in lavishing our pets upon their departure we incur expense, so be it. Maybe we just need our pets, and our fond farewells are a form of therapy, a cathartic moment, fitting memorial to a cat or dog that accepted us as we are, loved us anyway, and woke up each day ready to do it all again.

Sure, this is a marketing opportunity writ large, and only a fool would look something like this in the face. There’s money to be made in the sorrow business. And while I have yet to pay to permanently inter a pet, I know that I have spent thousands of dollars in vet bills through the years to save my faithful animals. As for those who do give their dogs and cats a decent burial, I have no bone to pick.

It’s a small price to pay to honor a friend.

Dr “Who Wants A Treat?” Gerlich


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