February 20, 2021 is Love your Pet Day
For those of us crazy about our gerbils, birds, dragons, b
unnies, ferrets, hamsters, fish and oh yes cats and dogs, every day is a day to love our pets. But it’s nice to have one special day during the year to celebrate them and show them how we feel about them, and Love your Pet Day is it. Kind of the pet version of Hallmark Cards.
Hallmark did create holidays (Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents Day,...) but they don’t seem to have caught on to Love Your Pet Day yet, and considering that pet lovers spent $70 billion on our furry loved ones in 2017, they seem to be missing a market. So if Hallmark didn’t create it, what did?
As far as we can tell, Love Your Pet Day was not created by any decree. It is not “National” officially, having not been enacted into state legislators or nationally by an act of the U.S. Congress. The celebration seems to be a natural outgrowth of our growing relationship with animals. That relationship started a looong time ago.
12,000 years ago cats and dogs were buried in human burial sites. European royalty kept toy dogs in the 1600’s., but ancient Chinese royalty bred the Pekingese as attack dogs. Don’t laugh. The most vicious dogs were kept hidden in the sleeves of ceremonial robes, and w
hen danger threatened the little dogs were released on the perpetrator. The bird markets of Seville were popular up until the 60’s. Now what about cats, you say? The Egyptians domesticated cats around 1500 B.C and in fact worshipped many cat gods and goddesses. Here in the U.S., cats remained largely outdoor animals until well into the 1900s, when clay kitty litter made it more feasible to keep them inside.
Modern times have seen the acceleration of our relationship with our pets, and therefore the establishment of events and many commemorative days leading up to what has become Love Your Pet Day. On March 24, 1925, the first World Animal Day took place in Germany, founded by writer and animal activist Heinrich Zimmermann. Another seeming progenitor of Love your Pet Day is National Dog Day, one among many animal commemorative days created by Colleen Paige, pet activist, adopted in 2004. Love your Pet Day seems to have morphed from that. The celebration of this unofficial holiday has come about as more and more people have adopted pets into their lives. 85 million families own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association.
Why do so many Americans own pets? According to a rece
nt survey from TOP Agency, here are the Top 5 Reasons Americans love their pets:
#1: My pet gives me unconditional love (22%).
#2: My pet helps comfort me when I’m sad (17%).
#3: My pet makes me look forward to going home (13%)..
#4: My pet helps me become a more loving person (10%).
#5: My pet teaches me to be more patient (10%).
The celebration of a special day probably involves doing something different than routine life with your pet. According to the same survey, the Top Ten ways respondents show affection to their pets are:
#1: I play with my pet (15%).
#2: I give my pet treats and gifts (13%).
#3: I cuddle with my pet (12%).
#4: I tell my pet, “I love you” (10%).
#5: I watch tv (read books) with my pet (10%).
#6: I let my pet sleep in bed with me (9%).
#7: I carry on conversations with my pet (9%).
#8: I kiss my pet (9%).
#9: I go places with my pet (5%).
#10: I dress my pet in costumes (2%).
These are national percentages. But consider polling questions – did they ask the same question to the owners of Komodo dragons and fish as the owners of dogs and cats? 40% of households have dogs. 25% have cats. Then it drops way off, to 8% for fish, 4% for birds, and for small pets 2%. Most importantly, did they include in their sample residents of Western North Carolina? Sleeping with dogs isn’t 9% here!
The benefits of pets have become well known and well documented. Pets have been shown to strengthen the immunity of children. Owning a pet can lower blood pressure, Walking a dog can help a person maintain or lose weight. Pet Facilitate Therapy (PFT) in hospitals and nursing homes has become common, as pets help relieve depression.
So how will you show some special love to your pet on Love Your Pet Day? Go to a different place? Even a fish would probably like a different view. Car ride? Go to the beach? New toys – really high value treats and food – a new sweater or raincoat – or just a hug. A big hug.