Americans have special love for pets

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017

As I have written in a previous column, Americans truly love their pets. Some pets actually live a better life than many humans.

It is not uncommon to even hear of pets being included in the wills of the deceased. They fight with us in wars — sniffing out bombs and other potential dangers to their caregivers. They are a genuine part of law enforcement. A lawbreaker harming a police K-9 animal can end up facing a stiff fine, and even time behind bars.

Movies and television shows are even made about our love affair with animals.

Remember the popular 1950s TV program about a collie named Lassie? The success of the program resulted in kids around the country wanting the breed.

Animals are, in fact, an integral part of our lives. They provide invaluable company to the infirmed. They facilitate mobility for the blind and are a comfort to the lonely. Our fascination with animals is an indescribable bond that often results in our attributing to them unimaginable talents, especially psychic abilities.

As an example, some animal lovers believe that horses and dogs have the instinctive ability to determine when someone is afraid of them and will respond erratically.

I love dogs, but I’m horrifically afraid of cats. Although my fear is not based on facts, I believe that cats are disloyal to their owners, constantly looking for the right moment to attack their caregiver.

I recently adopted a new pet, a wonderful lab-terrier mix. I named him “Homeless,” after my deceased dog and friend, that provided me with more than eight years of comfort and loyalty. We had a special agreement. If he pooped in the house, his name would become his status. He was popular with my neighbors and friends, some of whom would ask to keep him when I traveled.

My new dog Homeless, now about a year old, is in need of a therapist. He has developed a very bad habit. He only barks at me. If I leave him outside too long, he will pout, growling for several minutes after entering the house.

He is definitely not a guard dog. A visitor can ring my doorbell, with him sleeping in front of the door, and he will not move. With all of his idiosyncrasies, I love this mutt still. Like many pet owners, while out shopping I always find something that might be of comfort and satisfaction to my new friend.

In fact, Americans love their pets. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird, snake, Americans tend to treat them as a member of the family.

It is said that two thirds of American households (about 71.1 million) have at least one pet in the home according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

In 2007, pet owners spent over $41 billion to maintain their health, to feed them, and even to clothe them.

Dr. Glenn Dowell is an author and columnist who currently lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been a guest speaker on major college campuses , including having appeared on TV programs suchas the Oprah Winfrey Show. He may be reached at