Tag: millennials

How I Joined the Internet of Pets

A mere nine months ago my Facebook feed was a jaded and pessimistic place.  Nobody wanted to visit my home page, least of all me.  And the real world didn’t feel much better.  Outside the office I was making few social connections. I was living in a sad, political bubble.  Then, I discovered the internet of pets, and everything changed.  Or almost everything.  My home page is still a place few people visit.  But for me and my 87 followers on Instagram, the world is now undeniably a happier place.

The Political Bubble

Back in those days when I skulked in the darker corners of social media where the serious news hangs out and political partisans go to troll each other to the point of suicide, the internet of pets was no more to me than an overheard giggle from a nearby work cubicle.  “Hey, did you see that great kitten video I sent you?” a friend would ask.  I would smile and nod.  “So cute!”  But I was rolling my eyes inside.  Kitten video, Bah humbug!  Just another unwanted distraction from my search for the secret to bringing people together in a divided and hostile world.

My perspective changed entirely one day when I was out walking the dogs.  After the 5th or 6th person stopped us on the street to pet the dogs and tell me about their own pets, I realized that pets unite people in a way that hobbies, work, and families don’t.  The love of animals connects people in an apolitical and largely egalitarian way. Pets break down social barriers and build community.  Within a month I had tiptoed into the internet of pets with KC Pet Collective.

The Internet of Pets

The internet of pets is serious business.  There are thousands of pet blogs and social media accounts in the US.  The largest accounts have a million or more followers. There’s even a new term for these animal media giants: Petfluencers.  Marketing research indicates that 44% of Millennials view their pets as children.  They engage with brands and other pet parents online as much as parents of human children do.

As a blogger trying to grow an engaged online community, I began to spend more time reading and responding to animal-related posts of all kinds.  Those kitten videos my friends sent me were opened and shared with new friends.  Engagement online led to participation in real-time as I began to get out in the community to attend and cover pet-friendly events.

The Pet Bubble

Gradually, I replaced my political bubble with a pet bubble.  The more pet posts I read, the more pet posts came to my feeds.  Today, I am a proud participant in the internet of pets.  It’s a kinder net where polite discussion, shared enthusiasm, and positive energy is the norm.  Something about pets keeps the trolls away and deflects our meaner human instincts.

I don’t miss the “serious” news.  I don’t get tired of seeing animals of all sorts come across my screen throughout the day.  Every pet is different, and the photography is often stunning and surprisingly professional.  Each image of a beloved pet inspires joy.  I keep up with the headlines on my own schedule, but I let the pet posts come freely to my feeds and inbox.

As I contribute in a small way to the internet of pets through KC Pet Collective,  I hope to build a community of pet lovers and the local businesses who serve them.  To my 88 (I got one more while I was writing this) Instagram followers, I say, “Thanks for being part of the community!”  For the rest of you, I look forward to seeing your pet videos and photos online.  And if you follow me on Instagram, @kcpetcollective,  I won’t hate you.

 

 

 

Don’t Move to the Suburbs to Please Your Pet. City Dogs May Be Happier.

Millennials are buying suburban houses to please their pets. But does the change in lifestyle really benefit their dogs?  Probably not. Here’s why city dogs may be happier.

According to a recent report in Time, millennials are leaving cities to buy homes in the suburbs because of their dogs.  There’s a perceived benefit to larger homes and big yards. But the benefit may be more about convenience for the humans than happiness for the dogs.  We have kept dogs in rural, suburban, and city environments.  Here are four reasons we think our dogs are happier in the city.

1. The walkies

Walks are the number one reason city dogs may be happier.  As apartment dwellers, we spend more time walking our dogs each day than we ever did in the suburbs.  This means not only more exercise for all of us, but more time spent interacting with our dogs.  Walkies are mandatory, and the dogs allow no procrastination.   In addition to quick trips down to the dog park for sanitary purposes and play, we also make several long walks around the city each week.

Although suburban areas may boast more dedicated walking trails, neighborhoods within cities are often better connected by sidewalks and other pedestrian ways.  From our front door, we can walk for miles in almost any direction and never leave the sidewalk.  Public green spaces and dog parks are concentrated into a smaller area and are more accessible by foot in urban areas.  Unlike the suburbs, cities offer diverse sights and experiences for both pets and people.

Dogs walked in crowded urban spaces often require more training and better leash skills than their suburban counterparts.  Dogs enjoy learning and need to be challenged throughout their lives.  Daily walks provide a time for reinforcing leash training and building a stronger human/dog bond.

2. The dog-friendly spaces

There are more dog-friendly public spaces within walking distance in the city.  City dogs enjoy spending more time with their parents on the patio at local coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.  Most dog-friendly eateries offer fresh water for pets, and many provide treats for their canine patrons, too.

3. The socialization

City dogs get more socialization opportunities than suburban dogs.  Dog parks are increasingly offered as an amenity in rental communities.  We are among the growing number of renters with access to a private dog park.  As a result, our dogs interact with other dogs every day.  And because city dwellers generally have smaller homes and must be more conscious about separation-related behavior issues, city dogs are more likely to go to day care when their parents are away.

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4. The tribe

Most city dogs end up with their own tribe of ardent fans.  Our dog Wesley is a crowd pleaser wherever he goes, and he thrives on the attention.  It’s safe to say that social dogs like Wesley get a lot of pleasure from interacting with a variety of people.  When handled appropriately, the increased exposure to many different people can help shy dogs become more tolerant and confident.

Does a Yard Really Make a Dog Happier?

The biggest downside for the city dweller is not having access to a yard.  Having a yard is undeniably much more convenient for dog parents.  There’s no need to rush outside with the dog in freezing weather or rain, and walks can be scheduled at the parent’s convenience, instead of through necessity.  However, the benefit of a yard to dogs is not as clear.

Having a yard means that a dog can go outside more frequently during the day.  Going outside more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog will get more beneficial exercise, especially if his owners forego regular walks.   Remember that dogs left to their own devices spend only about five minutes a day running and 68 minutes a day walking.  The majority of your dog’s day is spent sleeping or resting (about 19.4 hours), whether inside or out.

Giving a dog unsupervised access to a yard may lead to some unpleasant surprises.  The dog may dig or bark at passersby.  Even worse, the dog may get out of the yard and wander off.  Although there isn’t good data available, it seems more likely that a dog let out into the yard is more likely to escape than a city dog that is walked on a leash.

Your dog can be happy whether you choose to live in the city or in the suburbs.  It’s a mistake to think that suburban life on its own, will make your dog happier.  What is important is that you spend quality time with your dog every day.

What do you think?  Are you looking to move out of the city?  Are you living in the city and loving it?  Or are you and your dog sitting pretty in a suburban home?  Comment below to share your story.