Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Affluent Pets

Dog ownership is enjoying a renaissance after being banned in parts of China.

In Beijing, for example, there are now 900,000 dogs, their numbers growing 10 percent a year. One owner spends about $300 a month on his dog.

The Beijing government decreed in 1983 that they and seven other animals, including pigs and ducks, were banned from the city.

But with the improvement in the economy, people’s outlooks have changed. "There’s a lot of stress in people’s lives, and having a dog is a way to relieve it.”

However, there are other factors in dogs’ new found popularity: "Many owners also say China’s one-child policy has fanned enthusiasm for dog ownership as a way to provide companionship to only children in young households and to fill empty nests in homes whose children have grown up."

Moreover, some say dogs have become a status symbol where one can express individual taste by choosing different exotic breeds like the Tibetan mastiff. (image above)

"Mostly, though, it appears that Beijing dogs have, as in the West, become objects of affection — even devotion — by their owners." On a given weekend, hundreds of dog owners flock to Pet Park, a 29-acre canine spa east of the city, for example.

While I grew up on a farm, our family enjoyed a half dozen mixed breeds who never set foot in the house. Times have changed and for many they are family.

Via Michael Wines, New York Times