I have a confession: I succumbed to a pandemic cliche back in January of this year. Approaching almost a year of pandemic life, we decided it was time to add a new family member — a four-legged one, to be exact.
This wasn’t our first foray into pet parenthood. We already had two dogs, male, middle-aged and mellowed. Our OG pet, Jack, is a 9-year-old lab mix — a food allergy-prone, overly excitable, tennis ball-loving, former eater of dry wall (and myriad other inedible substances). Then there’s Ollie, a Chihuahua mutt who is my constant companion — always underfoot, extremely overweight but constantly ravenous, and prone to the occasional “episode” and tripod-ing from an old hip injury in a past life.
What’s one more, we thought, added to the insanity? When else will we all be here, schooling and working from home? If we want another puppy, isn’t it the perfect opportunity to welcome a new member to the brood? No outfit is complete without dog hair, right?
Following our rounds of semi-logical, albeit biased, reasoning, we hopped onto the pandemic-fueled pet adoption bandwagon and began our search to give a third rescue a forever home. After scouring Petfinder.com for weeks and filling out every rescue’s adoption paperwork to be pre-approved, I happened upon a beautiful 9-week-old Doberman mix that I knew was the one. We drove two hours, across state lines, to pick up Shadow — our “emotional wellbeing investment,” as I dubbed her — and welcome her home.
Just under 1 year old now, her personality is still emerging, but thus far she is vocal, sweet, destructive, rambunctious and fun-loving. She loves new toys, easily gets carsick, enjoys harassing her older dog brothers and has earned the nickname Destructor, as she plays the lead role in destroying All. The. Things. No toddler toy, flip flop, plate of food, couch cushion or dog bed can stand in her way. She is a bad girl. But she’s also our fur baby and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
As you can probably tell — based off my extensive list of canine character traits and the attention I expend on these creatures — my dogs are part of the family. And I’m not alone in this thinking, as the humanization of pets has picked up considerable steam over recent years. This cultural shift in attitudes, mixed with the pet adoption boom of the pandemic, is resulting in a major growth period for the pet care market. In the November issue, we dive into the pet care industry and some standout trends that pet products manufacturers should have on their radars as they prepare to meet the increased demand and anticipate the emerging needs of pet parents and their furry offspring.
The pet care segment is evolving quickly (think new categories like wellness products and CBD for pets), and is estimated as an $80 billion category in the U.S. for 2021. By 2026, the global pet care market is forecasted to reach $241.1 billion. That’s a lot of kibble, collars and Kong balls — and, if my dogs have a say in it, plenty of plush toys with extra stuffing they can rip out and decorate the freshly swept floors with.