Role of pets in weddings shows how far human-animal bond has come …

Pets are even taking part in weddings these days.

Today, I?m trying to picture my 114-pound Lab as a ring-bearer at a wedding.

Would he trot the ring out to the happy couple or would he swallow the sparkler whole? Would he pant happily during the I-do?s, or would he do something, um, disgraceful?

Silly questions, I know. But this snenario illustrates a huge societal change: Pets aren?t just for back yards any more. They can even be part of your wedding party.

To underscore that, Fetch got a press release from the folks at Camp Bow-Wow, the Boulder based pet services chain.

?With wedding season here, now is the time to finalize your guest list ? and decide whether or not you should include your furry friends in your wedding party,? a publicist wrote. ?To answer the increasing popularity of pet-friendly ceremonies, a variety of businesses, retailers and planners are now offering new products and services to satisfy the demands of pet-lovers everywhere.?

For instance, there is MyRegistry.com: ?As the perfect all-in-one resource to create personal, running wish lists, MyRegistry.com can help you gather the special items that your dog will need.?

Then there?s Buttercup?s PAW-tisserie: ?This New York-based bakery ships nationwide and specializes in freshly baked, all natural and healthy treats for dogs.?

And lastly, there?s Doggie Clothesline. ?If you?re looking for pet formal wear, Doggie Clothesline has a variety of dog tuxedos and dresses available, many of which are under $50.?

It?s no accident that pet businesses have recognized the shift in how humans and animals relate. This year, they are expected to ring cash registers for more than $50 billion.

And that ain?t all dog biscuits and kitty litter.

?Now, pets are treated like people, with doggie clothes, dog spas and gourmet food,? says Harold Herzog, a professor of anthrozoology at Western Carolina University. ?Some have become fashion accessories.?

So what has happened since the days and nights when wolves crept closer to the campfires of early man for scraps of food?

Dr. M.A. Crist, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explores that question in a new edition of Pet Talk, a regular feature distributed by the university.

The inclusion of pets in many non-traditional activities, such as family ceremonies, photos, trips and gatherings, drives part of the pet industry today, Crist says.

?Many of today?s pets are now considered part of the family and are treated as family members,? says Crist. ?For example, some clients have pet chickens that live in their houses. The chickens wear little pantaloons to catch their droppings in the house so that they do not make a mess.?

She adds: ?The human-animal bond has definitely become stronger and more apparent. Society is experiencing more legal issues with pets such as pets having guardians, becoming heirs to large family fortunes, or becoming disputed over in divorces. People are wanting to make sure their pets are provided for in the event of their deaths, causing the inception of companion animal centers that care for pets when their owners pass away or are no longer able to care for them.?

According to Crist, ?In the past, most dogs and cats were kept outside on the family farm or ranch. The dogs were sometimes used to help work the cattle or guard the sheep, and the cats were kept around to keep the mice or snake population under control. These working dogs and cats were usually fed table scraps and taken care of in passing when a veterinarian came out on a call to check a farm animal.?

As populations changed and urbanization began, dogs and cats started moving into the house, and the human-pet bond thus began to grow and strengthen, Crist adds. Additionally, the bond developed in food and farm animals as well.

?Youth began to get involved in FFA and 4-H programs in schools and became involved in raising and showing sheep, steers, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, and other food animals for competition,? explains Crist. ?Many of these youth enjoyed the companionship of the farm animals that they raised and showed, and then as adults they purchased farm animals to have simply as personal pets.?

As people and animals began living together, the bond between them became more emotional. Traditional uses of animals were questioned and modified to satisfy the want of companionship.

?Years before, food animals were raised simply for that- food- and did not have long lives,? asserts Crist. ?Today, some food animals are kept as pets and will live to be quite old.?

So there you have it.

Better start measuring Fido for that tux.

Pet Talks stories can be viewed on the Web at http://tamunews.tamu.edu
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Animal tracks - The Humane Society of Boulder Valley has received more than 60 homeless dogs and puppies from Tulsa via the PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin? program. The dogs will be spayed/neutered at Boulder Humane?s main shelter and about 20 dogs will be sent to stay at a new Boulder Humane/PetSmart Charities aoption center in Westminster, enabling the dogs to find new homes quickly ia the center. PetSmart Charities? Rescue Waggin? program saves pets lives by relocating adoptable dogs from overcrowded shelters to destination shelters where they are in demand.

Reach John Davidson at JeDavidson@denverpost.comJeDavidson@denverpost.com?>

Source: http://blogs.denverpost.com/fetch/2011/07/24/the-role-of-pets-in-weddings-shows-just-how-far-the-human-animal-bond-has-come/3630/

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