Jill, an English Setter, is a big part of Telegram reporter Barb Sweet's family. — Photo by Barb Sweet
Toronto — It’s a dog’s life, and it’s getting better all the time.
Nearly half of Canadian dog owners refer to themselves as their pet’s mom or dad, according to a recent poll.
And almost 20 per cent celebrate Rover’s birthday.
A Harris/Decima survey commissioned by Nestle Purina PetCare Canada suggests 90 per cent of Canadian dog owners consider their pet a member of the family.
Atlantic Canadians lead the pack at 94 per cent. Ontarians are a whisker behind at 92 per cent.
“Of course I consider my dog a member of the family,” says Gale Davy, who adopted her four-year-old mixed breed Tyson just over a month ago from the Humane Society. “He’s my son.”
Like 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed, Davy said she’s “mom” or “mommy” to Tyson. She will celebrate his birthday, just like she did with her previous dog who died at age 17 just before Christmas.
While Davy wouldn’t call Tyson a playmate, as some 48 per cent of Canadian dog-owners surveyed said they do, he does help the 48-year-old get her exercise.
“Without him, I think maybe I wouldn’t get out here as often,” she said at the snow-covered off-leash dog park at Kew Gardens along the waterfront.
Helen Redcliffe, 33, said her shepherd-collie mix Seamus is definitely part of the family.
Seamus turned one on Dec. 14.
“He gets a birthday just like everyone else,” said Redcliffe. “He got some toys and he got some nice treats for his dinner.”
Some dog owners even splurge for a doggie birthday cake.
Jackie Krovblit, owner of Big Dog Bakery, sells 15 to 30 birthday cakes for dogs each month, depending on the season. They range in price from $7.99 for a basic cake to $35 for a more customized one. Flavours include peanut butter bliss, bananarama and liver delight.
A dog’s first birthday is the most popular, said Krovblit, but owners also buy for older dogs. And it’s not just birthday cakes. The bakery has made bar mitzvah and even wedding cakes for dogs.
Man’s best friend is worth it, according to Malak Tabbara.
“Not only do we treat them as a member of the family, we’re very careful with them,” said the owner of 10-year-old cocker spaniel Angie. “We go the extra mile for them and we’re happy to do it and spend the cash on it.”
The poll was conducted between Jan. 13 and 17. It surveyed 1,221 adults who own or have owned a dog. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.