For 60 years, the baby-boom generation has been the engine driving the U.S. economy. Advertisers and marketers have targeted this enormous demographic through every phase of life: from infancy to childhood to early adulthood to middle age and now, finally, to senior citizenship.
A fascinating article in today’s New York Times, “Pets of the Golden Years,” outlines some of the “evolving attitudes and changing family structures that are reshaping the relationship between retirees and their animal companions.” It’s a safe bet that the multi-billion-dollar pet industry is tracking these cultural changes to better serve the economically powerful senior-boomer age group.
Among the findings reported in J. Peder Zane’s story:
• Today’s seniors are demanding that senior-living communities be more pet friendly. Zane reports that as recently as 2005, very few such communities accepted pets. It’s estimated that 40 percent of them now welcome pets.
• As Americans are having fewer children, their attachment to pets is deepening. A financial planner interviewed for the story says, “I have noticed that the retirement dream for many clients is still drinking a pina colada on the beach, but now they see a Lab next to them.” As a result, he now includes pet budget lines in his financial plans for retirees.
• As boomers age, expect small dog breeds to increase in popularity. Zane quotes the American Kennel Club as saying that seniors who live in apartments, or who enjoy traveling, appreciate the compactness and portability of the smaller breeds. Small dogs are also much less likely, the AKC says, to accidently bowl over or drag down their owners—a serious concern for elderly dog lovers.
• Aging boomers on the go are demanding more dog-friendly RV parks and campgrounds in their travels around the country. Many such facilities are now investing in agility courses, dog parks, and doggy washing stations. “Just having a dog run is no longer enough,” one industry source is quoted as saying.
In other words: What boomers want, boomers get. And, increasingly, the Times says, what they want is to enjoy their sunset years to fullest, with a wag-tailed, wet-nosed companion by their side.
Do you have questions or need help with your dog’s training or behavior? Visit the GoodDog Helpline
And since even old dogs can learn new tricks, why not give the Canine Good Citizen program a try?