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"It's just a dog!"

Not everyone shares my love of dogs. To some people, "It's just a dog!"

But if we look at the results of this just released survey of 1,250 pet owners across the U.S. and Canada we can understand how much pets mean to many people these days.

The data reveals significant differences in how much focus respondents put into the relationships with their pets based on the age, gender and income bracket of the pet owner. Here's the data on millennials:

  • 12 percent of millennials have ended a romantic relationship because of their pet.

  • 40 percent of millennials have moved into a new home, condo or apartment in order to live in a more pet-friendly environment.

  • 43 percent of millennials refer to their pet as their “fur baby” while only 20 percent of baby boomers use the same reference. Pet owners who refer to their pets as “fur babies” are more likely than the average owner to allow their pet on their bed (57 percent).

  • 13 percent of millennials cook food specifically for their pet every day, while two-thirds (67 percent) of millennials have indicated that they will take the time to cook meals specifically for their pet on occasion.

  • 30 percent of millennials choose the restaurants or bars they frequent based on the ability to bring their pets.

  • 5 percent of millennials choose to permanently tattoo their body with the love of their life … their pet.

The aim of this study was to take a comprehensive look at how pet owners express their relationship with their cats and dogs and the results clearly show how many pet owners today are placing huge emphasis on the comfort, health, and well-being of their dogs and cats. Pet lovers rely on the comfort, companionship, and love that pets provide to ground us and give our lives meaning and purpose. While we express our relationships with our pets differently, the data is clear that many people consider them part of the family now more than ever.

To me, they're not "just a dog." They are beautiful creatures of wonder and awe, whose lives I value as much as humans--they give so much and make our lives richer simply by their presence.

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