Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dog-ography in "Welcome to Dogtown, aka Austin, Texas"

A Facebook friend just posted the most amazing article on my wall, entitled "Welcome to Dogtown, aka Austin, Texas." It is literally one of the greatest articles for me to read, considering my love of dogs AND demography, the combination of which I just referred to as "dog-ography."

I have subtly hinted at my interest in urban and community issues including gentrification, and my personal interest in Austin's dog culture has fueled a professional curiosity as to how Austin's changes as a city are connected to it's relationship with Man's/Woman's Best Friend. Or child, as the article notes....because after all, I am a Dog Mom.

According to this article, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that only one-third of all dog owners view their dogs as pets. According to this study (unfortunately the year was not reported) the vast majority of people have a Dog Mom/Dad relationship to their dogs, which I think is very cool.

The article cites so many amazing statistics, it is difficult to know where to begin. For starters, Texas actually boasts the highest population of dogs out of any state--about 7.2 million. There is no accurate statistic for the number of dogs in Austin, but when it comes to dog services, we dominate even national rankings. We have 12 off-leash parks (more than any Texas city, and I STILL don't think its enough,) 40 doggy day cares, and roughly 200 dog-friendly restaurants!!! (I better get to eating!) Other unique services, such as dog bakeries and birthday party venues are mentioned. Zoom Room Austin is one location that I know offers birthday parties. While it may seem extravagant to have a full-blown party for a know I'd do it if I had the money.

And there it is! The kicker: Money. If there's one thing I've noticed about the majority of Dog Moms, it's that they are richer than me. The article cites that dog ownership is linked to higher income. One controversy that I've been meaning to address on this blog is cheap vs. expensive dog food, but I haven't gotten brave enough because I'm embarrassed to talk about it. It's one of those things that can make you feel very guilty if you aren't providing your dog with the best, most expensive food. But that's a post for another time.

I could go on and on about this article, but you should probably just go read it for yourself. One thing I found interesting is that most Dog Moms actually are single women, and that ownership dogs by single women has increased by 25% since 2006. 

This last quote I found to be particularly interesting about the Dog Mom effect:

"Studies have shown that a dog’s gaze stimulates the release of oxytocin in humans, the calming hormone that promotes bonding. It would stand to reason that if women are starting families later, they may feel the need to have that nurturing relationship,”

Ta-da! Scientific evidence that we are not "psychologically deranged," as some might believe us to be.

Some cuteness for you from an excellent "Dogtown" event, Dogtoberfest

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