Petco, Animals, And The Humans Who Control Everything

1665 words - 7 pages

The other day I was sitting with a friend of mine in a class, all of a sudden she turns to me saying, "You got to see this." Expecting to be handed a phone to read some text or watch a video to my surprise she hands me a copy of National Geographic turned to an article about the domestication of foxes. "Borrow it from me, I know you're into animal stuff, you got to read it." Only my friends would do this, but this article is a really great starting point to discussing pets. I think it is important to explain how I happened upon the article, because I doubt I would have gotten passed an article about wild foxes, or wild animals for that matter. The fact that they were able to breed foxes specifically to be pets for humans was the reason of interest, as her later comment that, "I totally want one, they are so adorable" shows . Pets are our strongest connection to the natural world; they are the part of nature we interact with on a day-to-day basis. Pet stores, like Petco which I visited, do a lot to mediate and influence manner in which relationships between people and their pets' form. Pets have a distinct role in people's lives as children, best friends, and members of the family which not only impact how the pet is treat it also impacts how other animals are seen and ranked in their importance towards humans.
At Petco one of the first things I came across was the Dog Bar, a table set up very similar to children's candy stores where one is changed by the pound for the candy put into the bag, but these weren't candy these were dog treats. The set up of the Dog Bar shows the store's desire for the pet to be seen as a child, which is a concept that has existed in American thought since the early 19th century. The Dog Bar is a table shaped like a dog bone with round bins all filled with treats such as sandwich yellow crème cookie, natural low-fat pretzels, cheeseburger bites, mini ginger bear shaped treats, biscotti with cranberries and pumpkin seeds, oatmeal flavored cookies, and many others. These treats though don't sound like dog food they sound like the sorts of things that we would buy for a person, which is what Petco wants to have you think about. This is even clearer when you read the sign on the table saying, "Made with the highest quality, natural, or human grade ingredients." Relating the kind of food you eat to the food you want your dog to eat reinforces the idea of the pet as a member of the family. Though Petco is promoting this concept it did not invent this concept, people have thought of their pets in this way since about the end of the 19th century. As Grier says, "some felt as much affection for their animals as any doting owner today and many of the habits of modern pet owners were well established by the last nineteenth century." The idea of the pet as a member of the family harkens back to the early 19th century when the family was defined as all the people who lived together under the patriarch, including relatives,...

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