Purina’s Pets In Society report reveals what the future holds for our furry friends
1. Pets will keep us human
While we’re slaves to our smartphones with technology advancing faster than ever before, it’s our pets who are going to help keep us human.
Gerd Leonhard, a leading futurologist and CEO of the Futures Agency spoke at the event about how technology has a place in our pet’s lives.
Fitness gadgets like PitPat give us data on their health and pet cams like Furbo which I tried this week with Daisy enable us to communicate and treat our pets when we’re away from home.
But while tech may rule our lives, our unwitting pets will keep us grounded.
Gerd said: “Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300.
“As the world becomes more technologically complex and artificial intelligence continues to evolve, we risk becoming disconnected from the people around us.
“Relationships (with pets), not data, are what make us human.”
2. Never let your kids choose your pet’s name!
Lewis Coghlin from Cats Protection told a heartwarming story of how as a four-year-old, he rescued his first cat and called it Christmas Party!
“It’s a lesson in never letting a child name a pet,” he said.
“Christmas Party played a significant role in the happiness I had myself as a child and I hope the love and affection I gave him helped him have a happy life too.”
Now a father himself, Lewis says his family cats Ash and Molly make his children’s life ‘full of joy and infinitely richer, just as Christmas Party did.’
He added: “We want to raise awareness of the joys of adopting a pet. People and pets are better together and rescuing an animal has a massive impact on our wellbeing and happiness too.”
Purina have been their partner for 30 years, feeding the 5,000 cats they have in their shelters, raising awareness of their work and promoting pet adoption.
Cats Protection rehome 43,000 animals each year but the number of abandoned cats is growing.
Their vision is for every cat to be treated with kindness and they ask cat lovers to consider a rescue.
3. Children can help prepare dogs for rehoming
We know the love children have for animals and Chantel Hazard, an expert in Dog Behaviour and Zootherapy, told how where she lives in France, rescue shelters partner with schools.
“They read stories to the dogs and cats and it helps pets become more social before they are adopted,” she explained.
“The children become more confident with them, they share special moments and learn to be responsible and kind to animals.”
Having a pet increases self esteem, makes them feel responsible and nine out of ten parents said they made their children happier.
She said: “It gives children the opportunity to experience unconditional love. A dog loves you and will never judge you.”
4. Woofs in the office help you work!
Germano Calvi from Publicis Communications in Italy told how he battled to make his office pet friendly after his own dog melted his heart.
Ten years ago, few firms would have believed having dogs scampering around would help productivity. Bring Your Dog To Work Day was a treat.
Now many tech and digital companies are run by millennials bringing more fun and less formality to the workplace and embracing pets as resident stress busters.
Germano said: “The dogs will solve most of the problems in the office with their presence as they relax people.
“Trying to convince employers that having a dog in the office will be fantastic is difficult but we are now working on data comparing productivity in an office with dogs and one without to demonstrate this.”
5. Overfeeding our pets isn’t helping them
Figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association show 63% of us believe our dog is a healthy weight yet worryingly, 45% of dogs and 40% of cat are overweight.
Dr Thomas Webb from the University of Sheffield puts this down to the ‘Ostrich problem,’ and spoke in support of Purina’s Healthy Love campaign.
He said: “People don’t want to confront the problem. It means they are admitting compromising their pet’s health.”
Once owners accept their dog has a problem, they should use the ‘if-when’ approach to improving their health.
Dr Webb said: “Plan what you will do to overcome obstacles, so if it’s raining, play with your dog inside to exercise them.
“As an owner of two dogs I sometimes don’t want to go out in the rain to walk them, but you know after half an hour, you will feel better and they will too.
“If a dog is a healthy weight, they have energy, they’re happy, they wag their tail more, it’s about quality of life, and Healthy Love is about giving your pet the best life you can.”
6. Nothing will ever replace our pets
As psychologist Honey Langcaster-James says: “No matter how life-like a robotic dog might seem, it can never replace the value of a real pet with a unique personality.
“Nor can you ever truly love or bond with a fake pet in a way that helps to develop empathy and compassion or teaches you the importance of caring for others.”
Calum Macrae, Regional Director for Purina UK and Ireland agrees. “Now more than ever the importance of pets in our lives is clear.
“We mustn’t let machines replace the incredible bond we’ve had with companion animals for more than 20,000 years.”