Pet-ownership is booming across the world

Pet-ownership is booming(ˈbo͞omiNG) across the world

It seems not to be doing the owners as much good as they think

From The Economist(əˈkänəməst)

Martin(ˈmärtn) salomón(säləmən) has brought(brôt) his dog, Manolo(mənōlō), to the “canine(ˈkāˌnīn) area(ˈe(ə)rēə)” of a public park in Condesa(kənˈdisə), a wealthy(ˈwelTHē) district(ˈdistrikt) of Mexico(ˈmeksəkō, ˈmāhēkō) City. As he watches the happy, free-running animals, he reflects on how dogs’ lives have changed. Mr Salomón, who was born in the northern(ˈnôrT͟Hərn) state of Sonora(səˈnôrə), recalls that his grandmother had two dogs—a black one called Negro(ˈnēgrō) and a white one called Güero(gwārō), meaning pale(pāl). They were seldom(ˈseldəm) allowed in the house. And today? Recently he attended(əˈtend) a birthday party for a friend’s dog, with a cake, candles(ˈkandl) and a party hat(hat) for the pooch(po͞oCH).

In South Korea(kəˈrēə), some people who keep cats refer(rəˈfər) to themselves not as “owners” or even “parents”—a more condescending(ˌkändəˈsendiNG) term that appeared in America in the 1990s and has spread(spred). Instead they are “butlers(ˈbətlər)”. Some take their feline(ˈfēˌlīn) masters to a cat hotel in the Gangnam district of Seoul(sōl). It resembles(rəˈzembəl) a beauty studio(ˈst(y)o͞odēˌō), with plump(pləmp) cushions(ˈko͝oSHən) and pastel(paˈstel) colours(ˈkələr). The rooms and suites, costing $35-50 for a day, are equipped(əˈkwip) with ridges(rij) and tunnels(ˈtənl) for the cats to play in, as well as cameras and microphones(ˈmīkrəˌfōn). “It’s so the cats can hear their butlers’ voices,” explains the owner, Cho Hanna.

Keeping pets is hardly novel(ˈnävəl); nor is pampering(ˈpampər) them. Archaeologists(ˌärkēˈäləjəst) have discovered graves(gräv,ˈgrāvz) from more than 10,000 years ago containing the skeletons(ˈskelitn) of humans and dogs. Some of the dogs suffered from diseases(dəˈzēz), and were presumably(prəˈz(y)o͞oməblē) cared for by their owners. Eighteenth-century portraits(ˈpôrtrət, ˈpôrˌtrāt) are full of well-groomed(gro͝om,gro͞om) animals. But never have so many people kept pets, nor have they fawned(fän,fôn) over them as much as they do now. For better or worse, an almost global pet culture is emerging(əˈmərj).