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Posted on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : noon

'What to Expect When No One's Expecting' addresses growing trend of lavishing love on pets instead of children

By Lorrie Shaw

These days, a trend is steadily taking shape: a drop in the number of children households are welcoming, and that's if couples are deciding to have any kids at all.

In his new book to be released today, one author states that there is a mania of sorts settling in instead — having pets.

“[E]ducated, middle-class people have all but stopped having babies,” asserts Jonathan V. Last, author of What to Expect When No One's Expecting.

“Pets have become fuzzy, low-maintenance replacements for children.”

It's true that more families are welcoming pets, and that may not be such an unsurprising thing. Plenty of those families have children, though and the assertion that pets are being used as a substitute for having offspring can for a lot of people be a bit far-fetched.

The tide is turning, certainly, when it comes to the attitudes about the way that pets are cared for, their enrichment and their medical care.

With doggie day cares cropping up, innovations in enrichment toys and activities, pet care options becoming more available, and making real strides in understanding canine behavior and subsequently better training for them, it's natural that pet owners are willing to spend more — Last notes that Americans spent $4.8 billion in 2010, in the midst of an economic downturn — on these things.

After all, we are becoming a kinder, gentler lot, aren't we?

He goes further and details other aspects of life with pets today, some of which I've written about: pet trusts and a bill submitted for consideration to allow pet owners to get tax breaks for pet-related expenses,

“At the micro level, the pet boom is … unsettling,” the author says, and calls it 'America's coming demographic disaster'.

How do you feel about the points that Last makes in the book?

"What to a Expect When No One's Expecting" hits the market today.

Read more from an article in The Weekly Standard by clicking here.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly.



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

I have not read this book, but I did read the review of it in the WSJ. I must respectfully disagree that it is a problem that fertility is dropping- indeed, I hope the trend continues and spreads more widely among all the peoples of the earth. Most problems the earth and the current human population on earth are experiencing are exacerbated by the enormous number of humans on the earth. Traffic, air and water pollution, resource depletion, hunger, violence, war, etc. are all made worse by too many people. Yes, there will be a temporary period (40 years or so) when the needs of aging baby boomers will place strains on relatively fewer young people following them - but after then the earth's human population can stabilize at a lower and more sustainable number.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

Love the pets, but we need new people too.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

As long as the "parents" adopt from a shelter, this might help the overpopulation problem..... for both species!

Sarah Rigg

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Without having actually read the book, just the article, it sounds like more boo-hooing about people who are "neglecting" their "duty" of having children. In my opinion, people who don't want kids shouldn't have them. Would you want to be the child of someone who never wanted to parent but felt they were "supposed to"? And as for pets outnumbering kids, that has to do with the fact that people are letting pets breed out of control, and there is just a huge number needing adoption. I think the fact that we're adopting pets in great numbers even during a recession shows great compassion for all life. My 2 centers.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

"'[E]ducated, middle-class people have all but stopped having babies,' asserts Jonathan V. Last, author of What to Expect When No One's Expecting." I doubt it.