Who is that cute girl in the picture? My mom. The photo is over ninety years old. In this picture, Mom reminds me of that little girl with freckles in the old movie clips of the “Little Rascals”, the one who made funny faces and always wore a hat.
Striking this pose with one of her cats and Bobbie, the smartest of all border collies according to Mom, this picture shows her love for her 4-legged friends. Can you imagine life in 1925? There wasn’t a bit of Hollywood glamour found in rural living where Mom was raised. Even though she made friends with the dog Bobbie and her many cats, animals in those days were considered necessities rather than companions.
Dogs helped hunt, watched over the livestock and protected the homestead. Cats were on duty to keep the rodent population down in and around the barn. Usually dogs and cats lived outside and slept in the barn. They were seldom allowed inside the house. Their diets were also a lot different from today's pets that have a choice of gourmet meals made especially for them by pet food companies. Rural pets in the old days ate table scraps and an occasional squirrel or rabbit. It wasn't until many years later that pet food evolved into a huge business.
Today, pet owners cater to their dogs and cats. For example, television and film star, Dick Van Patten originated Natural Balance® food for dogs and had this to say in a magazine ad about the special formula. “As a pet parent, I believe it’s important to have food I can trust without a doubt. That’s why Steve and his team test every single batch of Natural Balance® before it gets to your dog’s bowl.”
I couldn't help but wonder if Steve pictured in the ad is Dick Van Patten’s son. Pets are definitely a family affair. Actually, people have evolved, whereas pets remain the same. In recent times we brought them indoors and welcomed them to the family. Some kids and parents take their dogs everywhere—shopping, to weddings, picnics, school events and more. Today's dogs and cats are regular members of the family and Hollywood helped bring about this change.
In popular movies, pets were always part of the family. Look how Lassie lived inside the house with the family. Rin-Tin-Tin lived and worked right alongside the soldiers. In 1957, Walt Disney brought to the movie screen, the epic and bittersweet movie “Old Yeller”. This movie was about a dog raised in pioneer America. While probably not the producer’s intention, I found that this film brought about awareness in the importance of rabies inoculation and neutering or spaying pets. Old Yeller secretly sired one litter of pups with the neighbor’s dog. Because they were discovered after his heartbreaking death, these pups made a happy, welcomed scene! This wonderful dog’s legacy would live on!
It was tinsel town that placed our true feelings up onto the screen. Filmmakers displayed our love of pets on the screen as the real-deal in our lives, not just something of make-believe! No longer were they a mere ‘necessity’ to keep the farm going, dogs and cats were now considered an important asset to almost every household.
So, one might thank Hollywood for giving our pets the invitation to live along side us– the way they should have been from the beginning. My mom knew – too bad my grandparents (and others like them) just didn’t get the picture!