For the past couple of weeks, I had been discussing Pawdel with entrepreneurs and business leaders as part of my business networking activity. None of these intelligent and successful professionals are from my industry — pet care. I even talked to men and women who openly admitted they’re not fond of pets. Some even have cynophobia, a fear of dogs. But not all of them don’t have pets. A handful of them also owns a dog or a cat, pure-bred and not. But none of them could understand, at least initially, why I founded Pawdel, let alone why such businesses exist!
Not all pet owners are pet lovers. Even so, not all pet lovers are pet parents.
Over the last two and a half years since I founded Pawdel as a home-based e-commerce business, I mostly built it behind a computer. With no background, network, or experience in the pet-care industry, I relied heavily on the hyper-targeting power of digital marketing to connect Pawdel with pet parents all over the country and the rest of the world. I seldomly had a chance encounter with a non-pet lover. When I did, it would always be a limited encounter on matters outside of Pawdel. Our social life over a year into the pandemic, professionally and personally, slowly isolated me further in a bubble. I somehow forgot treating pets as a baby was once considered an eccentric behavior not too long ago. But this experience I had over the past couple of weeks was a reality check. Not all pet owners are pet lovers. Even so, not all pet lovers are pet parents.
What is a pet parent you may ask? Many pet owners own a dog, or bantay, as we fondly call them because they merely guard a property. Many pet owners own a cat, or ming-ming, as people would generically call them because they’re more efficient than any sophisticated pest-control companies in keeping rodents away. Pet lovers on the other hand may or may not own a pet, but nevertheless gets a dopamine flush at every sight of a cute fluffy dog or cat. This kind of love, particularly for non-pet owners, is superficial. It’s a kind of love that is fleeting, especially when it starts to get messy, figuratively or literally. Pet lovers who own a pet undoubtedly love their dog or cat.
But there are several degrees of love. So, no, I’m not talking about that kind of pet love. I’m talking about the kind of love that is close to my favorite analogy — to a love of a parent. Before I go deeper into defining pet parents, I want to be clear that I’m not generalizing or stereotyping pet owners or pet lovers. I’m only defining it as such to give context and a more clear understanding of what I would call a pet parent. I will never forget what my mother once told me, and I heard this too from many a mother to their child, that even their own child will never understand the pain they feel when their son or daughter is in hardships, nor will they ever understand their joy when they are triumphant in their lives. True to my mother’s word, I never understood it until I became a parent myself — a parent to an Aspin, 3 Chihuahuas, and a Shih Tzu.
Giving it all for my dog more than what I have
So what makes a pet parent different from a pet lover? Don’t they both love their pets just the same? I thought they were until I met a business contact in the pet care industry. This man owns a mid-size pet supplies business. We were having a meeting one evening when the cost of veterinary care was brought up in the conversation. So I shared my story of how much I went through during the confinement of Patchi after he was diagnosed with late-stage ehrlichiosis. Patchi, by the way, is the paw-founder of Pawdel along with Robby and Kiwi. I stayed beside Patchi every day of his confinement. I only went home to sleep and mostly stayed in the clinic 5 to 6 hours a day. Never missed a day. One time, I was out of town 4 hours away when I pleaded with the clinic to wait for me past 9 pm just so Patchi can see me that day because I didn’t want to let a day go by without him seeing me. If that would give Patchi even the slightest chance of improving his recovery, I did it.
It had taken 2 weeks of confinement before the veterinarian deemed it safer to bring him home for home-care. She was probably aware that my veterinary bills had already been mounting. After 3 weeks of trying to stabilize his condition, Patchi took his last breath in my and Rasmia’s arms. I was sobbing like a kid early in the morning at 3 am. In fact, I just cried again after writing these last few sentences trying to recollect the memories.
…I, on the other hand, whose full-time business Pawdel at the time, was hardly making a profit in its first 11 months, would be willing to pay the same amount twice over if it meant bringing Patchi back to life.
I told this man that I ended up paying over Php 80,000.00 in veterinary bills in a span of one month. I lost Patchi and the two puppies of Kiwi in the same month. What he remarked after I had narrated my story disconcerted me, “I love my dogs too, Arrian. I have many of them. But I wouldn’t pay the amount you paid for my own dogs if it had happened to me.”
Pet lovers like him, as is expected, generally regard dogs as they are… mere animals, a lower being, a 2nd class member of the family.
It disconcerted me because here I was talking to a person who was making a fortune out of dogs and cats, yet he wouldn’t give up a fraction of that fortune for his own dogs. While I, on the other hand, whose full-time business Pawdel at the time, was hardly making a profit in its first 11 months, would be willing to pay the same amount twice over if it meant bringing Patchi back to life. I wondered if this man would say the same thing had it been his children we were talking about? I doubt! But I wouldn’t judge him. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with where he stands. Pet lovers like him, as is expected, generally regard dogs as they are… mere animals, a lower being, a 2nd class member of the family. Since then I realized my love for my dogs is different. I am a different pet lover. More so I am a different person in this society that we live in. But how different?
I once regarded pet parenting as an odd and eccentric behavior
At this point, I may have already proven my point that I know what exactly feels like to be a pet parent. But I also know how people feel towards pet-parents like me. You see, I was once on the other side of the fence. I wasn’t born a pet parent. But I’m a pet lover my whole life.
I grew up with dogs and cats in the household for as far back as my memory can recall. So the love has always been there. Then I moved out at age 21 and lived in an apartment that disallowed pets. I lived 4 years without a pet until we later rescued Robby on New Year’s eve of 2015.
It didn’t immediately occur to me that Lex was a dog because Hensyl spoke of Lex, and her other dog, Lana, as if they were a person. After I found this out, all of a sudden, Hensyl’s behavior was rather odd and eccentric to my standards of pet care.
It was 2012 and I was working for a Swiss pharmaceutical company. I had a colleague whose name is Hensyl. She was unmarried but not necessarily lonely. Hensyl and I weren’t the closest of friends. But I knew she had a Lex in her life. I would hear from my colleagues that she had to leave early because Lex was home alone. When we were having our meeting she would say she had to make it quick because Lex was waiting outside. That’s perfectly understandable. Not until I found out later that Lex was a dog! It didn’t immediately occur to me that Lex was a dog because Hensyl spoke of Lex, and her other dog, Lana, as if they were a person. After I found this out, all of a sudden, Hensyl’s behavior was rather odd and eccentric to my standards of pet care.
Hensyl wasn’t wealthy, as we were both a corporate slave, but pet grooming, all-natural food and treats, pet strollers, and all the niceties of pet care were a luxury in 2012. Nowadays, we see pet grooming salons in every corner of the Metro and pets are increasingly welcome in every major commercial establishment in the country. The humanized lifestyle of pets is no longer exclusive to the rich and famous. It’s a generational trend that is already happening all around the world. Hensyl was years ahead of many pet lovers like myself. She may have already forgotten who I am and what I do in Pawdel. But I will never forget Hensyl. That may explain why she still hasn’t purchased a single item from us. ✌️ I think it’s my karma for condescending her for being what I call now a pet parent. Hensyl, Lex, and Lana were the butt of jokes in the group. Regrettably, it was cute-shaming.
I was a pet lover and a reluctant pet owner
Robby was my first dog as the primary caregiver. The responsibility is leaps and bounds different compared with before wherein you just pat their head, play with them and leave the rest of the responsibility to your mother. I certainly believe raising Robby advanced my maturity, patience, and discipline by several years. That responsibility translated my love for them as if my dogs are my children.
Between 2011 and 2015, I would jump at every opportunity to go for a quick vacation out of town on a long weekend. When I finished early from work, I would grab a bottle of beer or whiskey with my associates and come home late. My girlfriend and I would go to the mall every weekend to pass time. I enjoyed the break from having a dog and cat my whole life.
Rasmia and I adopted Robby on her insistence. I was reluctant to adopt him because our apartment in Fort Bonifacio strictly disallowed pets. It was also a small apartment. And from my own experience of having Aspins in a small house all my life, I knew the shedding would be the worst part. But Rasmia left for overseas work 3 months after adopting Robby. We had been living together since 2013. As if the psycho-emotional challenges of suddenly being in a long-distance relationship were not enough, the responsibility of both house chores and Robby were unbearable. I had to bathe him every Sunday. He would free himself from his leash and I’d run after him all over the neighborhood. But Robby didn’t give me a hard time. He helped me overcome loneliness and a job loss. He helped me navigate the most critical decisions in my career.
Any Aspin pet parent would know what I’m talking about. The condescending looks and smiles they would give show they couldn’t understand why we would give so much for an unbred dog that is valued so little.
Robby grew big enough for my landlord to notice his disturbance. So he gave me an ultimatum. Give him up or move out. Where else would I bring Robby? Leave him behind back in the streets? I was a pet lover and a reluctant dog owner but I chose to be a pet parent. It was my first time giving my all for a dog. I had to get a bigger 3-bedroom house that was mortgaged from a bank. I didn’t need it, but I wanted it to keep Robby, and later on Patchi. Moving to a bigger pet-friendly apartment in Taguig was impractical. Rasmia and I would have to pay over twice the lease of the previous one without ever owning it. The logical choice was to build our home and our family (fur-family included) in Cavite where I invested in a residential lot earlier in my career. I told myself I never want to hear again that my dogs are unwanted, especially my Aspin. Robby being kicked out was the first time I felt the pain of a parent. Rasmia and I would proudly talk about him with our friends. Not everyone was fascinated with an unwanted Aspin. Any Aspin pet parent would know what I’m talking about. The condescending looks and smiles they would give show they couldn’t understand why we would give so much for an unbred dog that is valued so little.
Pet parents love their dogs and cats more than their close circle of friends
Becoming a pet parent wasn’t an overnight transformation. It was a long psychological and emotional process. As I matured deeper into my adulthood, the weekend basketball games turned into Sunday bath times for Robby and Patchi. I traded the fun night out for dinner with the two furboys. Morning workouts became pee and poo time with my dogs. These routines became our bonding moments. My responsibility with them consumed me.
They licked my tears when I closed my first business. They happily and proudly wore my first iterations of the AlphaCollar even when everyone else thought it wasn’t as beautiful as I initially believed it to be.
These responsibilities slowly isolated me from my friends and colleagues who still had enough time to spare for some leisure or extra work. Robby and Patchi were now my confidants when I had quarrels with Rasmia, when I was successful in my first business, and they were consulted when I was designing the interior and exterior of our brand new house. Everything had to go well with Robby and Patchi. The furnitures, pavement, and the garden (where they can freely do their nasty business). Robby, Patchi, and later on Kiwi were also witnesses to my struggles. They stared back at me when I was staring blankly when I had had a quarter-life crisis dragging my feet to work. They licked my tears when I closed my first business. They happily and proudly wore my first iterations of the AlphaCollar even when everyone else thought it wasn’t as beautiful as I initially believed it to be. They jumped on me whenever I happily danced after occasionally receiving online orders that were several days in between. Patchi favored sitting on my lap and leaning on the steering wheel when I drove them in the car. But he was still enjoying the ride of a public bus after I had given up my car, unable to pay anymore the mortgage. As long as he’s seated on my lap and could see throughout the window, he was content with it.
And for these experiences together I grew closer to my dogs than my own circle of friends. In fact, I am now closer to them than my immediate family. They knew everything I went through – the triumphs and defeats of life – while my biological family didn’t. My dogs still loved me regardless if I served them leftover food or premium dog food. Neither did they judge me if I was penniless or thriving. They couldn’t care less if we took the tricycle or drove an SUV, as long as we all arrive together to wherever it leads us. They love me unconditionally and I love them back for being the greatest companion during these last 6 years of my life. Because of these, mas mahal ko na sila kesa sa mga kaibigan ko [I love them more than my friends]. They say what connects a mother to a child is the 9 months she bore them through her umbilical cord. And the years that followed to raise that child. A couple of years of raising Robby and the rest of my dogs like my own children is what connects me to them like a parent. To me, they are not lesser beings. Nor they are a 2nd class member of the family. They too are my loved ones, my immediate family. They are my equal companions.
#LoveYourPawdel opens a new lifestyle to a whole new generation of PawParents
I was once guilty of cute-shaming Hensyl. It’s a vindication to all pet parents like Hensyl that Pawdel leads a new humanized lifestyle for pets. A humanized pet companion deserves a humanized lifestyle. My team and I have personally read all 1,135 entries of pet parents’ #LoveYourPawdel stories in the Philippines’ Next Top Pawdel. While we only have 6 Next Top Pawdels of the month so far, it was a relief to know there are so many more people out there like me and Hensyl. It’s hard to pick a winner out of hundreds every month. I wish we could feature them all to inspire more pet owners out there who have a subdued humanized relationship with their pets waiting to be nurtured.
The real-life pet-human relationships we share and nurture at Pawdel reassure pet parents that it is ok to be different; that being different is beautiful, to love your pawdel like one of your own.
Their stories only inspire us to strive harder in nurturing their relationship with their pets. Where they can connect with us and find comfort in knowing there are more pet parents out there like us. They are the next generation of hope to raise the general public’s perception of pets from mere animals [hayop lang ‘yan] to our equal companions [parang anak ko na ang mga ‘yan].
The real-life pet-human relationships we share and nurture at Pawdel reassure pet parents that it is ok to be different; that being different is beautiful, to love your pawdel like one of your own.
Great read! Thank you for this. It’s comforting to know you are not alone and someone had experienced the same things as you did. I appreciate like-minded pet parent like you as I am a proud single mom of puspins with a story like yours. God bless your heart and more power to your business!
Hi Kamille! Thank you. We’ve been receiving quite a lot of responses telling us that they can relate to this narrative. Let’s stay connected and I look forward to building this community of pet parents with you and your puspins.
My husband and I can relate a lot to this especially the part about not meeting friends as often because you can’t just leave your furbaby! (And also because you now love your pets more than you love your friends which is only rational.) I’m glad I’m not the only one!
Thank you for sharing your own experience! I’m glad to know this write-up connects all of the PetParents out there.
Awesome read! I can really relate to your narrative being a furmom of 7 furkids. I have experienced the same things as you being a pet parent. I love my babies and some does not really understand along with discrimination. More power to your business and to your family. God bless!
I’m so touched of this story as I can relate. I also grew up with pets in our household, I already knew back then that I’m a pet lover. I moved out and became independent when I was 20. I remembered 3 years ago, I lived in an apartment and had neighbor who’s also a pet lover, hers was a purebred shih tzu who loves to go in front of my door every morning to say hi.
One day, an officemate asked me if I wanted to adopt a dog, I wasn’t sure if I was ready at that time so I answered “I’ll think about it”. After a few days, I decided to say yes. I named him Cookie and brought him home. He was a very playful puppy and it was never easy at first because he was my very first owned pet.
After few weeks, the landlord in my apartment said that my Cookie isn’t allowed in the apartment, “hindi pwede yung ganyang aso” he said and those words broke my heart, he didn’t give me a time and he didn’t ask me to leave tho.. but as soon as I heard him say that my Cookie isn’t allowed there, I looked for a different apartment. Luckily, I was able to find a pet friendly apartment.
Now, I’m pushing to buy my own house as I never wanted to feel again that my dogs are unwanted. Yes, dogs. I now have 4 furbabies after moving into a pet friendly apartment. ❤️
Looks like you have the same predicament as I had several years ago. I have no doubt that your golden heart for your dogs will land you your dream home where all your 4 furbabies can run freely all day. It’s the greatest feeling to see them enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I wish you and the 4 babies good health and more wealth!
Hi. I was crying while reading the article. I have two fur babies named Alee and Toby. I can still remember the day Alee was offered to me for adoption, I was hesitant since she was already 5 years old then. After some thoughts, I finally agreed and she arrived at our home on exactly the day of my birthday. From that day I was reborn, lagi ko ngang sinasabi sa asawa ko, “I never thought I am capable na magmahal ng ganito katindi”
Nung dumating si Alee she was sad, she did not want to play, she would neither eat nor drink naisip ko pa nga “ano ba naman tong aso na to, depressed na nga ako, tapos mas malungkot pa sa akin”. It became my goal na pasayahin sya. At first, I did that to entertain myself and to feel na may purpose ako. Pero I don’t know what power she has, we both healed. Until one day, I just felt na wala na yung void sa puso ko.
Just when I thought na okay na ang lahat, she started to become weak. She would vomit and would have seizure episodes. After visiting several clinics in our City, we found out that she had a liver disease. After some medications, and just when she was starting to regain her strength she then again diagnosed with erlichia and DMVD. As if these were not unbearable enough for her, she was also diagnosed with pyometra and had to undergo an emergency surgery.
I was a struggling law student back then, and nagpapagawa kami ng bahay so financially wala talaga kaming halos na maibigay. Pero hindi ko hinayaan na mawala sya nang hindi kami lalaban. Mabuti na lang nakahanap kami ng magaling at mabait na vet. She is now healed and happy. She will be celebrating her birthday next month. Yey!
Thank you for putting the feelings of pawrents into wonderful words! May this write-up reach more people so shaming (even the cute level) pawrents would end.
We may not have bear them in our womb but our furbabies are amazing creatures who deserve and show us that are our equals. They, regardless of breed, deserve our time and love.
All the best to your business and good health to you and your furbabies!
As a crestfallen furmom who recently lost an 8-year old furbaby, this blog article left me in tears. Blue, a chow chow is also a child to me and my husband, not just a pet. Just like you, we love him more than immediate families and friends and we spend time with him more. When he crossed the rainbow bridge, being our only child, we felt he deserved a dignified send off. So we had him aquamated (instead of cremated) and had a proper viewing as part of the package of the pet memorial service. A lot of people frowned at this idea, and some were even offended at the thought of ‘humanizing’ a pet like a human child. But as what I have said in my facebook post in the breed club where I am a member of, Blue taught us more about humanity than any other human did, and for that, he was and will always be, my favorite person.
Keep inspiring pet parents like us and here’s wishing more power to all your endeavors.
….my furbabies are my treasures…they are my wealth not in monetary terms but the source of my inspirations…i felt the real essence of a parent just because of this furbabies…luv reading this article…
Well! This was the main reason why we had to put it out here. To let it out for the world see of pet parents’ subdued relationship with their dogs and cats. Thank you for validating it with your own thoughts.
Thank you for this wonderful story ❤️ Im very touched because I k ow the feeling for being a mother of my 8 dogs. My life and my everything ❤️
We’re glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. =)
I was able to relate with your experiences. I have a 5-year-old Chow Chow who I treat as my own son. He also dealt with erlichiosis on his second year of existence and I did not regret paying a big amount of money for his survival. I even had to loan money for that. A big part of my salary would be allocated for Baldur’s food and other needs. I would even sacrifice going on vacation for him. If i would be on a vacation, I would always look for a pet-friendly beach or hotel so I may bring him. He is a big part of my life including all the fun and not so fun part. I don’t care if people would say that he is only a dog because for me I will always see and treat him as my son. I would always say to him “wherever I go, you go” and that I would take care of him even if he grows old.