It seems to me that we do things MUCH differently with pets than we used to, back when I was a kid... I don't know if it was different all around, or it was just different for me because I was out in the country, surrounded by farm families...
1. Vaccinations - I do not remember having as many vaccinations for our animals. Sure, there were shots for rabies and distemper, but I don't remember anything for parvo, kennel cough, and I certainly don't remember ever giving our dogs heartworm preventative every month
Of course the way that we do it now is MUCH better. Heart worm preventative is an awesome thing, since I've now read blogs that describe what happens when a dog gets heartworms. So much better to keep it from happening altogether! Fortunately for all concerned, our childhood dogs never got them.
2. Vet trips - We simply did not take an animal to the vet unless it was an absolute necessity, and sometimes not even then. I can remember my brother's dog getting hit by a car. We found her in the ditch, and brought her home and carried her to my brother's room to sleep through the night. I know that none of us were entirely certain that she would survive. Now, I would not hesitate to take her to the all night emergency vet. Then... the all night emergency vet was 60 miles away, and no doubt was an expense that we couldn't afford at that time. She got better, being a hardy little thing, but that was all due to God and nature, and her devotion to my brother, and not due to any medical attention.
3. We kept that cats outside, and did not let them in. No matter that we generally had one a year disappear, probably due to being eaten by coyotes. That's just the way that things were done out there in the country; cats lived fast and died young. I was always saddened when one disappeared, but I didn't grieve deeply over it.
Contrast that with the way that I am with my cats NOW. They never ever go outside, since we're in a busy neighborhood. If one of them disappeared, I would spare no expense or effort in trying to find her (or him) and would be devastated if one was lost forever.
4. Dogs were allowed to roam. Mostly this was because we were seriously out in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road that was off of a gravel road. It's not like it was a common occurrence for us to have enough traffic to risk them getting hit by a car (ignoring the fact that it did happen once, as mentioned above.) Even my Pekingese was allowed to roam outside all day without supervision (though if we left the house, I insisted that he be put inside.) The dogs were happy with this, though it wasn't without some danger to them. I would frequently look outside and spy my Peke out in the horse pasture, snuffling in the ground in between two half-ton horses. And after I'd gone off to college, my Peke died because a neighbor's much larger dog came up into our yard and killed him...
Now, Argos is never left outside to roam. Some of that is because I'm in the city, but he will never be left unattended at all, even after we get our fence (two more weeks and counting.) Maybe less freedom for him, but it will certainly contribute to his longevity.
5. Ways of dealing with nuisance animals. I remember, after we first moved to the country when I was eleven years old, an old farmer looking at my Pekingese and nodding thoughtfully. "You know," he told me, "There's a danger when dogs start runnin' in packs. They get MEAN when they run in packs, and they do bad things. They do bad things like chasing cattle and eating people's chickens." He nodded sagely, as if he'd gotten Wicket's measure. "You know how we deal with dogs that start packin' up?" I shook my head, no doubt wide-eyed. "We shoot em'," he said. "So you watch out for your dog. Don't let em' run in packs."
While I'm fairly certain that there was NEVER any danger of Wicket the Pekingese joining up with a wild biker gang of half-feral dogs, the farmer was not lying. Dogs that interfered with a farmer's animals were shot. Oh, the farmer MIGHT call the owners the first time it happened, if he knew who the dog belonged to. But that kind of behavior wasn't tolerated.
I can not even imagine having a neighbor threaten to shoot my dog now. Sure, they might call Animal Control on us if we were somehow causing a nuisance, but there would be no shooting. And if there was, it would be such an extraordinary event that it would make all of the local papers.
I would say, on the whole, that I prefer the way that things are done NOW. Many of those farmers, I'm positive, would accuse me of coddling my animals and treating them better than some people treat their human children. And I would have to agree with them. I DO coddle my animals, and am completely and utterly unrepentent about it. And I probably do treat them better than some people treat their children, though that to me doesn't say anything bad about me, rather about some parents.
So what do you think? Is it a Now versus Then thing, or is it more a City versus Country thing?