I read Pets in America: A History by Katherine C. Grier. The book takes a look at records related to pets primarily in the Northeast U.S. in the mid- and late-1800's and early 1900's. It looks at publications, ads, personal journals, and any other documents the author could find related to pets. Some of it was very interesting, some of it was honestly a bit boring. The thing that struck me most was that while some things change, some things stay very much the same.
Some people looked at pets as part of the family, some looked at pets as fixtures to be easily disposed of when they no longer served their purpose or the novelty had worn off. For some, the interest was in having an unusual pet or something to show off – a decoration, of sorts. Reminds me of all the changes made to dog breeds over these past decades, the desire for “designer dogs” these days, and the fascination with “exotic” pets.
Looking at advertisements from decades ago, you see similar tactics that are used today. For example, from the beginning of the first dog foods and supplements, advertisements made claims of foods being balanced and healthier for dogs and helping them live longer. Supplements made claims about curing or preventing diseases or other medical issues despite any scientific proof or based on most likely poorly conducted or very small sample size studies.
Some of the things I thought were more modern developments, it seems have been going on for decades, a century, perhaps even longer. In some ways, we've come a long way. In some ways, things never change!