How dogs make a difference in everyday life

TORONTO – Toy dogs may be small but they are among the growing number of pooches pushing up the city’s dog population.

But dogs are also big business.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council Canada found in 2013 the Canadian pet industry was worth an estimated $6.6 billion.  The council also found 57 per cent of Canadian households have some kind of pet.

PIJAC Canada estimates dog owners will spend an average of $1,200 to $1,500 a year on their dog.

“They rely on us to look after them so people do spend quite a lot of money on their dogs,” said Abbat.

The pet industry as a whole has maintained a steady average growth of between 4-4.5 per cent annually for over a decade and is predict to do so for this year as well.

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According to Toronto Animal Services, the number of licensed dogs in Toronto more than doubled between 2005 and 2013.  Of the 55,000 licensed dogs in the city, toy dogs account for 21,000 – a jump of 379 per cent for the breed.

“People are looking for more interaction.  The bigger the city gets, the busier people’s lives get.  Dogs help bridge that gap,” said Keiley Abbat of Small Wonders Pet Emporium.

People have made amazing connections from meeting through their dogs.

Dog owner, Tanya Anthony, is now fundraising money to help Nic Paterson, a quadriplegic with a guide dog named Shadow after meeting him during a chance encounter.

“I said, ‘oh I see your dog has a bad paw.  And he couldn’t afford to take him to the vet and that’s where i stepped in and things escalated from there,” said Anthony.  “now, I want him to get physiotherapy after i heard his story.”

Paterson relies on Shadow every day.

“He’s literally my hands,” Paterson said. “He picks up my stuff, opens door for me, takes off my sweater gets stuff out of the fridge.”

Anthony is planning to rollerblade 50 kilometres to raise money for her new friend.

“It’s amazing that I met someone this amazing that was able to do this stuff for me,” said Paterson.

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