People love their pets. There's no doubt about it.
And people are not shy about spending money to express that love.
According to the American Pet Product Association, pet owners in the U.S. spent $66.75 million on their pets in 2016, and that figure is expected to increase with an estimated $69.36 million spent in 2017.
That spending has nearly doubled in 10 years and tripled over the past 20. The association reported $38.5 million in pet spending in 2006 and $21 million in 1996.
Those figures include food, which accounts for the highest percentage of money spent on pets, vet care, supplies and the cost of burying a pet.
People buy high-end pet food, cute toys, costumes and crates to make their pets’ lives easier.
They even spend a pretty penny to make sure their deaths are treated with the respect equal to the love those pets gave in their lifetime.
Pet burial services and products aren’t a new industry. There long have been pet cemeteries, pet coffins, pet urns and a wide variety of pet grave markers.
My passed-on pets are buried in my yard or memorialized in pretty carved wooden urns if they died during the winter.
So please understand I’m not mocking anyone who would mourn the loss of a pet – any pet.
But as a die-hard pet lover, even I am taken aback with the newest pet product I’ve discovered – a goldfish coffin.
Technically, the retailer, PawPods, refers to the product as a fish pod. It’s part of a line of biodegradable urns and coffins it sells to – in its words – “sensibly” say goodbye to a beloved pet.
Most of the products in the line seem like a good idea. There are products for the dignified disposal of the remains of cats, dogs and other small animals. In fact, if I had something like this available when some of my pets died, I might have bought a biodegradable pet pod for them.
But for a fish?
It’s not that you can’t love a fish.
My senior year in college, my sister gave me a goldfish for my birthday. She had won it that day at a nearby church carnival. I think the ping-pong game cost her 25 cents.
Anyway, I eventually moved out, but the fish stayed and lived for another eight years.
My mother grew quite attached to him.
When he eventually went belly up, she even tried to give him fish CPR. I’m not kidding.
But after the tears dried, she wrapped him in a napkin and buried him in her vegetable garden – a sensible move since goldfish make excellent fertilizer.
What she did not do is spend $9.99 cents on a fish coffin – or exactly $9.74 more than it cost to acquire him.
That’s what a fish pod costs.
The company explains the reasoning for the extravagance on its website by noting that the death of a goldfish is often the first death a child experiences, and having a full-fledged fish funeral can help a child cope with the loss.
In fact, it boasts that each Pod comes with a seeded sympathy card that can be planted to create a “living memorial of the beloved pet,” thusly sparing kids from the “trauma of seeing their pet flushed down the toilet.”
I don’t know. As a child I always thought a dignified “burial at sea” with a few kind words about “what a good fish Goldie was” pretty much did the trick.
Spending that kind of money on a fish – no matter how awesome the fish – seems a bit overindulgent.
If you’re willing to spend 10 bucks to bury a fish – I’m sorry, but you have too much disposable income.
Why not honor that fish by donating that $10 to a local pet charity and give good ole’ Goldie the spartan funeral she probably would have wanted.
A nice clean napkin and a vegetable garden seem like a pretty good fish-resting place to me.