The phenomenon spreads like wildfire throughout the State. In the national average and in the autonomous communities. In Asturias, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Andalusia … And also in the Canary Islands, where proportionally there are already more dogs than children under 15 years old. Why does this happen? The answers must be sought in two scientific fields. Psychology and Sociology, specifically in the branch of demographic analysis. In a generic way and among other issues, due, on the one hand, to the loneliness of many elders who find their refuge in the pet and on the other in the brutal descent of birth. A single statistical data is enough. The Canary Islands occupies the second position among the European regions with the lowest fertility rate. In a ranking led by Asturias and in which in the top ten places there are three other Spanish: Galicia (fifth), Cantabria (sixth) and Castilla y León (ninth). Eloquent.
On a national level, the 2018 comparison is also blunt: 13 million pets for 7.4 million children under 15 years old. More data: in 2017 in the city of Madrid there were twice as many dogs -281,399- that children from 0 to 4 years -141,993-. And even more eloquent figures, those of the aforementioned Asturias; registered dogs, 163,627, a total of 13,000 more than under 20 years -150,674-.
"Adopting a dog as a pet has become commonplace, it is fashionable and even necessary. So much so that the fewer births of children in Spain and the Canary Islands, the more pets add to family life." Indira Alcalá Franco, Health Psychologist, Sexologist and Therapist values it
For this expert "we are facing a new family lifestyle, that of interspecies families. The type that is but with the pet as a member. Couples who decide to adopt a dog instead of having their own children, because they have children or / and adopting is complicated, expensive and incompatible with the rhythm of life we lead today. "
"The current society -apostilla- bets on adopting a dog instead of breeding a child of its own and raising it. We celebrate our pet's birthday with balloons, cake, party favors and invitation card for the big celebration, like the non-human animal whole, we have simply humanized it. "
Alcalá concludes that "to humanize our pet is to give it a place in our living space, home, heart and life as one more, with all the rights of attention, care and well-being, even with a chip, vaccination card and a trusted veterinarian."
The reasons are several: "It will be because a dog does not give you as many problems nor demands you as much as we do people; it will be because loneliness is galloping despite being more and more; it will be because it is not socially accepted to invade space or space today The time of our neighbors, friends, colleagues, or close and much less distant relatives; it will be because migration for better living conditions make us settle in cities, get away from our loved ones and make new friends is not so easy; it will be because establishing a Couple relationship is quite complicated because there is little or no tolerance and the commitment is not fashionable; it will be because we are too hooked on social networks, video games, WhatsApp, etc, etc, etc., ".
And he values that "people look forward to having a dog as an unconditional friend, who doesn't ask or demand you. He waits for you at home like May water, is always by your side and never leaves you. It may be the solution to have your own time , don't depend on anyone emotionally and don't expect others to depend on you more than necessary. " In addition, "we must combat loneliness, little urban space and even force us to leave home and exercise. Reasons why a dog can become the ideal member of the family, even if we are only two."
Therefore, "being a mother or father of a pet has become a role that fills existential gaps. There are those who consider the pooch a son or a daughter. They like to talk to them in a particularly warm and even childish tone as they do to children. small children It is hard to imagine establishing such a special, complex and deep bond with an animal, not only a dog, but even snakes.The therapeutic benefits are endless in the face of loneliness, old age, major depression, neurodevelopmental disorders, demential processes, etc. A pet helps to recover the desire to live, mitigate pain, overcome obstacles, recover mobility and solve relational difficulties. "
Therefore, "it is not surprising that many people establish deep and authentic ties with their pets, celebrate their birthdays, share special moments, their deepest secrets, be their confidants, and even cry and experience the pain of grief when they die. We need to return to believe in selfless and unconditional acceptance. We need to increase our quality of giving and receiving affection without feeling the uncomfortable feeling that something I have to give in return, that something is expected of me, that asking for a favor or being in need is a symptom of vulnerability ".
But Indira Alcalá also points out: "Treating a dog like a child is humanizing the pet, perhaps we are subtracting the possibility of giving us all its true potential and pampering it to the point of making them useless. It does not help our pets or anything it improves our relationship with them. More because the dog needs to develop its own abilities and skills, rather than trying to turn them into capricious and spoiled children. "
Another important aspect "is because in the majority of cases, when adopting a dog from a shelter, we have the conviction that he has suffered abuse, neglect and we must protect him avoiding the feeling of suffering at all costs and fill all the gaps. then, even sleeping in our bed and overprotecting them. Perhaps, what we are actually projecting is our own sense of abandonment in ourselves that we have not overcome and the need for protection that we have never managed to feel. "
"The problem with this type of attitude, he says, is that the non-human animal will suffer anxiety when we leave him alone at home, fear and even anger because he feels that we are abandoning him. Of course, to reify is much more harmful than to humanize our pet , but neither overreach us because it could be harmful to her. "
"The best way," he concludes, "is to mutually nurture the relationship between the animal and the human, allowing each one their space and develop the best of themselves. The greatest benefit is that a pet gives us real well-being, gives us meaning to life , will always receive us with joy and helps us improve our emotional ties. "
From precariousness to personal fulfillment
Josué Gutiérrez Barroso is a professor of Sociology at the ULL and president of the College of Sociology and Political Science of the Canary Islands. An authorized voice that begins its reflection considering the comparison between dogs and children as "irrelevant". But it analyzes "a cluster of factors" to explain the drop in births in Spain and the Canary Islands. In the first place "precariousness (unemployment, temporary employment …), which makes planning much more uncertain than in previous historical stages and much more complicated to have children." The expert adds that "there are also social movements that suggest that it is not necessary to have a child to perform as a person. A matter of values to take into account." Also "there are those who prioritize other types of things before having offspring. For example enjoy life and have less responsibility." A set of factors that lead to a low fertility rate. "A society with increasing uncertainty and higher risks. The mission in life is no longer to have a child, people do not take risks and prioritize other issues," concludes Josué Gutiérrez. It should be remembered that, according to the data of the report Evolution of families in the autonomous communities 2019, carried out by the Family Policy Institute and released last May, the Canary Islands is among the autonomous communities that have the worst demographic indicators of birth and is heading to what is known as demographic suicide. And it could be even worse if it weren't for the foreign population. The study places Asturias (1.03), Canarias (1.05) and Castilla y León (1.14) in a critical position. Analyzing the evolution since 1980, the regions with the worst fertility rates are the Canary Islands (-1.48), Andalusia (-1.37), Murcia (-1.33) and Extremadura (1.21). In addition, the average age of maternity is increasingly high, above 31 years.
Although they are a rising population, legislation on dogs in the Canary Islands is in diapers. Ordinances on the possession of animals have proliferated but especially regarding potentially dangerous breeds. The City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife considers the companion animal as "a being that at the moment in which it is adopted must be a member of the family." Each pet must be "registered in the census and identified with chip". The owner has his "responsibilities" and any type of aggression or abuse is prohibited. Nor are shows allowed with animals or begging with one as a claim – in large cities, beggars with dogs proliferate because "children do not move so much" -. Finally, faults are related – minor, serious and very serious – and economic sanctions (fines). Santa Cruz has two large canine spaces: Cuchillitos de Tristán, in Ofra, and Acorán, in the Southwest. And others bounded in enclosures such as García Sanabria Park or Don Quijote. The possibility remains open in other areas such as El Toscal, Salud Bajo or La Gallega.
There are not enough spaces exclusively for pets despite the fact that there are more every day. San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Gran Canaria) publishes its next Grand Canine Park (800 square meters and 40,000 euros cost) as a similar example "to the most modern cities in Europe". In Tenerife, the municipality of Arona will reserve a specific space for dogs in the large urban park of Las Rosas. And La Orotava plans three in El Mayorazgo, Carmenaty and La Luz. On the island, 2,500 dogs are abandoned every year.
And the beaches?
Summer, heat and few coastal places where dog bathing is allowed. Public Health of the Government of the Canary Islands has no census and leaves everything to the municipal competition with the proviso that where there is a blue flag, the bathing of animals is prohibited. Of rest there are eight enabled. Three in Tenerife (almost four because in Las Gaviotas, in Santa Cruz, it is allowed after the attempts at Las Teresitas and the Maritime Park): Puertito de Güímar, El Cabezo and El Confital, both in Granadilla; one in La Palma: Los Guirres / El Volcán / Playa Nueva in Tazacorte; another in Lanzarote: Las Coloradas / El Afre, municipality of Yaiza, and three in Gran Canaria: Los Tres Peos and Los Cuervitos in Agüimes, and Bocabarranco / Jinámar in Las Palmas capital. The most recent initiative is that of the City Council of La Laguna, which studies enabling areas in Jóver and La Punta.
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