With more and more couples putting off having children – or deciding not to have kids at all – what’s left for would-be doting grandparents to do?

To shower all their love and attention on grand-puppies! Grandchildless seniors are happily providing dogs owned by their children with treats, toys, clothes, and accessories. Some proud “grand-puppy parents” have even set up Facebook pages for the family pooches. They bond with their grand-dogs – and even “visit” them long-distance - via Internet video phone calls, like Ralph and Dolores Corley, an 80-something couple in St. Louis that “visits” grand-puppy Gracie in Atlanta via Skype.

Dr. Harold Herzog is a psychology professor at Western Carolina University. He points out that dogs have lived closely with humans longer than any other domesticated animal. Man’s best friend has gone from protector, to hunter, to companion, and the logical next step is to become a full-fledged member of the family. They’re also something grand-puppy parents can talk about, as well as a source of relaxation, stress relief, and unconditional love.

The “grand-puppy” business is booming, with thousands of gift products available. Including dog and human clothing, dog bowls, note cards, mouse pads, tote bags, and coffee cups with sayings like, “My grand-dog leaves paw prints on my heart.”