Dave’s Soda & Pet City started 40 years ago with owner Dave Ratner selling soda out of his trunk outside a gas station along Route 9 in Hadley. Then, in an effort to meet women, he got a puppy, which, he added, “works great.” While out purchasing food for his dog, Ratner was disappointed by the meager selection and thought there was room in the pet market for growth. And the rest, they say, is history. Ratner started his business just ahead of the pet craze America is happily frolicking in. Americans will to spend $62 billion on their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. “Who would have ever known that pets would become more important — and rightfully so, of course — than your children, wives, husbands, and in-laws,” Ratner jokes. “The one thing, they’re not more important than is grandchildren.” A new feature at a few of Dave’s stores is a pet washing area. For about $13 people can show up with a muddy pup and use the store’s soaps, water, towels, and what-not to clean up the pooch.