Gone to the dogs

Our over-priveleged pets
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  February 8, 2007


Pampering has really gone to the dogs.

Sure, it’s a terrible pun, but you know what?  It’s a terrible truth.  And if I have to look at one more Louis Vuitton-clad asshole lugging around a Louis Vuitton-clad fluff ball in a Louis Vuitton carrying case, I’m going to have myself put to sleep.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve found owning a dog to be nothing short of unadulterated joy.  My 95-pound stinker easily outranks most humans on my list of favorite companions, and for that, he is well taken care of.  But so help me god, I refuse to indulge in the elitist mania that is infesting the streets and kennels of Boston. 

Americans have cultivated an environment in which we pamper, pamper, pamper the hell out of ourselves.  We deserve it, don’t we?  To be marinated in seaweed, rubbed down with hot Hawaiian rocks, coiffed with zebra placenta hair styling wax?   After all, it’s stressful to be us.   We work hard, play hard, and spend hard.  Pampering has become the antidote to our workaholic culture. 

Lately, though, this pampering phenomenon has spread like an unctuous fungus, beyond the boundaries of Newbury Street or Back Bay, hell, even beyond the parameters of our species.  Because pampering ourselves has become so droll, darlings.  Now we must pamper creatures that are tinier than us and can’t protest, as an extension of our pretentious, self-indulgent bullshit.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc., Americans spent an estimated $38.4 billion dollars last year on our pets.   “For a lot of people, a dog becomes a child, a family member,” says Jason Rich, author of the 2006 book Pampering Your Pooch: Discover What Your Dog Wants, Needs and Loves.  “The dogs offer unconditional love and support, and are companions for a lot of people.  Humans feel like they have to pay back their dogs, and are willing to spend money.”

And what exactly are we spending this money on?  The most benign expenses are organic food and therapeutic massages, which, when done correctly, can actually improve the quality of your pet’s life, especially if the dog suffers from arthritis or is recovering from an injury.  Fine.  But people are increasingly investing in nonsense like luxury bedding, haute couture collars and pet yoga, which makes the position ‘downward facing dog’ seem a little redundant.  Boston is home to several dog bakeries; peppy little patisseries that house glass cases filled with cannolis and cupcakes and crispy little cookies.  For dogs.  Cannolis for fucking dogs — a clientele that drinks from the toilet and counts crotch among its favorite eau de parfums

Giving new meaning to the expression ‘booze hound’, CNN announced a few weeks ago that some ruddy-faced Dutch drunk has introduced a beer for dogs.  Settle down, PETA; it’s non-alcoholic.  Still, the concept is mind-boggling.  What’s even more astounding is that it’s not the first canine brew.  The California-based Dog Star Brewing Company has been producing a pooch hooch called ‘Happy Tail Ale’ for a few years now, out of choice malted barley and beef drippings.   Maybe your dog prefers to sip his beer from the comfort of a chaise lounge?  No problem.  For several hundred dollars, you can purchase elaborate pet furniture that looks like it belongs in a museum or the VIP room of a Lansdowne street nightclub.  But don’t just hand this shit to your dog.  Wrap it up and give it to him for his birthday, during the enormous party you throw for him, complete with goodie bags and birthday cake.  Deborah Gregg of Roxbury’s Polka Dog Bakery estimates that she sells four custom-baked birthday cakes a week, available in flavors like peanut butter, liver, gingerbread and carrot.  “We ask the owners questions about the dog to find out what the dog likes, and we gear the cake to those likes,” Gregg says.  “If the dog likes tennis balls, or hiking, we decorate the cake based on that.”

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