The posh life for pups used to be reserved solely for purebred champions and winners of the top dog awards at the Westminster Dog Show held each year in New York City. According to the staff at the Hotel Pennsylvania, where the contest is held each year, dog owners, groomers, and handlers usually sleep on cots or blankets while their canine protoges lounge comfortably on the beds in their rooms. And those rooms can cost as much as $750 a night, so some owners have to work more than one job just to afford being able to take their dogs to the show.
But nowadays, you don't have to be a pedigreed pooch to be treated to luxury like the dog show stars. This year, Americans will spend over $35 billion on their pets-up from a paltry $17 billion just a decade ago. One of the main reasons for the huge increase is the steadily growing availability of more and more high-end products on the market for pampering pets. It may seem extravagant to some, but with today's society focusing so much on health and good looks, why shouldn't a four-legged American be just as entitled to looking, eating, and feeling fabulous? Robert Yau, 37, knows the importance of pet owners doing whatever it takes to ensure that their hairy friends have a good self-concept and a healthy social life. That's why he founded www.datemypet.com, a website sporting online dating profiles for over 50,000 pets. Yau says that today's digital lifestyle has separated people instead of uniting them, and as a result, people are doting on their pets more than ever. "Pets have become an essential expansion of a lot of people's lives. They provide unconditional love and they've become a very important part of the family," Yau said.
According to Laura Oravec, co-owner of PamperedPetsCatalog.com, it's just as natural to spoil a pet as it is to spoil a child. "They're part of the family; they're like my kids," she says. "Me and my husband don't have kids and so our animals are our kids. There just isn't anything we wouldn't do for them." With orders averaging in the range of $150 apiece, Oravec's business has grown so rapidly during its two years of existence that the company is planning to start up sites in England and Australia. Oravec herself is one of Pampered Pets' best clients, indulging her two dogs and nine cats by feeding them gourmet food, dressing them in jewel-encrusted collars, and giving them waterbeds to lounge on. "When I put a special collar on them or a special scrunchy that I got them, they actually pose," she said. "They get the extra attention for it and they know it-and they love it."
Doting on pets used to involve a trip to the groomer every few weeks for a bath with a little bow tied on the head, or a box of Meaty Bonz now and then, and maybe even a special rawhide candy cane at Christmas. But today's doting has gone to a whole new level. Paul Mitchell, the hair care guru of beauty salons all across the country, has released a line of high-end grooming products for pets. The John Paul Pet line includes products such as a 'calming, moisturizing shampoo', that contains aloe vera gel, sweet almond oil, and chamomile. And here's the kicker-the shampoo sells for around $12, while a similar sized bottle of Paul Mitchell Awapuhi shampoo for humans costs around $11. If your pooch needs a little pick-me-up, a splash of some Timmy Holedigger or Woof Warren's Bono Sports cologne will get his tail wagging again in no time. For those discriminating doggie divas, Lulu Jane has a line of shimmering silver and prom night pink nail polishes that will make being in heat just a little bit hotter. Add to the glitter a visit to the New York Dog Spa & Hotel, and a pooch can be treated to the finishing touches of a bath, skin conditioning, haircut, and ear cleaning, all for only $55 to $65. Cap everything off with a half hour of massage for only $35, and your canine will be all set to party the night away.
After a hard night of pooch partying, there's no better way for your pet to get back in touch with his inner dog than to attend a 'doga' class at East Yoga in New York's SoHo district. If the Big Apple is too far away, perhaps you can treat your furry friend to some doggie takeout from the Pet Tasties Pet Café in Atlanta. Or just enjoy a quiet evening at home with your animal companions by renting 'A Dog's Life' and cracking open a can of Newman's Own organic dog food, and putting out a tray of Merrick's special line of surf 'n turf and California rolls for cats. And if a quiet evening at home isn't relaxing enough, you can settle your best friend down with-believe it or not-Prozac for dogs.
Despite all the incredible options available for pampering pooches in every conceivable way, there are plenty of owners out there who aren't willing to pony up the money to ensure that their pet leads a charmed life. In fact, most dog owners think it's downright idiotic, since animals can't tell the difference between a ruby and a rutabaga. But the owner of NYCPET.com, Chris DeGuido, says that pet owner's habits of spoiling their animals has increased dramatically since the tragedies of 9/11. And although pet owners regularly visit her store to stock up on Frosty Paws ice cream treats, jeweled collars, and dog dish water purifiers, DiGuido says the luxurious lifestyles being cultivated by pet owners today is beyond extreme. "There are a lot of little children out there that don't have coats and there are dogs out there with fur and leather coats-we're talking $400 coats-and that's when it seems a little sad."
If your mind is already boggling after reading this far, you may not want to keep reading. A company called PetsMobility in Scottsdale, Arizona, launched a product called PetsCell. Can you guess what the product is? Yep, it's hard to believe, but PetsCell is the first mobile phone for four-legged friends everywhere. The phone will contain satellite global positioning technology with an optional tracking chip, as well as a fiber optic camera, in case you lose your dog-or it loses you.