Weatherford Democrat

February 1, 2008

Pet industry is unleashed

Denise Cook, Democrat Columnist


When I was growing up we always had dogs. Life as a dog owner was simple then, consisting of the joy of just having them around, making sure you had a secure fence, keeping them watered and fed and current on their shots. I’m sure there were dog toys and treats back then, but I don’t ever remember our family buying them. But we were all happy, be it four and two legged, we just enjoyed being around each other.

In the 21st century, the dog world has “ramped-up” quite a bit. Pet industry growth demonstrates that the human/animal bond is as strong as ever. According to many studies, we have doubled the amount that we spend on our pets in the last decade and the pet retailers are happy to supply us with ample choices.

A friend who knows I’m “dog crazy” gave me a catalogue she received. It’s called In the Company of Dogs with the subtitle of “Great Gifts and Gear for Dogs & the People Who Share Their Lives.” As I thumbed through it I was absolutely amazed at the plethora of products all made to enhance the life of our dogs, or at least make us think it will.

Some of the things featured seemed ridiculous to me such as a corset that wraps around the middle of your male dog covering his “private part” to catch the mess when the temptation of inappropriate leg-lifting strikes. This product is called the “Wizzer Belly Band” and thank goodness it is machine washable. There are no words…

But I have to admit, some of the products were fabulous like The Perfect Leash which is designed with a comfort-grip handle and a made with a proprietary polyurethane material that stretches to alleviate the shock to the dog’s neck and shoulders as well to the handler’s hand and body. I’d love to have one but am not keen on the $32.95 price — plus shipping and handling.

Another useful product is an assortment of belly slings and back harnesses used to help the geriatric dog, dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis or spinal trauma as well as dogs recovering from back or hip surgery. Quite humane and helpful I thought.

One thing that really caught my eye was and assortment of designer crates. They were really beautiful and I get so tired of looking at Baxter’s ugly tarnished wire crate that stays out in our bedroom. These gorgeous crates were all wire but in stylish designs and colors. One of them even looks like wicker.

Perhaps the most decadent thing on offer is a service called Canine Heritage. This is a DNA-based diagnostic test that for $79.95 can genetically determine the breed composition of your dog. The test is non-invasive and painless as you just collect cheek cells with a soft-bristled nylon brush and send them for analysis. As the owner of two mix-breeds I would be very tempted by this were it more affordable, but for now I’ll just continue to call them designer breeds.

I could go on an on, but suffice it to say that if you are a dog owner, especially with deep pockets, there are endless ways to pamper your pooch. If you are lucky enough to be owned by a dog, you’ll know their gift to you is unconditional love.

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Denise Cook is a freelance writer/photographer for the Weatherford Democrat, co-founder of Parker Paws, a non-profit in support of the Weatherford/Parker County Animal Shelter, and a lifetime pet owner. Contact Denise at denise@parkerpaws.org, call (817) 597-5784, or visit parkerpaws.org.