The look for your four-legged fuck this summer is, “bold print and flowers in metallic, or pretty pastels and bling.” according to Urban Pup Designer Dog Fashions website. Urban Pup is one of hundreds of pet fashion retailers in the United States selling metallic raincoats, varsity sweaters, formal dresses and a variety of other unnecessary dog attire and accessories. I can’t exactly say when dog obsession reached its tipping point in the US as I was living in rural Northwestern Zambia for a couple of years and was only met with the phenomenon when I returned home. It certainly was a shock leaving that tiny region of the world where malnourished people rarely eat proteins, and dogs are loathed, feared even, because the nearest life saving post exposure rabies shot may be a 2 day bike ride away. It was bizarre, as if I’d clicked a remote control and switched planets; one with half naked kids running in fields and hanging from trees; and the other with clothed lap dogs eating organic snacks and hanging out in (gasp!) indoor dog parks.
I recently came across an article in the New York Times describing a new fad known as “doga.” The pun speaks for itself, and if you are imagining well nourished, Caucasian, females in overpriced, cotton-poly blend capri pants and matching tanks bending over and manually manipulating disinterested, inbred dogs, then you are right on track. Dog and master work together on the same mat. Master stretches dog, stares into dog’s eyes for mutual deep breathing, and from the pictures I’ve seen, occasionally uses dog’s head as a balancing block. Doga classes are popping up all over the country and the sessions I’ve found range between $12 and $20 for 45 minutes to an hour. There are also DVDs and books for more fiscally conservative owners and dogs with body image issues to practice at home (‘Princess Bella, don’t even think I’m gonna spend $20 on that doga class until your saddle clipped ass has shed a few pounds!’).
After discovering dog yoga and skimming through the summer clothing lines for America’s bitches and studs, I felt compelled to investigate further (I’ve always enjoyed feeling a little bit uneasy). For $87 to $185 a night you can put your canine up in Chateau Poochie in South FL. They offer individual rooms equipped with a flat screen television, web camera and classical music. The top rooms don a crystal chandelier and a $7,000 designer Toboggan bed that a Chateau Poochie janitor sleeps beside. You can get your dog’s fur highlighted or his back massaged. Some spas even offer warm wax treatments and “extreme makeovers,” both of which sound to me like red alerts for the SPCA. Perhaps most disquieting of all though, is the dog social networking site, DoggySpace.com. The general profile for all the site’s canine members is a self-introduction and a short description of how the dog knows he is very spoiled and naughty, but that it’s okay because mommy loves him anyway. The inevitable bratty tones written in the voice of an 8 year old raise many questions; Who are the women writing these bios? Are they lonely? Childless? Perverse? Do their dog characters reflect their own hidden desires to speak and behave like pampered children? Or do the characters simply represent an unquenchable desire to feed a self-gratifying, consumerist system bent on humanizing canines while turning blind eyes on homo sapiens?
Most of us would happily agree that this all too American trend is a contemptible fading star, another soon-to-be hush hush and embarrassing fad of the past, like Freedom Fries and cheese-encased-with-meat hotdogs. In the meantime, couldn’t we just tack sin tax on these extravagances as well as some other pet products and use the money for much needed social services? I pay a little extra for my night cap and Parliament lights, so let’s make Princess Bella paw over a few extra dollars for her doga lesson and Louis Vuitton dog bag.
Thanks Tess this is awesome!