Creature comforts: No expense is spared on pet products and services
By Denise Sautters
Copley News Service
When I was young, there was a woman who lived on the same street as my family who gave new meaning to having pets. Her two toy French poodles were her children. If memory serves me correctly, the dogs slept in twin beds in an air-conditioned room and were always impeccably trimmed.
That was many years ago. Today, owners — or should I say “parents” — pamper their pets even more. In New York City, the Meow Mix Cafe, a new eatery for cats and their owners, recently opened. Then there is Paris Hilton and Tinkerbell. Need I say more?
But New York and celebrities don’t own the market when it comes to pampered pets. Americans own more pets than ever before, reports the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Bob Vetere, managing director of the association, said pets have a powerful influence on the human race, emotionally and physically.
Pets offer their owners companionship, love, and affection. It is no wonder people spoil them.
“It is one of those unexplainable mysteries,” he said. “We pamper them. We take them wherever we go. We surprise them with something new on special occasions. They even get holiday presents. From high-end items to high-tech items, products for our companion animals now extend beyond traditional necessities.
“There have always been people who spoil their pets, but as technology has increased and has allowed us more fun toys for ourselves and our pets, it has made it easier for us to spoil them. In exchange, pets offer their owners unconditional love and stress relief.”
In a survey done by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, America’s love affair with pets is indicated by the yearly growth in spending on food, care, and supplies. In 2004, it was estimated Americans would spend $34.3 billion. That is up from $28.5 billion in 2001. In 1994, the total industry expenditures were a mere $17 billion.
High-end items to spoil pets are must-haves for pet owners who spare no expense to please their furry, feathered, and finned best friends. Items include faux mink coats for cold-weather outings, Gucci beds, feathered French daybeds for afternoon naps, designer bird cages, botanical fragrances, even rhinestone tiaras.
“They are part of the family,” said Wendy Warren Joliet. “I have three — Shelby, a greyhound-beagle mix, Brewster, an English sheepdog, and Bernie, a St. Bernard. They get their hair done every six weeks … and they also get their nails done and a bath and blow-dry.
“Shelby doesn’t like polish on her nails, but she gets a manicure. All three get an oatmeal bath, then a massage,” she said. “I take care of them as I would a child because they are like my little kids.”
Lisa Kemp takes Emma, a cocker spaniel, to her favorite pet spa for pampering. “We spoil her a lot,” Kemp said. “She is definitely one of our family. We take her to the spa every six weeks.”
At Camp Bow Wow and Meow in Massillon, Ohio, owners Jeff and Debbie Poland specialize in stress management for animals.
“We have 20-plus years in dog training and offer playtime with the pets brought here,” said Poland. “We play ball, run, chase the ducks, whatever. When animals are away from their owners, a lot of dogs and cats feel stress because they miss their owners and routines.”
Don Knoch is one of the camp’s clients. “We have taken Tasha, a husky mix, there. We adopted her from our daughter. Pets grow on you and you love them as you would a member of the family, so you want to do nice things for them.”