Why Pet Boutiques Get My Goat

May 7, 2008, by Cathy Fischer

Coach cashmere sweater $148

Coach cashmere sweater, $148

I love my 14-year old cat Cleo. She’s the sweetest, softest, most sensitive little creature on the planet. She demands little except for the basics: food, affection and having her bottom smacked firmly and often. I can understand how people become pet-obsessed—especially when they don’t have kids. But really, Coach collars and Gucci leashes? Quilted handmade booties? I just don’t get it!

From L.A. to New York, Chicago to Austin, beautifully appointed pet boutiques are popping up in the most fashionable parts of town. We’re talking a $30 billion dollar annual industry here, with a projected growth rate of 5 percent—all this while food shortages are occurring around the globe. Not to mention people going hungry right here in the U.S.! Hullo? Is anyone home?

My Miss Cleo wouldn’t wear a dress even if Calvin Klein designed it himself. Yes, Cleo has her special vet diet food, her $80 Sherpa carrier—she is not deprived. I’ve noticed it’s mostly dog owners who force the issue, making Fido conform to whatever fashion trend suits his owners’ whim-de-jour. Have you seen photos of dogs modeling Polo shirts? They look truly miserable!

Back in the day, dogs were dogs. As a child we had an Alaskan Malamute, a big, affectionate canine, who wore her own god-given coat, even in fashion-conscious Los Angeles. On rainy days, the neighborhood Dachshund would do his short-legged wattle-trot down the street, wearing a horribly hand-knit sausage encasing disguised as a sweater. The toy-sized Yorkie next door always pranced around in a little pink bow smelling of her owner’s flowery perfume. It was cute. What was considered quirky and eccentric at the time is now commonplace for city animals.

One of my fellow bloggers, Melissa, has a fashionista dog. Really. Dot the Jack Russell Terrier is a ham. She loves to dress up and pose for pictures, and without being bribed. So, ok, there’s a Coco Chanel in the bunch, but most animals just want to keep it simple. Eat, drink, play, cuddle, stretch and be lazy. Hey, I think they’ve got something there.
Gucci backpack, $410

Gucci backpack, $410

I may be a cliché: a middle aged single woman living with her cat, but when the gap between the haves and the have-nots is so large that domesticated pets are sporting unnecessary “clothing” such as bridal gowns and tuxedos and Paris Hilton pajamas, I just don’t know what to do, except rant, I guess.

So next time you see a four-legged creature dressed up as a human in credit card debt, just say no! Don’t remark about how cute they are. Don’t coo and ahhh. Do not encourage their humans! Instead, gently tell them they could donate the money they would spend at the cutesy pet boutique to the humane society or a non-kill shelter. Now that would be animal loving, wouldn’t it?

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28 Responses to “Why Pet Boutiques Get My Goat”

  1. beezersmom Says:

    Omigod! Can you imagine the humiliation these wee beasties must feel when they sniff other doggie bottoms whilst wearing pink-knitted onesies with sequined and embroidered butterflies??? They must want to sink their canines into our soft manicured hands! I’m not sure what the karma is in this latest trend, but when our upper classes (in terms of income, not taste or morals) are spending the equivalent of several months’ wages just to buy a bunch of giddy-making crap (that’s what it is!) at doggie boutiques, then something is seriously out-of-balance. I know we like to shop (isn’t that what our dear, dumb president wants us to do with our $300???), so how about feeding our addiction by doing less harm? Shop and do good at these sites:
    igive.com
    greatergood.com
    idealist.org
    That’s a start, anyway.

  2. mellimel Says:

    So why no pics of Cleo and Dot?

  3. Cathy Says:

    I actually tried putting Dot and Cleo in, but decided that their natural beauty was just too distracting, thus I decided to stick with my “pet peeves” — designer clothes and accessories — to make my point.

  4. Connie Stetson Says:

    No way am I setting myself up to be part of the pet police. Though I can’t wait to listen in on the conversation Cathy has with someone who’s already a nut about dressing Fido in finery. Let the fur fly!!!

  5. cfinhollywood Says:

    Bridal gowns on dogs? Makes you want to abolish marriage altogether. I have to say though, that your rant reminded me about how much our long-gone dog Josephine used to love it when we wrapped a bandana around her neck and told her how pretty she was. I swear it made her walk around the house like she thought she was hot shit! I’ll have to try it on our current child, Tulip. But, the bandana’s in my drawer, and it only cost $1.59 at the army-navy surplus store. Is that okay?

  6. Cathy Says:

    I doubt that Josephine or Tulip would know the difference if they were wearing an Army surplus bandana vs. a Hermes scarf. That’s the point, not to spend too much money on this stuff. Dogs that like to accessorize vs. dogs as accessories, that’s ok by me. When Project Runway contestants were asked to create matching human/dog haute couture outfits, well that was a bit much. And what about the teacup breeds? They’re all the rage because rich celebrities like to strut the red carpet carrying the tiny pooch in their $$$ designer bags. Don’t get me started…

  7. heidster Says:

    Real dogs don’t need clothes.

    My dog wears what we refer to as her “black fur suit” day in, day out, every day of every season.She always looks chic and stylish – what’s not to like about silky, black, shiny, fur? Her only adornment – a red collar with her name and phone number embroidered in large type, just in case we are ever separated.

    On rare occasions, like the Animal Humane Society’s WALK FOR ANIMALS, she sports a jaunty scarf with our team logo – Pet Here, and she did wear a strand of pearls at our wedding – but that was a special occasion. Generally she likes to keep it simple. More Jill Sander that Donnatella, if you know what I mean.

  8. christie Says:

    You make some salient points as we slide into a deepening recession and face a major re-alignment of our values and needs. But I can’t help thinking that it is may be only a tiny segment of pet-owners who indulge in this pathetic behavior. The Minnesotan dogs that are walked around my neighborhood appear to be the very essence of “au naturel” pets. But, then again, its Minnesota.

  9. Maddie Says:

    You all are insane. It’s just for fun. Dogs and cats don’t really care what you dress them up in. It’s just a fun thing that owners do. Don’t you get that?

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