Why Pet Boutiques Get My Goat
May 7, 2008, by Cathy Fischer
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
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?