Editorial April 1998 Issue

What Wouldn’t We Do?

Dog care innovations offer an answer: Not much!

My dog, Rupert, is so good, so fun to be around, and so low-maintenance, that I often forget about all the trouble he caused me when he was younger. I’m not just referring to his idiosyncratic puppy behavior – getting violently ill if he just got near a car, much less rode in one, chewing everything made of wool in the house, or piddling and running to hide in the bathtub if we raised our voices. All domestic chit-chat was reduced to a whisper unless we knew Rupert had been outside to empty his bladder in the last hour!

I’m also referring to the fact that he’s experienced a few serious illnesses in his lifetime, each of which has cost me a small fortune and uncountable hours of nursing. (He’s a dog who likes to have his paw held, so to speak, when he’s not feeling well.) But whatever it takes to make Rupert better when he’s not well, no problem; I’ll do it.

I’m not alone. Many of us are devoted to our companions, but it seems to me that only in the last few years has it become socially acceptable to admit how much time and money we spend keeping our dogs happy and healthy.

Dogs are very big in my part of the country right now, and businesses are springing up everywhere to cater to the canine craze. Recently a business called “Every Dog Has Its Day Care” opened in the city of Emeryville, which is located at the foot of the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge. “People are working longer and longer hours and have less time to spend with their dogs,” says Lauren Westreich, the owner of the doggie day care. “People don’t want their dogs stuck at home all day.” The dogs get to socialize with other dogs, either in the center’s auditorium-like indoor playground, or an adjoining outdoor yard. Staffers wade through the customers like any day care workers, initiating games, smoothing over minor squabbles, and lavishing special attention on the shy dogs.

The concept is popular in San Francisco, too, where the SF SPCA opened a similar facility a few weeks ago and quickly found itself caring for 60 dogs, with a 100-dog waiting list.

More and more people are also taking their pets with them when they go on vacation. A number of giant hotel chains, including the Ritz-Carlton, Radisson, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Red Lion, Doubletree, and Stouffer hotels now offer special “pets welcome” suites at selected locations through the country. Rural bed and breakfast inns are increasingly equipped with crates in the bedrooms and fenced paddocks available for their clients’ dogs.

The number and variety of dog care products and toys is also increasing at a rapid clip. At a giant all-breeds dog show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace recently, I saw vendors selling Canine Oral Hygiene Machines, slingshots that shoot tennis balls about three times farther than I can throw one, retractable leashes with built-in flashlights – tons of stuff you’ll be seeing in our Product News and Reviews column in the months to come.

People might think that even this publication is a response to the canine wave. Actually, it’s an outgrowth of another one of Belvoir Publications’ magazines, THE WHOLE HORSE JOURNAL, which is in its third year of delivering top quality articles about natural horse care and training and serves as a model and inspiration to us here. I hope we’re in the right place at the right time, and we can ride this wave to bring you strong, smart, commercial-free canine journalism as well as our sister horse publication has for its readers. In the meantime, tell your friends!

-Nancy Kerns
Editor-in-Chief

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