Pet trends that must die

Social networking sites for dogs? Kitty wigs? It's time to stop the madness.

By Katie Rolnick

Published February 13, 2009 11:30AM (EST)

As we are all well aware, America is currently cleaning house. We've thrown off the cynicism and done away with the irony. As President Obama said in his inauguration speech, "the time has come to set aside childish things." And so I beseech you, pet owners of all species and breeds, to move into the new era with us. Yes, we can stop treating animals like people and start treating animals like pets.

I'm not saying you can't get your dog some utilitarian booties to protect her tender paws from the elements. Nor am I asking you to stop celebrating your cat's birthday (which provides endless opportunities for everyone's favorite pastime, "kitty-in-a-bag"). But there are some pet trends that are just plain wrong.

All week we've been reveling in our pet love.  We've celebrated our affection to the umpteenth degree.  In an effort to maintain some level of balanced reportage, we offer the following list. 

10. Celebrity pets

For one week in 2004, we held our collective breath as Paris Hilton searched far and wide for her missing pooch, Tinkerbell the Chihuahua. The dog was found and returned to its Louis Vuitton carrier, solidifying the tiny pup's place in the red-hot accessories canon. Glad Tink is safe, but hey, can't we all look back and agree: Man, this story was stupid. 

9. Music and movies for your pets

You know what's good entertainment for cats? Sleeping. You know what's stupid entertainment for cats? The Cat Sitter Video, "specially designed to stimulate and entertain your cat while you are away." I realize that some pet owners worry that, without constant distraction and fun, their pets will fall into existential despair. But "existential despair" is actually the phrase that comes to mind when I look at the MySpace page for the "healing and easy listening" music that pets love.

8. Animal spas and resorts

Offering everything from canine acupuncture to massages (didn't that used to be called "petting"?), luxury pet spas are a favorite among owners who aren't quite ready to literally burn their cash. Hmmm, a day of pampering for Cuddles ... or me? I choose me.

7. Pet costumes

I know, "It's cold outside and Buster needs a sweater." Fine. But a kitty wig? Ferret parkas? You cannot tell me these poor dogs are happy (though I have to admire their stoicism). Is a little respect too much to ask in exchange for unconditional love? 

6. Pet weddings

You're cordially invited to witness the humiliation of Dinky and Vera, who will be clad in their nuptial finest whether they like it or not. Want more? Check out We TV's page of puppy weddings. And if you prefer to do away with humans altogether, how about hiring Reverend Tyker to perform the ceremony? Seriously, I want a divorce.

5. Dog yoga

Also known as "Doga," this trend, which lets pet owners perform yoga with (and on) their dogs, seems sort of like birthday parties for 1-year-olds: more fun for the adults involved.

4. Pet strollers

Wheelchairs for pets = humane and innovative. Strollers for pets = weird.

3. Social networking and blogging by and for pets

As if we don't waste enough time on Facebook, there are a slew of sites for pet owners to create profiles for their beloved companions. According to a story in Time, the canine social networking site had nearly 700,000 users last July. For dogs who can't stop checking their profile, there's Doggyspace Rehab Program -- which even includes a theme song, sung to the tune of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love.'" Meanwhile, blogs like Max the Golden Retriever and the St. Louis Meezers are written from the pet's perspective. (Is that like the third-person omniscient?) In case you're curious, here's a snippet: "Momma and Daddy got back from the lake yesterday, and Momma was too tired to take any pictures of us or even get on our computer to help us visit our furriends." It seems like pets, much like people, are prone to banal blogging.

2. Outrageous luxury items

For those looking to spend $50,000-$200,000 for a pet getaway, there is Elite Pet Haven (replete with Olfactory, Gustatory and Visual Simulation, so it's like the outdoors, only hideously expensive). Or what about a mink, sable or chinchilla fur coat for your dog? How about a $4,000 handcrafted, wooden bird cage? This is the kind of eyeball-bleeding madness that makes you kind of glad for a recession.

1. Creative grooming

Thanks to Christopher Guest's "Best in Show," not to mention the National Dog Show and the recent Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, most of us are acquainted with canine coiffed perfection. But Creative Grooming is a completely different beast. Imagine if you combined the lessons of topiary and "Ace of Cakes," then dropped acid, and went to town on your poodle's fur. We're talking dogs turned into roosters and camels, people. Hold on to your jaw and enjoy this slide show.  It says it all.

Katie Rolnick

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