Be my valentine, Rover: owners splash out on treats for their dogs

VALENTINES DAY is coming and Americans are splurging on little somethings for their special loves. Wrapped in red tissue will be diamond jackets, spa vouchers, nail polish - and the occasional rawhide chewy bone.

Dogs, not girlfriends or wives, will be getting all this attention on Monday. It is as if Cupid had turned canine.

Dog fever will soar even higher with the opening the same day of the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, expected to attract millions of primetime viewers on television.

The Westminster Show, parodied in the recent mockumentary film Best In Show, is the climax of America's highly competitive pet exhibition calendar. Gathering this weekend for the two-day extravaganza in Madison Square Garden will be 2,500 of the most spoilt and groomed dogs in the land.

But it is not just competitors on the champion dog circuit who are getting carried away with their canine obsessions. Americans everywhere are spending more than ever on care for their dogs and other pets - $34bn (pounds 18bn) last year, double the figure of 10 years ago - and are getting crazier about the things they buy them. Throwing doggy a bone just won't do any more. Fido expects fashion accessories, at least.

In New York, dog owners have choice galore. How about the latest carry- bag for toy dogs from the shoe and handbag designer Beverly Feldman, whose boutique is in Midtown? It has crystals and pink leather with a natty leopard print pillow. Fido is worth the price tag, for sure - $665. Looking to furnish your doggy suite? Go online and for $4,000 you will find the perfect dog bed with matching dresser.

Alternatively, scour the pages of the latest magazine for devoted dog owners in Manhattan, called New York Dog. It features an advertisement this month for a Swarovski crystal doggie vest for the bargain price of $5,500. Bergdorf Goodman, New York's fanciest department store, has another dog carry-bag - perfect for sneaking Minny under the table at Le Cirque - which could be yours for just $5,700.

American pet owners are also spending twice what they were even just four years ago on pet services, not including taking them to the vet. This means treating pooch to a day at the doggie spa for grooming, bathing and varnishing of claws - special dietary needs are always taken care of - or perhaps a visit to the local dog psychic or pet "communicator", who will to tell owners what their dogs are thinking.

Is this a country gone to the dogs? Jon Katz, a well-known writer about dogs and author of The New Work of Dogs, suggests that some owners are going too far, forgetting that dogs are dogs, not people.

"I call it the over-emotionalisation of dogs, which is an epidemic in America," he said. "I think we're making dogs crazy by trying to turn them into people with fur. What I like about dogs is that they are not people. They're not devious, they don't have obnoxious political views. Their animalness is what's wonderful about them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links