The must-have accessory for top dogs comes to Milan

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The Independent Online

For the dog who has everything - dress, jacket, sweatshirt, bow-tie, booties, bandana - here is something he or she might actually need: dog sunglasses, or "doggles".

Italy is the world leader in manufacturing glasses, with nearly 50 per cent of market share worldwide. It is also world leader in where to put glasses when one is not looking through them - top of the head, the chin, the brow, sometimes all three at once. As Italy is also no slouch in the matter of dog-pampering, with all-night dog washeries as common in city neighbourhoods as sun tan salons, it is surprising that doggles have only just arrived. But here they are, star of this year's edition of Mido, the huge annual spectacles fair in Milan which opened yesterday.

For such a crazy invention, doggles have a surprisingly serious story behind them. An avalanche-rescue dog in Austria developed a crippling eye inflammation due to the intense radiation of the sun reflected off the snow, and a local optician, Reinhold Kreyca, developed a pair of goggles to enable the dog to go back to work. The sports eyewear company Alpina was brought on board and developed the first range of what they called, in their snappy Austrian way, "dog-goes".

Once renamed "doggles" and adopted by a company in California, they became the daftest thing for dogs since the bandana. Dogs are supposed to get resigned to them in a day or two, and if they are dubious it is enough to point out that they are fitted with rugged shatterproof polycarbonate anti-fog lenses offering 100 per cent UV protection and are "gggreat for dogs with eye disorders such as pannus and light sensitivity," say the manufacturers. Coming soon: moggles for cats.

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