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After Work: New York Is For The Dogs

…New York is a dog’s kind of town. Right out my window is a park that boasts of having one of the ten best dog runs in the nation. I honestly don’t know how the list was formulated. I can imagine people with dogs in cars crisscrossing the country asking locals, “Any good dog runs around here?”…

When a catalog devoted to dogs dropped out of the Sunday New York Times Dona Gibbs was launched into contemplation of canine comforts.

For more of Dona’s delicious columns please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Last Sunday when I lifted the heavy Sunday New York Times from our doormat and hauled it into the living room, a catalog fell out. Now this is hardly rare. Glossy magazines filled with expensive real estate, flyers offering sales on cameras and computers, leaflets with news of savings galore are stuffed into the Times to tempt us to buy, buy, buy.

What caught my eye were the puppies, fat squishy golden lab puppies, nested in a dog bed. Inside an esteemed North American retailer of country life gear was selling, you guessed it, dog beds and all manner of other stuff for dogs.

The entire catalog was devoted to dogs. Oh yes, there was one or two pages for cats but you could see where the retailer’s heart was. Dogs. Sporting dogs. Not purse-size pets. Dogs born to wear bandanas. Loll their heads out of SUVS. And suck in fascinating scents .

Now while I don’t have a dog, nor do I foresee a dog in my future, I read this opus cover to cover.

I learned a lot. There were dog beds for large dogs. Dog beds for medium dogs. Dog beds for small dogs. And a handy chart for people who couldn’t figure out where their dog fit in the size spectrum.

Size, stated the copy, wasn’t the only consideration. Does your dog like to dig around in his bed before retiring? Then he’ll appreciate a bed filled with pellets. Does your dog like to lounge with his head on a chair arm? There’s a bed with an arm. There’s a bed with a roll in the back if doggy likes to snuggle with his back against the couch. There’s even one with soft sides all around for insecure dogs.

All of these come in all kinds of colors and patterns to match the décor. Chew proof, of course.

Page after page. Doggy car seats. Doggy coach throws. Doggy safety gates. Dog crates, even one that doubled as a mission style end table.

Now you’re probably muttering, “New York. That’s no place for a dog. What kind of a nutcase would have a large sporting breed in a small apartment?”

My answer is New York is a dog’s kind of town. Right out my window is a park that boasts of having one of the ten best dog runs in the nation. I honestly don’t know how the list was formulated. I can imagine people with dogs in cars crisscrossing the country asking locals, “Any good dog runs around here?”

I look out and see a morning parade, a midday saunter and an evening stroll. Professional dog walkers with eight dogs stop and water their charges. Big dogs with other big dogs. Small dogs with small ones. Everyone looking happy.

One of my regular walks (sans dog) takes me right by a dog day care center. It’s on the ground floor of a sleek modern high-rise building. I peek in and see the dog sitters patting and playing with their clients. I once spotted a Schnauzer sitting in a corner, facing the wall. Maybe he was having a “time out” to think about a rules infraction.

There are dog spas with all kinds of cutesy names like Bubbles and Barks. Most impressively, there’s a world-renowned animal medical facility, a multi-story building with state-of-the-art everything.

New Yorkers are far from alone in lavishing care and attention on their pets. Just think about the Queen and her Corgis. There are about 6.5 million dogs in the U.K. Then there are the French. They take their dogs out to dine and it’s not unusual to kick over a water bowl forgotten under a table. There are about 8.1 million Fifis and Fidos.

Worldwide, the pet care industry is booming. The China Daily News reported that in 2003 the average spending in Shanghai on a dog was 300 Yuan or roughly $36 a month. It’s no wonder that economists are starting to look at pet care figures as an indicator of economic growth in disposable income.

Surfing around the Internet I see there’s a splendid dog hotel in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Muffy or Buster’s owner would have to have deep pockets to book here. The rates are $78 a day for boarding and $57 a day for services. One of which is a bedtime story. The day the reporter visited, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune, the selection was “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

Back to the catalog. There were all kinds of toys. Many wouldn’t look out of place in a nursery. One of my favorites was a plush pheasant. The lab in the photo looked especially proud of his toy bird retrieving expertise.

For guilty pet owners who must be away all day there was a $150 dollar gadget that dispended a toy with a treat inside every few hours.

The best toy of all for dog and owner, in my opinion, was a golf club driver but instead of a golf ball, a tennis ball could be launched 150 yards. And when good old Chumley fetched the ball, there’s was no stooping over to relaunch the soggy thing. The ball could be simply scooped up for another go.

It looked like a heck of a lot of fun. And it almost got me out of chair to place an order. Then I remembered: I don’t have a dog.

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