Here’s a confession that won’t surprise anyone. I love dogs. Love them to the point of distraction. In fact, I think of dogs as miniature, fluffy, adorable versions of humans.
Which is the completely the wrong way to look at dogs. At least, that’s the lesson I got from a gripping episode of Oprah when the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan gently reminded the Big O to be a pack leader, that her Sophie was actually happier thinking that she was a dog, and not human. (Sophie, not Oprah.)
Still, that has never stopped me for pretending for one second that dogs are anything other than human. They’re loyal, they’re smart, they understand your mood, they love to eat and lounge around, they love to party and they want nothing more than a cuddle now and then. And they also love to dress up. Excuse me, but these are very human qualities.
I am not alone in this one-eyed mania.
When my cousin Anna presented Bubbles, her beloved Cocker Spaniel, with a Gucci dog collar a few seasons back (yes, even canine couture has its seasons), her mother was horrified. “You spent how much on a dog collar?” Auntie Wai-ling shrieked.
To which Anna replied stoutly – as she spritzed Bubbles with a doggy cologne called Eau My Dog! – that it was Gucci and besides, “my dog deserves nothing but the best.” This, even as she snapped on her Blahniks and marched out the door to visit Burberry that had just come out with its latest line of canine trench-coats. In the signature plaid, of course.
Meanwhile, my sister Michelle to dropped into Tiffany the other day to pick up a nice, silver name tag for her schnauzer, while a friend outfitted her schnauzer Rupert with a crocodile leather collar studded with Swarovski.
“Oh my God,” Annabelle reported on the phone. “He looks like Liberace on his way to an S&M party! He looks so adorable!”
When my brother Jack was living in New York, he would bring his Afghan Bruno to Biscuits & Bath in the West Village for some acupuncture for Bruno’s sinus issues, and later that night, feed him organic free-range beef and chicken patties. My mother threatened to disinherit him.
To those of you currently reading this with your Bobbi Brown lined lips hanging open in disbelief, I will only say this: forking over $500 for a dog collar that will probably last forever (or at least till Hermés’s next collection) makes far more commercial sense than spending a quarter of a million on little Kui-yen’s education. Because, mark my words, that ungrateful kid will eventually grow up, move out of home and consider it a burden to visit you – in the Maximum Security Sunset Home for the Terminally Bewildered – every Sunday after church and before lunch.
Meanwhile, Bubbles, Bruno and Rupert will need to be tranquilised before they would even think about leaving your side. Which has the better return on investment? I ask somewhat rhetorically.
So, in the general scheme of things, there’s no reason why our four-legged friends should not be rewarded every so often with some quality bling and pampering. The Europeans think nothing of forking over some serious Euros for a canine outfit and accessories. And I love that their restaurants are so dog-friendly. In Parisian cafés, no one blinks an eye when a pedigreed pooch settles down at the next table, while in Louis Vuitton, I’ve had to step over Great Danes just to get to the wallets counter.
Besides, if you’re going to be spending $10,000 on a Birkin, what’s another five hundred for a Gucci braided leather leash for dear old faithful Pooch? Is this really the time to be economizing?
Is it all too much, one might ask? Have we taken complete leave of our senses?
But in a world where tomorrow is so uncertain, when you need courage just to step out your front door, you tend to hold onto a few truths. One of them is that when you come home later that night, your dog will be the first at the door to greet you, hysterically joyful that you’re back and asking nothing more than to spend time with you. It’s an unconditional, unrepentant, unrelenting love. So, yes, forgive us, we may be crazy to spend so much money on a raincoat for an animal that likes getting wet. But a large part of it has to do with the fact that it makes us feel better. And what’s so wrong with that?
I say, live and let live. Or in my world, let sleeping dogs lie.