Our Pampered Pets

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter, right, celebrates with teammates after hitting a single during the third inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles to pass Lou Gehrig's all-time Yankees hit record Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Americans are crazy about their pets. How crazy?

CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist stopped in at Super Zoo, the pet industry trade show, to find out how some owners project their vision of the good life onto their pets.

As is, United States pet owners spend $36 billion a year on Fido, Kitty, et al.

And at SuperZoo, companies display the latest in "pet perks."

The show was held in what Geist calls "fabulous Las Vegas, with its casinos, its bright lights, and its showgirls," such as Pebbles and her friends, strutting down the catwalk in canine couture at a fall fashion show on the strip.

"Pebbles is looking hotter than you-know-who," said the fashion show announcer, "in her paparazzi-ready 'that's hot' tank top.

"Look out, Versace," the announcer continued. "Here comes Mim, in a doggie shrug and ruffled panties."

Reggie's owner walked with him down the runway and said, "Our dog is wearing our couture line. It is a leather look, with leopard trim and Swarovski crystals lined in satin."

So, what are the trends gonna be for fall in doggie fashions?

"We're seeing much more stylized trims this year," replied one judge," more rhinestones, more glitter, more glitz, more money spent on the pet."

That's music to the ears of those at SuperZoo, where thousands of new pet products were trotted out.

"Say what you will about the current administration," Geist observes, "your dog is definitely better off than it was four years ago."

For instance, Hydro Dog is purified water with electrolytes in it.

"We've come a long way since the family dog used to drink out of the toilet," Geist quipped. "Today's dogs eat better and healthier.

"Remember when dogs had to eat dog food?" Geist asked.

Well, Evanger's offers dog and cat food that hardly seems like it, such as, one company representative said, "organic turkey with organic potatoes and organic carrots. And for cats, we do organic braised chicken. We do 100 percent duck, 100 percent rabbit, 100 percent pheasant, 100 percent buffalo, 100 percent beef and 100 percent chicken. (Also) holistic pheasant. We do mackerel and we do a seafood and caviar."

They even to pets' religious preferences, with a kosher cannery.

Dick van Patten, from the TV show "Eight is Enough," has come out with a food line that owners can enjoy with their dogs, "dog food for humans," he calls it. "We have 'hobo chili,' and then we have the Chinese takeout. (Items such as) chop suey chow mein." And Irish stew.

He calls his line Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Dog Food.

Are there any side effects to people eating dog food, Geist wondered.

"Sometimes people start chasing cars and looking for water hydrants," Van Patten joked.

There are many such crossover products, Geist pointed out, as pets lead more and more human lives every day. We recognize that today's dog has psychological needs.

Talking Boneenables you to record a message to your dog, "for canines that have separation anxiety," a company rep explains. "When you're not home, you leave your voice at home so your dog has that comfort level of knowing you're there when you're not there."

Today's dog is a cleaner dog, Geist noticed, thanks to modern technology.

How about – a spa for pets, with the Pet Spa Grooming Machine, which claims to make for cleaner dogs with more pleasant aromas, with such wares as lavender fresh cologne and deodorant for dogs.

Among other things, it results in urine being washed off. Urine-off. "Wasn't he a Russian ballet dancer?" Geist kidded.

Today's pet has more leisure time, Geist says, and gets more fun out of life.

How about — roller skates for birds? One official of The Beak Place, which markets them, was asked by Geist if that's really a growth industry.

"Sure," came the reply. "Like bicycles for fish."

"Our pets have unprecedented educational opportunities," Geist noted, such as what amounts to a Berlitz for birds, at Feathered Phonics CDs.

One CD has eight languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian and German, "in case a bird wants to travel," Geist figured.

"I think," said a rep of The Movie for Dogs, "four or five years from now, we're going to train dogs via video.

The company also makes entertainment videos for pets.

"Now," Geist said, "owners may like all of these products, but we wondered what the dogs were thinking. 'Cookie' didn't seem all that impressed with the indoor pet-a-potty, and headed straight for the pet greeting cards, Edible Greeting Cards.

Where'd the idea come from?

"In the years of running our veterinary practice, people would send their dog a card when they were away and ask us to read the postcard to their dog."

"We thought," Geist said, "dressing up dogs might be sort of humiliating to them, but Cookie loved clothes shopping."

She sampled Doggles Dog Goggles.

"Leading a dog's life? Don't you wish!," Geist concluded.
  • Brian Dakss

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