Dogs…for Love or Money?


A friend of mine sent an e-mail today asking me if I’d heard of a certain woman in New York city who aspires to be the next “Martha Stewart of Dogs” I wasn’t sure if this woman had committed some sort of canine crime and was serving time or if she was selling a line of custom high thread- count sheet covers for dog kennel beds. Turns out neither were the case. She’s using her dog to garner attention from celebrities to herself and in turn support herself in a style that she loves and purports that any dog would love. Something she’s done for a long time. This friend proposed that I should “partner-up” with this women in order to sell more copies of my book, THE DOG DIET, A Memoir. No, thank you very much, this is not the world that Sadie and I live in…read our subtitle…”what my dog taught me…” not what my dog earned me.
Did Sadie and I ever set out to become rich from writing a book? No, and a good thing that is because we have not been disappointed! However, at each and every book event, whether in New York City, or Nitro, West Virginia, we have been delighted to meet regular people who allowed a dog to rescue them by taking a simple trip to a shelter and brought home a best friend for life. We were not interested in glomming on to some celebrity whose handlers take care of the dogs every real and imagined need, and when in the company of the star owner, are held captive in the latest bejeweled designer bag in places that are the last environment in the world a dog would enjoy.
When I was approached by a large company that sponsors great shows for women and offered a chance to bring Sadie and speak at these events I made it clear. IF at the first event I realized that Sadie was uncomfortable, scared by the noises and crowd, then she would not be attending the others. IF any part of the traveling or accommodations didn’t allow her time for exercise and dog stuff, she would stay at her boarding camp and a large poster of my beautiful pal would have to suffice.
Turns out, Sadie was a natural star herself. She loved the people she met, she was the reason the hotel (one I’d stayed at many times before with NO upgrade) switched our room to a lovely large suite. She was the reason when we checked in we were greeted with a gift basket of dog treats and bottles of water and directions to the local dog park as well as maps for great dog walks in the city and restaurants where she would be welcome to dine outdoors with me. And the thing about Sadie is that she just loves to be with me.
We employ no dog handlers at our home, no walkers, no gourmet chefs, no dog dental hygienists, and no daycare. We are a team of two, eating together, dogercising each day, watching birds and chasing squirrels. Sadie goes to work with me…down the hall to our home office where she has a loveseat in front of a window with a power line outside that squirrels traverse— frequently pausing to taunt her. She watches out the window to the neighbor’s yard and when the dogs next door come out, she runs to the kitchen door…it’s her morning break so to speak. She like all those workers we see smoking outside of office buildings, has to get out and get the latest gossip from her canine cronies.
One of this woman’s projects that will soon be for sale (can’t wait) is a MUTT MAKEOVER! What this entails is beyond me, but I know this…the only living creature needing a makeover when I was lucky enough to get Sadie to agree to come live with me was ME. She was perfect in every way as most dogs are when they are loved, trained properly, and integrated into a person’s life. Why does a dog need a makeover? What fun is that for them?
Celebrities all too often see dogs as mere accessories. I have seen the video clip way too many times of Brittany Spears in the midst of a crowded, noisy dance floor clutching a very tiny shaking Chihuahua puppy. Think that dog asked to be there or was licking its little chops waiting for a dogtini?
And Paris Hilton surely singlehandley caused the stampede of young girls to get out and get the smallest dog they can find and sling it over their shoulder in a knock-off designer bag to look cool. This celebrity animal accessory craze in my opinion is also responsible for the huge problem with small dogs being bred in puppy mills, sold at exorbitant prices, being dumped at shelters when they inevitably become sick. WHAT ABOUT THE DOG?
Now I am not condeming all celebrities…there are many, many stars and public figures who do wonderful things for dogs, share their lives with dogs, raise money for dogs, and present a great example of how dogs should be loved and be cared for. Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore started the absolutely wonderful BROADWAY BARKS held in NYC each July where dogs are adopted and big bucks are raised for shelter dogs. Its a fact of life that when a celebrity lends his or her name to an event, it is more successful…I just hope it’s celebs who really love and take care of their dogs. As for this woman’s icon…Martha Stewart seems to be an absolutely perfect Dog Mom. She exihbits a genuine love for her dogs and for that matter all her animals. They live in environments that are confortable for them and the bond between them and their Domestic Diva Mom seems quite real. Its the irresponsible celebrities whose dogs we see flaunted out in public or peeing on the floor of their mansion on reality shows that give the pairing of celebs and canines a bad rap. Dogs properly trained, not lacking love and affection, don’t do the things we see on these television shows and don’t stare at cameras form the depths of a fancy handbag with little or no joy in their eyes.
This after all is America and free enterprise is one of the wonderful benefits of living here. It just makes me madder than I can express when this need to be seen, need to rub shoulders with those we perceive as the rich and famous, need to move up from the have category to the have-more category involves innocent living creatures.
My dog Sadie, who some may refer to as a mutt, never needed a makeover, but she did make over my life. The lessons of love, and patience, and joy we can learn from our dogs are endless. I do believe their happiness and right to live a dog’s life is stifled by enterprises such as this person who garnered an article in Forbes Magazine. Her goal to be the Martha Stewart of the dog world seems both shallow and sad in a world where like it or not, we are at war, people are losing their homes at record numbers, and they need health care. Making over mutts somehow seems very inadequate in such times or anytime at all.
Will dogs go out of style like last season’s Prada bag? Where do the purse puppies go then? When this woman has exhausted all avenues of turning canines into cash cows…then what?
For those of us who know the endless wonder of sharing our lives with our companion animal…thankfully these are questions we will never have to answer about our dogs.