Dog waiting for his owner in the supermarket.
Took this shot with my iPhone, by the way.
This morning I saw a dog wearing shoes. I didn’t get a shot of it (forgot my camera) but it did remind me of a piece I wrote a year ago when I saw my first dog shoes. Here you go…
Who is Walking Who?
Hunter S. Thompson, the crazed king of gonzo journalism portrayed in drug-induced movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas once said about his life, “It never got weird enough for me.” Interesting words from a guy who regularly blew up rusted out cars on his ranch and inhaled every banned substance known to man. It is important to note, however, that while Hunter certainly had his share of odd moments and strange trips, he lived out his remaining years in rural Colorado—not New York City, where this story takes place…
I was wearing old sneakers.
The man walking his dog was wearing relatively newer sneakers.
The dog had on brown polished loafers – two pairs.
It’s not everyday that you come across a Miniature Pinscher with nicer shoes than yours. However, having recently moved to New York City, I’ve sadly become accustomed to this and other strange phenomenon. The City has a way with absurd trends. It began with practically spray on jeans for men, sunglasses the size of a Hummer windshield, and now it has descended into shoes for pets.
At first I thought they couldn’t be shoes. I mean, come on! So I followed the dog and his owner around the block to get a better look. There I found the pinscher stopped, one leather loafer on a fire hydrant, relieving himself. As I watched the growing yellow puddle crawling at a quickening pace towards one of his other shoes I thought how awful it would be if he peed on his own shoes. Then, he did.
I rushed home to scour the Internet for information on dog shoes, horrified that a mangy little creature could firstly have nicer shoes than mine and then show such disregard as to urinate on them. As the screen came to life I hoped that my search would not bring forth evidence of a larger canine clothing trend.
When you key in “Dog Shoes” online you come across a barrage of listed sites and paid advertisements for pet supplies and medicines and any kind of pampering product you can think of. You can scroll for days and the sites will keep coming. There was one site on the first page of my search that stuck out more than the rest. The site was HandsnPaws.com, which states, “Whether it’s frozen ice, snow or hot pavement, dog boots are no longer a fashion statement, they’re a necessity.”
First of all, the ice had better be frozen. Everyone knows that melted ice, some would call it water, simply does not warrant doggie boots—unless your dog is a real sissy. Redundant phrasing aside, do dogs really need shoes? Was Old Yeller was so vocal because his paws were hurting? Would Lassie have saved more children in wells if she were wearing Nike Shox?
I’ve been a fish owner my entire life and for the countless times I’ve watched them knock into the glass in the hopes that it would lead to ever flowing freedom, I’ve never considered giving them helmets. The thought of putting a helmet on a fish’s head, no matter how cute, did not, I assure you, cross my mind until now—until I was brainwashed by the pet people. Imagine a world where tiny fish helmets weren’t just a fashion statement but a necessity and you’d be imagining a world that I don’t want to live in.
Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, are you getting all this?
One must remember that dogs are different than fish. Dogs live with us. They play with us. They connect with their owners and create everlasting bonds. And even the beastliest of canines have human-like qualities. Many owners go so far as to allow their dogs to sleep in bed with them at night. Now, however, thanks to entrepreneurial pet product developers, dogs can kick back and relax on their own human-like home furnishings.
Wasting my day beyond all recognition and reading page after page of dog shoe propaganda eventually brought me to the site, PetFutons.net. The homepage proudly proclaims “Real Futon Beds For Your Pet!” Let me clarify here; we’re talking about futons for dogs. Not beds. Not sleep pads. The collegiate cousin to the couch has officially been admitted into the world of pet accessories – excuse me – necessities.
How many times has your dog needed a place for his buddy to crash after coming home late from the drinking bowl? Perhaps his old roommate from Obedience School is visiting with his new bitch and can’t afford a hotel. Not every dog has room in his doghouse for a couch and a bed. We’re not all owned by Paris Hilton. What is a dog to do? Thank you Pet Futon!
A major problem with all of the new doggie accouterment (if you haven’t crafted a 3-page list already) is the new set of rules that owners have to set for their dogs. Now, women have to remind more than just their husbands to keep their shoes off the couch while watching the game.
“Samson, I’ve told you a million times! No doggie shoes on the doggie futon! Sometimes I feel like we don’t even speak the same language. You’re such an animal!”
Spend a few hours on pet websites as I did and you’ll agree that scenes like an owner telling her dog to take his shoes off the couch aren’t too far fetched. These products are utterly weird displays of pet personification and consumerism gone wrong, plain and simple.
If you had talked to me a few weeks ago I would have told you that shoes for dogs and pet futons were about as logical as helmets for fish. So don’t baulk like I did when you start seeing more shoe-wearing dogs walking the streets, especially if you live in New York or come to visit. Literally dozens of pet pampering and product sites are springing up each day with new and twisted offerings, and pet owners are buying more than ever before. It’s only the beginning.
I can only imagine the king of weird Hunter Thompson right now; leaning forward on a lawn chair in heaven, blitzed on whiskey and acid tabs, grasping his shotgun, looking down anxiously on the pet-filled streets of New York City and yelling.
“Sweet Jesus, would you look at that! I just missed it!”