It's not unusual to shower our loved ones with gifts, services and other niceties. These days, however, our caring and catering ways extend even to the furry friends in our household.
In the last decade, more people have set aside time, money and effort to pamper their beloved pets. From fashionable apparel to luxurious beds, gourmet treats and fanciful toys, a pet's modern creature comforts are many.
According to the American Pet Products Association, the total U.S. pet industry expenditures will be estimated to total $52.87 billion by the end of 2012.
"We pamper our pets because our pets are really family members of ours," said Mylissa Yelich, a professional groomer and owner of At Your Bark 'N' Call in Crown Point. Yelich said many people today have no qualms about treating their furry family members as children and offering them the best that money can buy.
Through Yelich's business, customers can have their pets groomed, boarded and even take them for day care services, all in a cageless environment.
"I have 4,500 clients," Yelich said, adding her client base grew to that large amount in only a year and a half — quite the evidence that our pets are not neglected.
Even in a slumping economy, pets are provided for in great ways, the experts say.
"When times are tough, people seem to cling to the unconditional love that pets seem to bring," said Seth Richard, marketing director of Pet Planet Magazine.
Richard said the magazine focuses on all sorts of pets from "cats to cows." He added that pet ownership is at an all-time high right now.
According to a recent survey by American Pet Products Association, the number of households that own a dog are 46.3 million while 38.9 million own cats.
Take a look at the following ways canine lovers cater to their pooches. (Although cats and other creatures are certainly pampered, this article will put the focus on options for catering to dogs.) This is just a sample of what's available and merely claws at the surface of pampering possibilities.
FOR THE PLAYFUL, FASHIONABLE, AND HUNGRY POOCH
From squeaky stuffed characters to "educational-type" toys where dogs are encouraged to find undercover treats, the fun and games are plenty in the pooch marketplace.
And everyone from celebrities to bona-fide dog experts has jumped into the pet products pool. Rock star Bret Michaels recently introduced his Pets Rock collection at PetSmart, which features items such as Punk Skunk, Tour Bus Toy with Hide 'n' Seek Toys; Gingerbread Rope Toy; Cuddler Black and Pink Bed; Pink In the Band Sweater; Santa Tutu-Dress; Pleather Vest; a Rocker Jean Dress and much more.
Also at PetSmart, entertainment expert Martha Stewart offers everything from clothing and beds to toys, bowls, grooming supplies, leashes and other goodies. In the collection, pet parents will find a Red-layered Dress; Puffer Coat; Bomber Coat; Red Plaid Dress; 3 Ring Toy; Frisbee Toy; Snake in a Basket Toy; and other items. (FYI: petsmart.com)
Manufacturers of pet products haven't left any stone unturned when coming up with various ideas for your pet's comfort. Canine boutiques, big-box stores and websites have everything from dazzling clothing to furniture and treats for the coddled canine.
At Hungry Hound Boutique and Grooming in St. John, pet parents can purchase a variety of goodies from baked gourmet treats to apparel, toys, natural and raw foods and other indulgent items. Dogs can even have a spa experience with a blueberry vanilla facial, puppy polish and pawdicure. (FYI: Hungry Hound Boutique and Grooming, 8243 Wicker Ave., St. John; (219) 365-5543)
If you're looking for natural, human-grade quality food for your pooch, Lincoln Bark, a pet treat company based in Chicago, has what your dog craves. The company's founder Bobbye Cochran has come up with assorted offerings for pets including Sweet Little Butterpup dog treats; Treat Smart for dogs; and Doggie Sprinkles. The butterpup treats come in flavors such as salmon, pumpkin, and oatmeal. The treats are available online as well as in specialty boutiques and pet shops nationwide. (FYI: lincolnbark.com)
Check out these websites for more products for your furry friends:
• pamperedpetscatalog.com — Has everything from clothing to furniture
• baxterboo.com — Pet parents will find everything for their beloved dog from beds and fashion accessories to crates, gates, bowls, treats and even information on grooming, senior dogs and dog health
• inthecompanyofdogs.com — This website touts that it has "gear and gifts for dogs and the people who share their lives"
• dogchannel.com — Information, shopping opportunities and more are found here. Canine lovers also describe this as a type of Facebook for dogs where they can also have their very own web page
• poshpuppyboutique.com — Consumers will find designer dog apparel and accessories at this site. One can even shop by designer here, including Juicy Couture and Mochi & Jolie. Dog hairpins and shoes are also in the mix. The Posh Puppy Boutique provided the clothing used in the making of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2"
TRAVELING GOES TO THE DOGS:
If you're traveling and don't want to leave your precious pup behind, your dog can have a real downtown experience as well at various hotels around Chicago and the country.
The following are some options: (Always check for dog size and weight requirements.)
• The Peninsula Hotel, 108 E. Superior St., Chicago — At the Peninsula, furry friends can have a relaxing and extravagant time. Available for the four-legged family member are Rover Relaxation Massages, welcome amenities, dog sitting and dog walking services, doggie room service menus, pet beds, and water and food bowls. (FYI: (312) 337-2888)
• Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago — Canines will enjoy the experience with oversized deluxe beds, water and food bowls, and a bone-shaped collar with "I Woofed It Up at The Palmer House" on it. (FYI: (312) 726-7500)
• Hotel 71, 71 E. Wacker, Chicago — Call for specific dog-friendly services. (FYI: (312) 346-7100)
• Grand Geneva Resort, in Lake Geneva, Wis. — Dog-friendly services include a Pet Club, grooming, training, veterinary services, pet supplies, special menu items and more. (FYI: grandgeneva.com)
MISCELLANEOUS PAMPERING OPTIONS:
• At Your Bark 'N' Call, 1157 Erie Ct., Crown Point — The company offers grooming, day care and boarding services in a cageless, open environment. Dog suites are individually and specially decorated. The outside of the suites look like little houses. All groomers are certified. (FYI: (219) 663-3223)
• Canine Country Club, 3554 Sturdy Rd, Valparaiso — The private dog park is five acres and features various classes, dog training and special events. (FYI: cccdogpark.com)
• Dogtopia, 1830 45th Ave., Munster — The business offers day care, boarding and spa opportunities. (FYI: (219) 513-9520)
• Woof and Meow Pet Care - Offers dog walking services; pet sitting/vacation; and pet taxi service. (FYI: (219) 736-2891, ext. 1 or (219) 743-7951 or email email@example.com)