(Reuters) - Leading “a dogs life” has taken on an entirely new meaning for some of today’s lucky canines who live in the lap of luxury, benefiting from a modern pet boom.
Here are some facts about how life is changing for some dogs around the world who are treated as adored family members rather than humble pets.
— The United States has the world’s biggest pet dog population (61 million) followed by Brazil (30 million) and China (23 million), according to 2006 estimates. Pet-related businesses flourish in economic boom times - with pet insurance companies, grooming parlors and even international trade organizations like Pet Sitters International, which has 7,400 members, taking root as dog care becomes a full-time career.
— Traditional dog-only names like Rover and Spot are falling out of favor. Many dogs are now more likely to be given human names, in a move analysts says reflects dogs’ new status as family members. In pet-mad Japan, traditional names such as Aiko (little love, beloved) and Eriko (child with a collar), are facing some competition from popular English names. New York’s top five dog’s names were Max, Lucky, Princess, Rocky and Buddy, according to a 2005 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene listing of registered dogs names.
— With new designs gracing dedicated pet magazines from Beijing to Sydney, dog coats are no longer just for cities whose temperatures plummet below zero. Runway shows, design awards and specials events are all part of the Pet Fashion Week’s campaign to “foster design and innovation” in pet jewellery, collars, leashes, bedding, fragrances and grooming products according its website. Launched in New York in August 2006 to coincide with the holiday buying season, it hires “beautiful dog models” to showcase designer items.
— Web-savvy canines have infiltrated human online networking sites like Friendster and Facebook to set up profile pages where they can instant message pet friends and post photos and videos over recent years. By November 2006 two Friendster-parodying animal-only sites, Dogster.com, and Catster.com, had attracted more than 300,000 members, bagged US$1 million in funding, and earned thousands in profit mainly through advertising.
Sources: Reuters, Dogster, (www.dogster.com), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, (www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2006/pr122-06.shtml), Pet Food Institute, (www.petfoodinstitute.org/petfoodhistory.htm), Pet Sitters international (www.petsit.com), Pet Fashion Week, (petfashionweek.com), Global pet dog populations for 2006, (www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-most-pet-dog-p