Our answer is a qualified “yes” — but based on far different reasons than those being hammered away on by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and other Republicans.
The former presidential candidate from Minnesota said she thinks having a caretaker/dogwalker assigned to Bo is one example of lavish and excessive spending at the White House.
“We are also the ones who are paying for someone to walk the president’s dog — paying for someone to walk the president’s dog,” she said over the weekend (serving as her own echo).
Bachman, who has a beagle named Boomer, made the remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, held just outside Washington .
We, too, think the president should walk his dog — not as a money-saving measure, but because we think those peaceful moments of solace and reflection (assuming Bo is not a tugger) will make him a better president.
Walking the dog not only clears the head, it reminds one of what’s important in life. It’s good for the brain, it keeps the blood circulating, it lets you smell the roses and it calms the soul. I want a president with a calm soul, or at least as calm as the office permits.
While I think Obama and family should walk their own dog at every opportunity, I find nothing wrong with the White House having a full time dog walker on staff — even if, as some not 100 percent confirmed reports suggest, it”s a $100,000- a-year position.
(Also, I offer to fill that position should it ever become vacated — or even on a fill-in basis.)
As reported on the CNN blog, Political Ticker, Bachman, in her speech, blasted what she called “a lifestyle that is one of excess.”
“Now we find out that there are five chefs on Air Force One. There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theater … They regularly sleep at the White House in order to be regularly available in case the first family wants a really, really late show. And I don’t mean to be petty here, but can’t they just push the play button?”
The Obamas, though always very well dressed, don’t strike me as lavish, and I don’t think Bo experiences the same amenities of, say, Queen Elizabeth’s corgis.
Our nation’s First Dog deserves, at least in some ways, royal treatment — even amid all the fiscal cliffs and sequesters that, dramatic as they are, were created by lavishly living (often) politicians out of touch with the real world.
Dogs help keep the word real. I want my president to keep it real. So I want my president to walk the dog whenever possible.
If it comes down to tending to a world crisis and taking Bo outside to pee, by all means, tend to the world crisis, and let the highly paid dogwalker handle the duty, as well as the doody.
(My far bigger questions about all this are whether the Obamas personally scoop Bo’s poop from the White House lawn, and whether Bachmann picks up Boomer’s droppings at her home, valued at $1.27 million, on the 18th hole of the Stoneridge Golf Course.)
Grabbing and bagging a handful of feces is how you keep it really, really real.
But back to our main point. Routine and mundane as the task might seem, there is much to be gained from time spent walking your own dog. (Just ask Leon Panetta.)
In trying times, when the head gets too clogged by all the stress, there is no better way to return it to a state of reason and clarity than the simple pleasure of walking the dog – whether you’re a queen, a president, an assembly line worker, or even unemployed.
(Photos: Bo and the president, official White House photo by Pete Souza; Michele and Marcus Bachmann, with Boomer, AP photo by Craig Lassig)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, barack, bo, bo obama, dog, dog walker, dog walking, dogs, first dog, first family, fiscal cliff, lavish, lifestyle, michele bachmann, obama, pets, politics, poop, president, republicans, scoop, sequester, spending, taxes, taxpayers, walking, white house, who walks bo
Growing numbers of pet owners are seeking bargains and shunning opulent items as the $87 billion pet product market — still surviving the recession better than most — is showing some signs of slowing down.
So reports Business Week, citing surveys that show more families are cutting back on pet spending, particularly when it comes to luxury items.
Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September survey by Packaged Facts said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010; and three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys.
“The totally discretionary stuff is increasingly being cast aside,” said Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor. “People still want to spend a fair bit of money on their pets, but they are reevaluating their priorities.”
Retailers such as PetSmart and Petco are turning to promotions to keep customers from defecting to discount stores like Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., but that comes with a cost. Discounts caused PetSmart’s profit margins on merchandise to narrow last quarter for the first time in two years, according to David Strasser, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in New York.
“Our industry is not recession-proof — we’re recession flexible,” said Leo Sanders, the owner of a grooming and boarding business in Corning, New York. “People will still spend, but instead of frivolous spending on squeakers and rawhide bones, now they are reading labels and making sure it’s a quality product. And they’re asking for discounts more.”
Joanne Mahon, managing director of Diamond Dogs in the U.K., said sales of the company’s diamond leash and collar combinations, and other upscale items, dropped as much as 25 percent last year. And Joan Volpe, managing coordinator at the Center for Professional Studies at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, said tighter household budgets have had a “sobering effect” on pricey pet apparel, such as that unveiled in its annual pet fashion show.
“There has been a turn to practicality,” Volpe said. “The seemingly frivolous items of just a few years ago like net tutus are no longer in demand.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accessories, bargains, discounts, economy, food, industry, items, luxury, pet, pet products, pet smart, petco, pets, products, recession, retail, sales, spending, stores, surveys
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul portrays himself as a Rottweiler, and his opponents as shih tzus, in a new campaign ad.
The ad, being broadcast in both Iowa and New Hampshire, is called “Big Dog,” and it accuses the other candidates of being all bark and no bite when it comes to cutting government spending.
“Testosterone-laden,” the Des Moines Register called it.
While his opponents may whine “like little shih tzus,” Ron Paul, according to the ad, will pounce on out of control federal government spending, cutting it by $1 trillion in the first year and eliminating five federal agencies.
As we’ve been telling you in this series, dogs are being used like never before to sway public opinion — and we wouldn’t be surprised if other candidates seized on the dog theme, portraying themselves, or their opponents as particular breeds.
Imagine the possibilities: Rick Perry as a well-groomed but oblivious Afghan hound; Michele Bachmann as a flighty Irish setter; Mitt Romney as a collie, programmed to, when he’s not riding on the top of cars, save people who have fallen into wells; Rick Santorum as a Presa Canario-Chihuahua mix; Newt Gingrich as a grumpy old bulldog; Herman Cain as a frisky pointer who missed his neutering appointment.
In a way, I hate to see dogs dragged into something as sleazy as politics, but with dogs being used to sell everything from toilet paper to insurance, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
(All of our Woof in Advertising selections can be found archived here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, afghan hound, animals, bark, big dog, big dog ad, bite, breeds, bulldog, campaign, candidate, chihuahua, collie, dogs, dogs in advertising, election, government, herman cain, irish setter, michele bachman, mitt romney, newt gingrich, pets, pointer, politics, presa canario, presidential, republican, rick perry, rick santorum, ron paul, rottweiler, shih-tzu, spending, stereotypes, woof in advertising
I am not strictly opposed to dressing dogs up for Halloween.
But I wonder whether we’ve gone overboard. I question how much dogs enjoy it, and why and how, with the economy we have, Americans were willing and able to fork over an estimated $310 million to decorate their dogs for the holiday.
As noted in The Village Voice:
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $6.68 billion on Halloween this year. Included in that sum is an astounding $310 million spent on costumes for people’s pets. Give Americans credit: We can suffer through a recession, gross economic turmoil, a foreclosure epidemic, and a tepid stock market, but we sure as shit aren’t skimping on the dog costumes.
What if, even just for one year, we declared a moratorium on doggie costumes and instead used that $310 million to make America, or the world, a better place for dogs — used it on dog parks, or spaying and neutering, or emergency veterinary treatment, or furthering adoptions, or more humane alternatives to the gas chambers many animal control departments are still using for euthanasia?
“Halloween is my favorite holiday because it makes me infinitely happy to see dogs in costumes,” Nikki Moustaki writes on her blog, MUTTerings. “It’s the time of year when passionate dog owners let their dogs’ inner ballerina, bumblebee, or princess shine.”
Nikki’s infinite happiness aside — and on top of the hazards some costumes can pose – there’s something to be said for letting a dog be a dog, even on Halloween, as opposed to ballerina or bumblebee.
Much as it makes us smile, chuckle and go awwwwww, Humans should not get their kicks at the expense of a dog’s suffering, or even discomfort.
I’m sure most responsible pet owners are careful, ensuring that what they’re dressing their dog in/as is a safe costume that won’t constrict their pet’s breathing, or contain little pieces that can be chewed off or choked on.
But the increasing trendiness of dog costuming ensures that there will be an increasing number of pet owners who aren’t thinking things through.
And physical hazards aside, there’s also the stress factor. Some dogs may relish the attention, and happily tolerate a costume, but many only get stressed out when festooned with an elaborate get-up.
Ironically, one of the biggest promoters of costuming dogs — after the companies that sell costumes, and the websites that thrive on presenting pictures of dogs as something other than dogs — are local shelters and humane societies.
Rare is the fundraising event that doesn’t feature a doggie costume contest, which is understandable, given they are such crowd pleasers.
I’m not a total party pooper. Putting a dog who doesn’t stress out about it in a simple and safe costume, for a short while — long enough to get your laughs, snap your pictures and post them on Facebook — is fine.
But leaving them in it for hours, leaving them in it unattended, leaving them in it when they are clearly upset about it? That’s where it all enters the arena of, maybe not animal cruelty, but animal disrespect.
The hazards of Halloween, for dogs, go beyond the costuming. It, like the 4th of July, is a prime times for dogs to get loose and run away. In Rochester, N.Y., police fatally shot a Rottweiler who was scaring trick-or-treaters.
And then there are the treats. Chocolate, as we all should know by now, can be toxic to dogs, and xylitol — an ingredient found in gum and other treats — can sicken and kill them as well.
Other than all that, Happy Halloween!
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 310 million, animal welfare, animals, chocolate, comfort, contests, costume, costumes, discomfort, dog, dog blogs, dogs, dressing, fad, halloween, happy halloween, hazards, humane societies, killed, letting dogs be dogs, moratorium, pets, police, popularity, rottweiler, run away, safety, shelters, shot, spending, stress, trending, trick or treat, xylitol
Americans may be cutting corners to cope with the crappy economy, but spending on pets appears healthy as ever, at least according the the American Pet Products Association’s latest report and poll.
Pet ownership is at an all-time high of 72.9 million households — about two of every three households, according to survey results released Monday.
The total number of pets — including 78 million dogs and 86.4 million cats– represents a 2.1 percent increase over last year, according to UPI.
The APPA’s annual report showed Americans spent more than $48 billion on their pets in 2010, an increase of of 6.2 percent over 2009, and it anticipates spending could top $50 billion in 2011.
The biggest surge in spending is expected to be in the area of veterinary care, with the APPA estimating $14 billion will be spent by pet owners in 2011.
More than 15 percent of dog owners, in fact, said their animal’s medical treatment would take priority over their own, according to a Reuters report on the poll.
Spending on treats, toys and accessories was up a reported 30 percent, from $56 million to $73 million. And the cost of buying a dog has also spiked from $121 to $364 due to the increased price of pure breeds.
“The pet industry continues to see unprecedented growth,” said APPA President Bob Vetere. “The survey reveals pet owners are willing to spend money on their pets despite a downturn in the economy.”
(Photo: Money sculpture by Justine Smith. To see more of her art visit justinesmith.net)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, american pet products association, americans, animals, appa, cats, dogs, economy, industry, pet, pet industry, pets, poll, products, spending
Rolling into Maine, about the same time fall decided to, we’ve decided to lay low in Portland a few days, dry out from our camping experience and perform a little maintenance — on the new website, the car, the dog and myself — before we head into the remote, northernmost reaches of Maine.
Among those things needing to be dealt with: broken eyeglasses, dirty laundry, a shaggy and unkempt appearance (me, not Ace), and a seriously moldy smell in the car. In addition to all the wet stuff that had been riding in the back of the car for two days — I halfway expected to look back there and see Ace amid a field of mushrooms – there was still more wet stuff atop my car in my leaky rooftop carrier.
So we pulled into (you guessed it) a Motel 6 and got to work on our top priorities — for Ace, scoping out possible sources of treats; for me, doing something about the small lake that had formed inside the black plastic rooftop bag.
I decided a new rooftop carrier would be a good investment, because without it, Ace would be riding amid a mountain of camping gear, luggage and other miscellany. I hoped to get a carrier with a hard shell — one that would be easy to get stuff in and out of, and one I wouldn’t have to tie down with ropes and bungee cords.
I left Ace in the room and headed to the Sears auto center at the Maine Mall. While they had the hard-shelled carriers, they didn’t have the hardware necessary to attach it to my luggage rack, so I ended up with another soft one.
Since I was already there, I decided to get the oil change I’ve been postponing, and asked them to check my tires.
After a quick bite in the mall’s food court, I went into the Pro Vision Center, asking them to accomplish what I could not – at least not without wearing my glasses, which one can’t do when they’re trying to reinsert that little screw that secures the temple to the front of the frames. They did it in two minutes, and charged me nothing, an act for which, by the end of the day, I would be even more thankful.
Sears called to tell me my car needed some realignment, and that my brake pads were wearing thin (which explains that squeak I’d been hearing.) I opted to have the back ones replaced and let the front ones live out what little life they have left.
That meant I had more time to kill, so I stopped for a quick and drastic (at my request) haircut, and — because the temperatures are dipping up this way and I brought no winter clothes along — bought a jacket at J.C. Penney. I opted for a black microfiber bomber jacket, though I plan no actual bombing in the near future and I have no idea what microfiber actually is.
From there, I picked up Ace so he could tag along for my next chores: doing the laundry, emptying and removing my old carrier and throwing everything that was wet into dryers – shoes, pillows, sleeping bag and tarps included. Despite my efforts, my workboots and a pair of sandals still had strange fungi growing on them, so I disposed of them, along with the old and holey black plastic carrier and the massive amounts of dog hair left after I gave Ace a good Furminating.
When I tallied what I spent — $10 lunch, $15 at the laundromat, $20 (counting tip) for haircut, $40 for a jacket, $10 for batteries at Radio Shack and a whopping, but not unfair $473 at the Sears auto center — it added up to almost $600. Ouch.
And this just when we were completing the most frugal month yet of our travels.
In month four, we, for the first time, were headed for spending less than $1,000 for our food, gas and lodging combined — thanks mainly to staying still in Baltimore for a bit, and freeloading off friends both there and in Philadelphia.
September saw us spend only seven nights in motels, two at a campground, one in a car, 10 in the homes of friends and 10 on the boat of a friend. All tolled, we spent only $400 on shelter, only $240 on gas and about $300 on food. (Knowing we were saving money elsewhere, we treated ourselves to some nicer dinners than usual.)
Perhaps I need some lessons in frugality from the people of Maine, who, according to the stereotype anyway, have adjusted to living in a state where incomes fall far behind the rest of New England. The state’s farmers and fishermen are accustomed to an up and down economy, and know how to make ends meet during the downs.
This afternoon, while walking Ace behind the Motel 6, I noticed a group of four young people. One jumped into the Dumpster and tossed cans and glass and plastic bottles up to his cohorts.
They left with a full sack.
Frugality, they say, is a tradition here — though one can be both frugal and generous.
Take Gordon, who is temporarily living down on the first floor. He’s been a Motel 6-ite for more than two weeks.
He seems to limit his luxury purchases to treats for the dogs he meets at the motel and his daily cigar, which he steps outside to smoke, disposing of his stogies in an ashtray on the side of the building.
He spends much of the day sitting in the small lobby, handing out treats and making friends with the dogs who pass by. He plans to stay a couple of more weeks before going to visit some family in northern Maine.
If he ever needs to figure out exactly how many days he has been in this Motel 6, I know how he can do it. Just step outside and count the stogies.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, auto, brakes, budget, camping, car, cigars, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, expenses, freeloading, frugal, frugality, generosity, maine, maine mall, maintenance, mall, money, motel 6, motels, pets, portland, repairs, road trip, spending, stogies, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
A majority of pet owners would pay $500 for life-saving veterinary care, but less than half would fork over $1,000, only a third would spend $2,000, and only about 20 percent would be willing to pay $5,000.
So says an Associated Press-Petside.com poll about the cost of health care for animals, conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.
Only at the $500 level were dog owners (74 percent) more likely than cat owners (46 percent) to say they would likely seek treatment. In the higher price ranges, the two are about equally likely to seek vet care.
“Euthanasia is always sad but when finances have to be considered, when you feel there is a possibility you didn’t or couldn’t do the right thing, you feel guilty,” said veterinarian Jane Shaw, director of the Argus Institute in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. “We are at a point where we are talking about basic life needs or survival needs.”
One in five pet owners said they fret a lot about being unable to afford seeing a vet. Dog owners are more likely to worry than cat owners, and low-income people are among the biggest worriers, which is probably because they have the biggest worries.
About one in four people, or 27 percent, said pet insurance is a good way to save money on vet bills, though only about 5 percent of pet owners actually have it.
The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010, and involved phone interviews with 1,112 pet owners nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afford, affording, animals, ap, associated press, care, cats, cost, dogs, euthanasia, expense, health, insurance, medical, news, pet owners, pets, petside.com, poll, spend, spending, surgery, vet, veterinarian, veterinary
Most Americans say they plan to spend less for holiday gifts this year, but a new poll indicates the family dog is even more likely than last year to find something under the tree.
Sixty percent of dog owners — more women than men — plan to buy their pooch a holiday gift, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll. About 40 percent of cat owners planned on shopping for their pet for the holidays, the poll said.
All in all, 52 percent of pet owners plan to buy their animals a holiday gift — up from 43 percent last year.
The increase in pet gifts comes despite the fact that 93 percent of Americans say they plan to reign in spending on gifts this season, according to a separate AP poll.
According to the AP-Petside.com poll, 62 percent of female owners said they would probably buy their pet a gift, while just 40 percent of the men said they would.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, associated press, cats, christmas, dog, dogs, economy, families, gifts, holidays, pet, pet owners, pets, petside.com, poll, spending
India, home to nearly half of the world’s hungry, has seen a surge in pricey dogs (including pugs, like the one pictured, featured in the advertising of a cell phone company, Vodaphone) and pricey dog goods and services.
it’s not uncommon for wealthy families to spend more on imported dog food in a week than the weekly budget of the 420 million Indians officially classified as poor.
Pets are becoming big business in India, and predictions are that the industry will continue to experience annual growth of 10-15 percent, Agence France-Presse reports — even though about 40 percent of India’s population lives below the global poverty line of less than $1.25 a day.
India’s pet industry is valued at around $45 million dollars annually, according to the research firm Euromonitor, compared to the annual $40 billion dollars of the U.S. market.
Experts say that thanks to the economic boom of the past decade, pets have become status symbols in a society that is seeing shifts in its family structure.
“Often both parents work and there’s no longer any grandparents around for the children to come home to, only the maid,” said Linda Brady Hawke, publisher of Indian pet care magazine Creature Companion. “An animal is something which will greet the children with love,” she said.
Among the breeds seeing increasingly popularity are Great Danes, dalmatians, Afghan hounds and pugs, which soared in popularity after one was featured in a mobile phone TV advertisement.
Labradors and golden retrievers have shown staying power, with owners willing to spend up to 300,000 rupees (6,000 dollars) for a championship-level imported purebred specimen — and to leave the air-conditioning on so thick-coated breeds such as giant St. Bernards won’t perish in the summer heat, the article says.
Money’s not an object, either, with many clients of ScoobyScrub, offering such services as “full body massage” and hair streaking, which can cost up to 1,000 rupees, more than most maids earn in a week.
“Families want to spend more on pets whether it’s branded foods or toys — that’s part of the ‘humanization’ process” of the animal, said Euromonitor researcher Yvonne Kok.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghan hounds, animals, dalmatians, dog, dogs, great danes, india, industry, luxury, new delhi, pampering, pet products, pets, pugs, purebreds, spending
An American Kennel Club survey has found that Americans are willing to sacrifice their own needs to better care for their dogs.
For those of us who have been doing that for years now, that’s not exactly big news. But perhaps — given the state of the economy — it bears repeating.
Here are some of the highlights:
– 96 percent of respondents would forego their daily latte to save money for their dog’s expenses.
– 97 percent said they would forego massages or spa treatments in order to afford a vet bill.
– 79 percent would cancel a teeth whitening appointment so their dog could have an annual teeth cleaning.
– 65 percent would regularly eat Ramen noodles before they would skimp on their dog’s high quality food.
– 59 percent would perm or color their own hair in the kitchen sink in order to keep Fido’s appointments at the groomers.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 9th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, americans, cutback, dedication, dog, dogs, economy, financial, gifts, holidays, latter, pet care, pets, products, ramen noodles, sacrifice, spending, survey