HIGHTOWER: Canine Consumerism

Time for another trip [Space music] into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today Spaceship Hightower takes you to the dogs ... into the strange world of people and their pets -- a place where pooches get pampered, no matter what the cost.Let's stop first at Waco, Texas, where Lanny Cawthon will do just about anything for his little "Sugar," a 1-year-old Maltese. In Lanny's living room, Sugar has her own dog-sized, fully-upholstered sofa, complete with her own floor lamp. Lanny lavishes luxuries on Sugar that would make many wives envious -- she has her perfume (Canine No. 5, I presume), a sterling silver and crystal necklace ... and Lanny is even having a tiny mink coat made for her.Lest you think Lanny is a little loopy, bear in mind that seven-out-of-ten pet owners say they think of their dogs, cats, birds, pot-bellied pigs and other animals as their children. Indeed, Mother Jones magazine reports that canine consumerism now totals $21 billion a year in our country, leading to a joke often heard at pet stores: Question: "Who's having children these days? Answer: People who can't afford dogs."Among the ways you can fritter away money on fido are:* Buy a 16-ounce box of Natural Gourmet Dog Snacks, which include stone-ground whole wheat flour, romano cheese and garlic -- $21 a box.* How about a shampoo and cut at PetCo -- $90 a clip.* Send your mutt to camp. for $1,500 a week, Sierra Mountain Doggie Camp provides swimming, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor fun, plus free airport pickup of your pooch.* And, of course, pet health insurance, which runs up to about $160 a year, with a $40 deductible for each visit to the vet.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Yeah, it's a dog's world out there ... if you can afford it.Source: "Some Texans give new meaning to creature comforts" by Christi Mays. Waco-Tribune Herald: Jan. 23, 1998."How Much is That Doggie ... " Mother Jones: March/April 1998. "Fido may need insurance" by Vicki Croke. New York Times News Service: Feb. 6, 1998.

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