Pampered pets raking it in this holiday season |

Pampered pets raking it in this holiday season

Rebecca Waddingham

Dogs – our best friends, running companions and sometimes surrogate children – were not designed, intelligently or otherwise, to be lazy.Through 200,000 years of co-evolution, however, dogs – especially in the last 200 years, what scientists might call canis americani, American dogs – have become second perhaps only to humankind in episodes of indulgent inactivity.OK, cats are lazy, too.But the creatures whose ancestors joined primitive man at his fire and were used for hunting assistance and protection might, more than any animal, be superb examples of the human race’s ability to devolve.What is behind this canine wimpification? Why are dogs, once-proud beasts of the wild, made to wear cutesy sweaters, be carried in Paris-Hilton-esque pink bags and forced to sport jingly reindeer-eared headgear at Christmastime?For some people, dressing up their pets is actually utilitarian. On a recent night, Debbie Appelhans crouched on the floor of PetSmart in Greeley, trying to fit her 7-week-old red Siberian husky with a coat.”I’ve noticed her shivering, so I decided to buy her something for it,” Appelhans said.Wearing a pink fleece coat with a stitched bone motif, Bailey, a puppy, flopped down on the floor and leaned against Appelhans’ purse. Appelhans said Bailey will soon outgrow her new jacket, but she didn’t seem worried.”It’s like with kids,” Appelhans said.Jennie Jamtgaard, a professor at Colorado State University who has a doctorate in zoology and is a dog behaviorist, said a jacket or booties for a dog isn’t simply cute – especially in the recent freezing weather. It’s probably a good idea.”There are certain dogs that don’t have the coat to be outside (in the cold),” she said. Other dog owners are less … practical.Megan Kemp’s long-haired Chihuahua, Louie, has plenty of Fido Fleece jackets to keep him warm, but he also sometimes sports a lambskin jacket, doll-sized sweaters from Hobby Lobby, hats, a spa robe, even a king’s crown with blue rhinestones.Kemp estimates she spends between $50 and $100 a month spoiling Louie.”I would spend anything on my dog,” she said. “He’s worth it.”He’ll also have a stuffed stocking this Christmas. Louie especially wants a miniature couch for Christmas this year, Kemp said with a laugh.Jamtgaard said while accessorizing might be fun, the best way to love a dog isn’t just to buy it clothes or things that we might find adorable.”Do some training with them,” she said. “There is a philosophy of dog owning that is good for the human and the dog to think about – the idea that nothing in life is free. Dogs will work harder and be happier in that sort of structured environment.”Vail, Colorado

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