We’ve all gone bark­ing mad

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Dog shop­ping at this sum­mer’s coun­try shows has of­ten been more tempt­ing than that for hu­mans. There are el­e­gant ce­ramic bowls in neu­tral colours, soft wool blan­kets with em­broi­dered edg­ing that cost up to £200, or­ganic bis­cuits pack­aged in taste­ful hes­sian bags, tar­tan quilted jack­ets and beds, wo­ven col­lars from Ar­gentina and an in­fi­nite va­ri­ety of squidgy, squeaky mon­keys and pheas­ants made from eco-friendly ma­te­ri­als (page 63).

There are even spe­cial dog bak­eries cre­at­ing or­ganic treats—one makes ‘woofins’ with yo­ghurt ic­ing in its ‘petis­serie’, an­other duck-and-mango ‘calmers’—and a ca­nine vis­i­tor to our game Fair stand was poured re­frig­er­ated bot­tled wa­ter rather than tap. own­ers can now at­tend classes in dog ca­ter­ing as well as obe­di­ence and puppy-train­ing.

Food writer Deb­ora Robert­son says she’s em­bar­rassed to ad­mit to tak­ing as much trou­ble with her bor­der ter­rier’s lamb-an­d­len­til stew as she would for a din­ner party (page 52), but there’s noth­ing wrong with feed­ing your pet prop­erly—poor nu­tri­tion is one of the cru­ellest er­rors that own­ers can make, con­demn­ing dogs to a life of wad­dling, pant­ing, bad breath, pain and pre­ma­ture age­ing.

The UK’S pet in­dus­try is worth bil­lions. Char­i­ties worry that the un­stop­pable mar­ket for de­signer ac­ces­sories will en­cour­age the un­wise pur­chas­ing of de­signer dogs to go with them, of­ten from dis­rep­utable breed­ers or the in­ter­net. More pos­i­tively, per­haps all this lav­ish­ing of love might shame care­less own­ers; even in these doggy-ori­en­tated times, in­dis­crim­i­nate breed­ing and aban­don­ment re­main prob­lem­atic, de­spite height­ened aware­ness and tighter laws.

How­ever, no ex­pen­sive cush­ion can com­pen­sate for a dog’s dispir­it­ing hours of lone­li­ness and bore­dom; what your pet wants more than any­thing is to be with you and to feel se­cure. For­tu­nately, this dogs-first cul­ture is in­creas­ingly per­vad­ing ho­tels, restau­rants, shops, of­fices and hol­i­day-cot­tage providers and there’s bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of guide and com­pan­ion dogs.

The pet pass­port has changed things, too. Nu­mer­ous dogs will take a French hol­i­day via the Euro­tun­nel or the ferry this month —for those that can’t ac­com­pany the fam­ily, there’s the boom­ing in­dus­try of en­light­ened dog-sit­ting, in which ev­ery ef­fort is made to pre­vent home-sick­ness.

‘Man’s best friend’ may have be­come an over-used phrase, but at least it’s now eas­ier to treat your dog as ex­actly that.

‘Per­haps all this lav­ish­ing of love might shame care­less dog own­ers

Pine­hurst II, Pine­hurst Road, Farn­bor­ough Busi­ness Park, Farn­bor­ough, Hamp­shire GU14 7BF Tele­phone 01252 555072 www.coun­trylife.co.uk

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