On Funny Stuff and Gifts for Pets
First, I’ve got to tell you an awesome string of words someone used to find me earlier today: are vegans communists?
I don’t know about any of you vegans out there, but twenty years ago I got that question all the time. Also, try telling someone you don’t believe in god and see how long it takes for them to ask if you’re a communist.
Next, a business acquaintance, who clearly hasn’t been paying attention, sent me a gift marked "Perishable" yesterday. Quite a large styrofoam box. Inside was dry ice marked "Handle Only While Wearing Gloves," at which point my husband put his hand on it and nearly burned off his fingerprints and he just might be scarred for life. Under the ice was a small box (small compared to the colossal outer box), containing, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, twelve filet mignon medallions from Pfaelzer Brothers ("Gourmet foods of the finest quality"). You just can’t make this stuff up!
But wait, there’s more . . . .
The next box (from a different person) contained gourmet cheeses (I’m not even sure what that means). Maybe I’ll make cheese encrusted filet for Christmas. No chance!
All parties will be getting a thank you card explaining my choice to demonstrate nonviolence at each meal.
In keeping with not being (too) negative, check out "Ultimate Creature Comforts," by Ylan Q. Mui in today’s Washingtonpost.com. The premise is simple: People are spending lots of cash (like $40.8 billion) on gifts for their pets (mostly dogs, who will stand for being dressed up like little furry people. Try doing that to a cat.). But there’s more to the article than that, thank heavens.
- People are sending out Christmas cards from their pets. Now, I received a handful of cards with animals rather than people on them (from the child-free people). But they’re supposed to be from the people, not the dogs.
- "It’s no longer comfortable to reward these animals in pet terms," said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, a trade group. Now the thinking is, "My dog means so much to me that I have to give him something that means something to me," he said.
Bingo. This is about people, not pets.
- "Tracy Ryan, an associate professor of advertising research at Virginia Commonwealth University who has studied pet gifts, said owners have three main motivations, which mirror the roles we take on when giving to each other.
Most commonly, owners want to make their pets happy, or they feel a responsibility to provide for their pet’s needs, she said. But a surprising minority of people gave gifts to compensate for a guilty conscience, such as not walking the pet enough or not being able to spend time with it."
It. At least people are feeling obligated to provide for the needs of the Its they buy. I’m not sure how stupid gifts provide for any needs, though. As far as the "surprising minority," I’m unclear whether the minority part is surprising or if it’s surprising that people have guilty consciences (but not to worry because those people are in the minority). My observation would say that people buy gifts to make their dogs even more of a status symbol and that the majority of them are compensating for not actually meeting the exercise and stimulation needs of the dogs. My experience is loaded with examples of pure breeds who eat Ziwipeak (which is $4.00/can for dogs and $2.50/can for cats and Emily-the-non-pure breed LOVES it), but who don’t ever go for a walk (the only outside experiences they get are in their teensy backyards). These are mostly small dogs I’m talking about, and they sit in their Louis Vuitton bags while their mommies shop at Neiman Marcus, they go for lattes at Starbuck’s (they do have to sit outside, though), they go everywhere with their moms in their Mercedes or Land Rover and they dine al fresco at the many cafes here with seating outside. But they don’t run, they rarely exercise, and they’ve never seen a dog park so they’re not socialized and they’re a total yippy menace when they see another dog while they’re being trotted around town.
The moral of the story? Cesar Millan is right about one thing: our dogs may not be wanting for affection, but they’re wanting for exercise and stimulation. My dogs don’t wear collars (collars freak me out) inside the house and they have the same ones and the same leashes that the Greyhound adoption people gave me years ago. Here’s what they’re getting for Christmas: after their regular 45 minute morning walky, they’re going to the beach for an hour to run like the wind and chase the waves. There’s no chic gift in the world that can beat that.