When it was first documented in the 16th century, the expression, “It’s a dog’s life,” referred to a difficult or unpleasant life. Somewhere along the line, we’ve come to think of the phrase as alluding to a relaxed, pampered existence. How this occurred is unclear, but the evidence of our emotional and psychological attachment to our pets — and the lengths we’ll go to keep them happy and comfortable — never ceases to surprise and inspire us.
U.S. pet owners this year will spend almost twice as much as they did 10 years ago on their pets — an increase to $55 billion from $32 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association. In a 2011 survey, the organization found that more than 46 percent of U.S. households have a dog — which means 78 million pooches to be pampered.
And we’re ready to accommodate their needs and meld their lifestyle into ours. “People want items that are as aesthetically pleasing as everything else in their home,” says Robert Brugeman, owner of Cold Nose Warm Heart, a retailer with three desert locations. “If you’re going to train your dog to sleep in a bed, and you have to look at that bed every day, why not look at something that’s just as nice as the sofa it’s sitting next to?”
From fancy bowls to fashion-forward collars to designer furniture, our canine companions deserve the best of everything.
“Collars are as much an expression of the personality of the owner as they are the dog, so they come in hundreds of designs and colors,” Brugeman says. “Typically, the trends in collars mirror those in ready-to-wear, because people want to look coordinated with their pets.”
RN Design collars ($60-$105) feature intricate beadwork with myriad stones. “They have a very rock-and-roll feel and are interesting in a textural way,” Brugeman says.
Founded by a fashion designer, Dosha Dog ($30-$95) is known for its contemporary color palette. “The way they facet the stones in combination with bright colors gives the collars a very jeweled look,” Brugeman says. “They stand out against the color of the dog. Apple green looks fantastic on a black dog, and red is great on every breed.”
Soft, Ultrasuede collars by Susan Lanci ($60-$150) are perfect for teacup, toy, and miniature breeds. “Susan’s work is what I call ‘doggie couture,’ because it’s all cut to order,” Brugeman says. “She also makes hair bows, leashes, harnesses, carry bags, and little beds. So you can coordinate everything that your pet is wearing with what they sleep on and what you carry them around in.”
Bowser Pet Products carries a large array of beds and other accessories. Its Contour Lounger ($249) is covered in Sunbrella fabric for indoor and outdoor use. “It has a really contemporary silhouette for the Palm Springs customer who has a modern home,” Brugeman says. “People are looking for things that are well designed but also functional.”
With its brushed-nickel finish and black microvelvet fabric, the Moderno ($700-$800), also by Bowser, brings a modern Mies van der Rohe feel to any room. If your taste runs more to French Regency style, the Canape Baron Haussan ($3,900) from Puppy de Paris is très chic, while Art Deco fans might gravitate toward Frontgate’s Deco Pet Bed ($279).
Art Deco rules with the Deco Bed from Frontgate. COURTESY FRONTGATE
Stainless-steel bowls are popular for their sanitary qualities. “Unleashed Life has caught people’s eye with some unusual designs that are very sturdy,” Brugeman says. “The Bruno echoes a classic spiked collar that says ‘dog’ without having dog written on the bowl.” The bowls are priced at $64, $84, and $96.
The High-Rise bowl ($48, $84, and $129) — available in nickel and white — is great for larger breeds; it prevents the dog from hyperextending its neck while eating. “And while it serves a useful purpose for the pet, the clean lines echo the utilitarian simplicity of modern furniture and modern homes,” Brugeman says.