It’s Dog-Gone Love: Trinkets, Fashion and Urban Infrastructure for Dogs

Yes, a dog taxi for transporting dogs to kennel for temporary dog care, as one of their services. Husky dog peeps through window.Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Dog taxi and valet services for transporting them to kennel for temporary dog care. Husky dog peeps through window on a rainy day.Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong

A few months ago, I noticed within a 1 km radius from home, there were  4 dog-focused stores in our neighbourhood that ply canine wares and services to dog-lovers. After all, it’s human beings that purchase these goods and services, not dogs.

Rise of Bling for Dog Fashionistas
I’m certain that the propensity of dogs as household pets and family members hasn’t changed since my childhood.  What has increased now, is the amount of overt consumer behaviour manifested through canine object d’arts, trinkets, dogwear and even urban infrastructure to accommodate dogs in some cities.

Christmas festive canine wear with frills and red. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Deck your dog in festive Christmas canine wear with frills and cosy red. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong

As I mentioned in my last blog post, dog-leash free parks are helpful by allowing everyone to enjoy other parks free of running dogs while dogs can scamper happily in dog-designated parks with their owners smiling benignly from afar.

Paved Roundabout: Luxury Park Traffic Management for Dogs
But it almost seems wierdly luxurious for a municipality to design…a paved roundabout built expressly for dog-pedestrian-cycling traffic management in a dog free leash park corral.  Both sides of the bike-pedestrian path, are fenced and separated from the park.

Bike-pedestrian path with roundabout splits a fenced dog leash-free park. Dogs and owners do use it but traffic never congested. Fish Creek Park, Calgary AB 2012. Photo by J.Chong
Bike-pedestrian path with roundabout splits a fenced dog leash-free park. Dogs and owners do use it but path traffic never congested at this intersection. Sue Higgins Park, Calgary AB 2012. Photo by J.Chong

Meanwhile for cyclists in Calgary, the cycling infrastructure for a sprawling and growing city is inadequate on  road for safe cycling. Anyway, I digress.  As long as dog owners leash their dogs on a shorter leash, when they trot along a bike-pedestrian path, I’m fine.

Dogs in Gortex Vests and Flashing Jewellery
Back to apparel and bling for dog fashionistas and dog spa goodies.

Since I’ve never had a dog, one wonders if dogs need to be kitted out in woolly sweaters or mini-parkas during Vancouver’s balmy winters which are usually around -5 to -10 degrees C.  Snow on the mainland, in Vancouver is rare –where everyone lives

Dog catching a ride in bike carrier. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by J. Becker
Dog catching a ride in bike basket. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by J. Becker

with their dogs.  Not in the mountains.  Do dogs sweat if they wear light water resistant Gortex vests and jackets?  Mind you, if it’s reflective neon colours, it’s most helpful for pedestrians, cars and cyclists at night.

Chandelier-lit dog spa store in the neighbourhood. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Chandelier-lit dog spa store. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Chong. Fit for princely and queenly dogs.

Instead of  bejewelled dog collars, dogs are better off with funky blinking light jewellery

Twin doggies happy in the rear bike basket. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Becker
Twin doggies happy in the rear bike basket. Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Becker

so that everyone gets to see doggie and the flashing jewels at night. This type of dog-bling would be money better spent while also bedecking the dog almost like a Christmas tree or an emergency vehicle for safety’s sake.

Dog Hotel and Valet Services
With an increasingly mobile society where one moves away from a circle of family and trusted friends, kennels and dog “hotels” are a boon for owners who need to leave town for a few days or weeks but don’t bring along their dog.  I’m sure such services existed for a long time,

A dog hotel for dog stayovers, dog vacations while owner is away. Portland, Oregon 2012. Photo by J. Becker
Dog hotel (aka deluxe kennel) for dog stayovers and dog vacations while owner is away. Portland, Oregon 2012. Photo by J. Becker

but  for the first time, we caught glimpse of a dog taxi service.  Great idea for people with a sick dog where there is no car and may live in areas where dogs are not allowed on buses or transit.

No doubt there are other dog services and accoutrements which I haven’t seen  yet. For now, we’ll just observe the world of dogs where some cyclists ride with their puppy in their backpack, rear pannier or in their front handlebar basket.

Seatside view of the world. Seawall bike path, Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Becker
Seatside view of the world. Seawall bike path, Vancouver BC 2012. Photo by J. Becker
Hotel mascot dog has its own cushion dias near front door at high end hotel. Chateau Lake Louise in Canadian Rockies, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Hotel mascot dog has its own cushion dias near front door at high end hotel. Chateau Lake Louise in Canadian Rockies, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Backpacking the dog for bike ride. Calgary, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong
Backpacking the dog for bike ride. Calgary, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

 More Reading and Photos:
Chong, J.  Spa Pampering in a Dog’s Life: Bakeries, Bike Trailers and More. In Cycle Write Blog, Feb. 16, 2012.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post. It is ridiculous what’s spent on pets. And I love dogs (not much of a cat fan) and think pets are great company. Yet if we took what’s spent on animals and put it towards kids, imagine. We find when biking you can tell how affluent a town if by the number of fancy pet stores or pet spas in town.


    1. Jean says:

      I didn’t grow up in a pet household, so it is a bit unusual to lavish a lot of money. A good balance of dog-cat treatment and their family roles, was when my partner’s mother had a little terrier dog. She was a low income senior but kept dog fed, clean and well trained. Dog helped maintain her health, by requiring daily walks, gave her living company…and home security. She didn’t and couldn’t spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the dog’s health. So the dog naturally died after 18 yrs. I’ve heard of incredible health care bills for a dog to prolong their life.


  2. Ray Colon says:

    Hi Jean,

    I’ve never owned a dog, so the love affair that many people have with their pets escapes me. My wife and daughters love cats, so they’ve always been in our household (currently four), but living with them has not turned me into a pet lover. We simply co-exist.

    Watching people with their dogs, it’s easy to see that the affection that they have for their pets is genuine. There’s something there, so it’s not surprising that owners lavish gifts upon their pets. Some of those tokens of affection, as you’ve mentioned, benefit the dog, but most seem to benefit the owner. That’s okay, I suppose, as long as the gifts don’t end up harming the pets.

    From what I’ve seen, dogs are pretty good at avoiding danger, so I would think that they aren’t a hazard to cyclists. They seem to do fine running alongside and between the legs of horses without getting stepped on. This makes me think that a leashed dog may be more of a hazard to riders because their mobility is restrained. Does this jive with your experience?


    1. Jean says:

      A dog is to me, is just like any other living thing and humans too: as a cyclist I can’t expect them to understand noises of bell ringing and crunching tires behind them, to know which way to turn. So a leashed dog is preferable for a cyclist. I’ve passed by some incredibly well trained dogs, where the owner trained the dog to sit to the side of the bike-ped path as soon as a cyclist cycled nearby. Incredible.

      Then there are the loose guard dogs in the rural areas that dash out from the house. We’ve had some weird experiences in some rural areas of Canada where some people do not leash/confine their dogs at home. And we’re just cycling by with our loaded panniers.


  3. My dog has a jacket (first of our four dogs to do so) because it absolutely chucks it down here and it is silly for him to get wet a) for his health and b) for the amount of water he can displace in a small place when he shakes off.

    Balmy winters of -5 to -10?!!!! Old dogs are like old people and need a little more care, so sometimes he gets his jacket on when it is cold anyway. He has arthritis and what’s the point of him getting cold and wet and then coming into an unheated home to just not warm up?

    I loathe the designer dog market, but it sort of matches up with the pedigree Bichon Frisé market which seems to be the designer dog trend of the moment.

    There is a difference between having a dog that is a status symbol and buying a diamond collar for it (a bit like buying diamond pierced earrings – oh there is a new dog market opportunity – get your dogs ears pieced with diamond studs) and taking a rescue dog because you want to give an abandoned dog a home. I genuinely believe that both types of people love their dogs, but they are coming from very different mindsets.

    If you aren’t a dog person, it’s difficult to comprehend. A bit like not being a cat person. I’ve not grown up with cats, although would have rehomed a street cat here in Gib who was extremely feisty and very good looking. Have to say I am more of a dog lover though. Either you are or you aren’t.

    The roundabout is interesting. Like you, as a cyclist (although nothing like you as a cyclist) I have to say, I am wary of dogs shooting out in front of me. I’m guessing there are a lot of reasons for the segregation, insurance, peace of mind, safety, although insurance and claims comes tops.

    As there are more and more restrictions on our freedoms, leash free parks become inevitable. Pain in the neck actually in my opinion, but that’s for a different post. However, having made them available for dogs and their people, a local council can’t really run the risk of dog causing accident or cyclist causing accident.

    Pippa is the first dog we’ve ever given tablets to. It’s for his arthritis/atrophy. It’s not prolonging his life but it does give him better QUAL. I’m not really in favour of prolonging life, but that’s a hugely personal opinion, but I do think it is difficult to have a companion animal who is in pain and ignore it. Kill him, because he has arthritis? Would you do that with a person? Leave him in pain so he can hardly walk? Get nicked for being an irresponsible dog owner?


    1. Jean says:

      My partner was a dog person for the first 45 years of his life. He grew up with a dog from babyhood onward. He owned dogs with his ex and 2 children. His daughter loves and has pets (a dog, cat and 1 rabbit in a 1 small bedroom apartment of hers in the city).

      Afterwards he found his lifestyle (cycling and going on long trips. I work full time. He took early retirement.) just wasn’t as easy to have a dog. His allergies also got worse, so just dealing with dog hair, etc. wasn’t helpful. He talks fondly of a large sheepdog they had for 18 yrs. before she was allowed to naturally die. That was his favourite dog.

      Even he doesn’t understand his adult daughter who spent almost $1,000 dollars for her dog on various health bills in 1 situation. Meanwhile she has a university student loan debt to pay off…still after finishing university a decade ago. But all of this are her decisions and it needs to be this way: her financial decisions how she wishes to spend her money. She is an adult.

      Have you read George Orwell’s Pet Cemetary? Anyway, I went searching on the Internet just now. How um…almost creepy, a real pet cemetery in Hyde Park. Nothing wrong about having a private plot at home for a pet. But a public cemetery is admittedly very me.

      But on the flipside, having a happy, yet vigilant dog, is better for home security than…a gun.


  4. It is crazy the things you can get for pets! Dogs are one thing, but are you sitting down? My friend’s daughter had professional portrait photos taken of her ferret and carries wallet-sized ones around with her!


    1. Jean says:

      Ferrets do not turn me on …at all. I’m sure your friend must be gobsmacked how on earth her daughter had become attached to her ferret.

      It also bothers me to see a wild animal on a leash like that.


  5. I love the dog taxi photo, Jean – what a hoot! People spend money on their pets because they love them like they are their children; at least that’s how I feel about my dog. I suppose some of that can be conspicuous spending, but surely not all of it. We don’t go overboard with buying dog “stuff” – certainly not designer goods – but our pup has health insurance so that I don’t have to have her put down because I might not have enough money for an expensive surgery (we’ve used it twice and it’s paid for itself both times.) Angel is one of the best parts of my life and I treasure her above whatever it costs to take care of her. We live near a park where people walk and run with their dogs on leashes, plus a leash free dog park – amenities like these make sense as it attracts people to the area and probably pays for itself in the long run. Life changes when you have a dog, mostly in good ways, and walking a dog in the neighborhood is a great way to connect to other people.


    1. Jean says:

      Clearly you and your husband have prioritized your budget for dog care. I agree that for some people (not you since you get exercise from gardening also), dog walking is their only form of active exercise.


  6. Jiawei says:

    I also grew up in a household with no pets, and didn’t feel anything missing until I got married. My husband has always been a cat lover. And I fell in love with his cat shortly after we were married. Our cat was extremely social and affectionate and brought immense joy to our children’s young lives. Even though she was loved as much as our children, we never got her any lavish cat gifts, certainly not any designer goods. She didn’t need those to be happy. So we assumed anyway.

    But one thing I wish we did get her was insurance. We ended up paying a lot to save her in her last days when she was sick.

    Love the photos of the dog taxi and the hotel!


    1. Jean says:

      The dog taxi suddenly appeared during one of our bike rides along path. I thought the husky dog looked so forlorn. 🙂 Maybe one day your family will have another new cat for company. 🙂 I think animals are interested in food, warm home and feeling safe. Nothing else matters.


  7. timethief says:

    What an entertaining post. I love dogs and it’s always interesting to see how people accommodate them especially on bicycles. In the gulf islands bicyclists with dogs in wire or wicker baskets, plastic crates, and backpacks are not uncommon. But then again we are an eccentric lot.

    We have three small rescued dogs. They aren’t designer dogs even though they are small and I don’t treat like they are bling or buy bling for them. II don’t dress them up or spend any money on designer collars and leads.

    If the Chihuahuas ie” “the girls” have to go to the vet in winter then I put their fleece sweaters on and we take them by vehicle. The fleeces they wear use to be the arms of a fleece jacket I once owned. Their heads fit nicely at wrist of the sleeve and all I did was cut them to length insert armholes and shape the skirt part with my scissors.

    As for the Pomeranian well, he has a lovely double layered coat — enough for at least two dogs and doesn’t need clothing to keep warm or dry. Hubby refers to him as “chick magnet” because he’s extremely attractive dog with a charming personality and he woos everyone he meets. His face is so cute that he has his own fan club wherever he goes.

    We do love our dogs very much. We love our cat too. They are family members and they well treated perhaps even a bit spoiled. The cat is about 18 now and gets special tiny cans of food. He spends most of the day sleeping. We feed the dogs only raw meat and raw veggies. We don’t feed grain and no commercial “dog food” ever touches their lips. But we don’t invite them to eat at the table.

    If I were a bicyclist I would definitely want a dog carrier for a bike like the ones ta couple from Vancouver Island is selling. They were on the Dragon’s Den.

    Have you seen these?
    Turn the sound way down first > Animal Carrier For Bikes (By Baik Cycle)-Music ad


    1. Jean says:

      I really enjoyed writing up this post, timethief and hunting down photos we took over time. It was great fun. Then timing when I would publish the post: I could hardly wait to publish it even though I wrote it up 4 months ago. Just yesterday, I saw a car advertising their dog walking services.

      I’m sure your bevy of dogs must be a pleasant, fun sight to see. What is the Pomerarian’s name?

      In Vancouver, our building front actually have 3 iron loops embedded in the building wall for people to tie up their dogs for a very short time period. Someone made the comment to me after visiting downtown VAncouver, she had never seen so many people walking their dogs. I think it’s because there are alot of residents in Vancouver who live in buildings that allow dogs. It is contrast to Calgary where people only do it by a river parkway system or out in the suburban areas.

      I’ve seen the rare bike dog baskets here and there in bike stores as well as dog specific bike trailers.


      1. timethief says:

        Hi Jean,
        This was such an interesting theme (bikes and dogs). The photos are more than the glue. Arguably, they are equivalent to the text. Pets aren’t allowed on public transit, so those pet owners who don’t have vehicles need access to pet taxi services to get them to and from vet care was important. Thanks for featuring that.

        I call my pom Mr. T. 🙂


  8. This is great! I definitely have a few photos of dogs on bikes in Amsterdam… they do love their pets here (and their bicycles!) 🙂


    1. Jean says:

      It’s only been in the past 15 years I’ve seen more people cycling with their dogs. I like the bike trailers, baskets, etc. A lot better than the dog run along side –which is healthier for dog but quite awkward for cyclist and other cyclists around them.


  9. susielindau says:

    I could use a trip to the spa! Hahaha! Some of those pooches are really spoiled!


    1. Jean says:

      They sure are!


  10. Jacana says:

    We are heading in the same direction here in Australia with lavishing money out on our pets. Guess with a society that is becoming less physically social and more internet social that pets are often just like children to some people, especially our elderly.


    1. Jean says:

      Maybe it might be related to a society’s income level (at least for some people), less responsibilities when there are less children per family or no children and hence, more time to look after a dog, security, etc. That’s just my guess.


  11. Alice L says:

    I love how detailed your blogposts are! I’ve never had a dog or a cat, but it’s always interesting to see what pet owners are into now. 🙂


    1. Jean says:

      Dog lovers seem to enjoy these details of attention and care for their dogs.


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