Frozen yogurt for the canine palate? Ask dogs if they careAug 22nd, 2013 | By Chris Bateman | Category: Bateman's Blog
“Frozen Yogurt For Your Dogs Is Back! Stop In For A Pint Today.”
At first I couldn’t believe the sign in front of a pet store in the Chicago suburb where I grew up and where my mother still lives. But Noah’s Ark owner Angie DeMars not only carries yogurt, but sells plenty of Peanut Banana, Bacon Peanut and other flavors to Winnetka dog owners for $3 a scoop or $10 a pint – more than twice as much as Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for humans.
“It’s shipped in from Denver overnight on dry ice,” says DeMars, who has captained the Ark for 11 years and also offers canine jewelry, wigs (Rastafarian and electric blue are among choices), clothing, snacks, gourmet foods, supplements and, of course, massage therapy.
“It’s delicious,” she says of the yogurt. “A lot of owners enjoy it with their dogs.”
Noah’s is moored at an Elm Street storefront that when I grew up housed Carson Pirie Scott, a classy store that in the 1950s and ’60s catered to upscale Winnetka’s classier women.
Back then, however, Winnetka’s dogs were just dogs. They ate Purina or Alpo and many lived outside. They didn’t dress up, accessorize, eat organic or – unless they could steal it from the kitchen table – have dessert. have dessert. Amazingly, those dogs seemed pretty happy.
I didn’t have one of my own as a kid, but the Chesapeake Bay Retriever from down the street never took me aside to complain that the Thearns gave him cheap, processed food, routinely forgot his birthday and refused to take him trick-or-treating. Coke never griped that he was denied oatmeal shampoo, health insurance, doggie cologne or, even on the coldest Chicago-area days, a cardigan sweater.
But times are changing. More evidence comes from Seattle, where my wife and I last month found a “dog bakery” across from our hotel. Scraps carried canine cookies, doggie birthday cakes, organic kibble that runs more than $3 a pound, raw food that’s even more expensive, probiotic supplements, designer dog beds and cherry- or almond-wood dog crates that cost hundreds of dollars and double as coffee tables or armoires.
“Seattle is dog crazy,” understates Dave Figueroa, who has seen business at Scraps steadily climb since he opened seven years ago.
That the store is in a wealthy neighborhood doesn’t hurt. That Amazon has a huge, dog-friendly corporate campus with hundreds of workspace pooches nearby is icing on the doggie cake. So is the fact that many of Scraps’ customers are DINKs.
“Double income, no kids,” explains Figueroa, adding that money other couples may spend on children is budgeted by DINKs for their dogs. “They shop across the street at Whole Foods, then come over here to get the same kind of food for their dogs. They want organic, they don’t want GMOs. They read the labels.”
They may read Scraps’ price tags, too, but apparently don’t much care what’s on them.
I smiled and shook my head, thankful to live in a rural backwater where untethered dogs ride in the beds of pickup trucks, sleep under the stars and still chow down on Dog Chow.
But on returning home I decided to check out Dusty’s Den east of Sonora to see if the spoiled-rotten-dog movement had made any inroads up here in the hills.
“Got any frozen dog yogurt?” I asked Deborah Hart, who with husband George has owned the Mono Village pet emporium for 16 years. I meant the question as a joke, but to Hart didn’t hesitate.
“Let me check the freezer,” she said, returning seconds later to say she was temporarily out of stock. She suggested that I instead pick up a few frosted doggie cookies, shipped from Alabama by Claudia’s Canine Cuisine and going for $1.25 each. “Your dogs will love them,” said Hart, giving me free samples for Murphy, Bailey and Jack.
A brief tour of Dusty’s made it clear that dog the local Rolex-and-BMW folks are not leaving their dogs behind. Among the inventory: A dozen varieties of organic shampoo, including oatmeal and lavender, at $10 a bottle; Taste of the Wild dog food “as featured in Whole Dog Journal,” with bison, venison or smoked-salmon; Northwest Naturals raw lamb or chicken morsels at $23 for a six-pound bag; rhinestone dog collars, canine bow ties and a faux-mink dog sling in which Sonora socialites can carry their bejeweled bichons.
Dogs diverged from wolves more than 15,000 years ago, but until the last century Man’s Best Friend was a working animal and not a pet. Before 1950 most American dogs lived outside – hence “in the doghouse” was not a good place to be. Now few dogs work, most are invited in for the night and many snooze at the foot of their masters’ Tempur-Pedic beds.
And, really, how bad can “the doghouse” be if it’s “Barkingham Palace,” a $417,000 canine compound built by a British dog owner? Its amenities: a 52-inch plasma TV (they play reruns of Lassie), a $25,000 sound system (plays ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’), climate control, sheepskin beds, self-filling and cleaning food bowls, a webcam and a retinal-scanner entry system to keep out the neighborhood mutts and probably a few neighborhood humans.
I could conclude with a few words on how all this fall-of-Rome-type excess heralds the collapse of society and is proof we are quite literally going to the dogs.
But I promised Noah’s Ark owner DeMars that I’d come aboard to taste her doggie yogurt (make mine Peanut Bacon) before leaping to any rash conclusions.
Chris Bateman, 67, is a journalist based in Sonora, California, where over the past 40 years he has covered everything under the Sierra Nevada sun. Contact him at email@example.com, or better yet, comment below.
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