Wednesday, July 27, 2016

No Holds Barred: Keep Calm and Poodle on

Sunshine drinking his Dutch Bros. drive-thru Puppuccino.
By Blair Sabol; photographs by Patrick Halbe

We are not even halfway through summer and it already feels longer and hotter (everywhere) than ever before. In the Midwest, they are calling the high humidity "corn sweat" since the heat has already burned out the crops and created some kind of odd barometric "dome" problem that has become a "perspiring" epidemic.

It's obvious that politics has replaced the Olympics and street violence has become our national sport. Most people have opted to stay home (except Rupert Murdoch, who was still in the South of France with new wife Jerry Hall). In the Hamptons, people are not "Dining Out" (who can stand to drive in bumper to bumper traffic, let alone make a left hand turn) but settling (like everyone else) for Netflix and Chill.
No one is Mall Crawling, or even shopping as a diversion. The one shoppers highlight was Amazon's Prime Day on July 12th, which did $525 million in 24 hours and became bigger than any post Thanksgiving Black Friday door buster. Personally I wanted to do a tour of the Phoenix Amazon Warehouse. Unfortunately, there are no tours allowed. Pictures have shown a space as big as two football fields lined with floor to ceiling merchandise (way beyond Costco) and cherry picker robots in every aisle. Obviously no "sales people" are visible. My dream trip of late would NOT be to some crowded Mediterranean beach, but a visit to an Amazon warehouse!
Amazon Phoenix warehouse — no tours allowed.
So, in these times of cultural fear and loathing, the only safe zones are sports and pets. But mostly pets. When the going gets tough — the tough go to the dogs. And this is not just about the "dog days of summer." It's actually all animals from fish to cats to hamsters to turtles — it's just that dogs get more press. And more business has exploded around dogs. How about 63 billion dollars! We are all waiting for PetSmart or Petco to make the Stock Exchange (that and Trader Joe's). Babies are always popular, but pets are edging them out on Instagram alone!
Look at this Summer's top movie — "The Secret Life of Pets" (grossing over 200 million). It opened on the weekend of the Dallas cop shooting and it went through the roof beating "Finding Dory" (another animal extravaganza) and now sailing past "Ghostbusters" and "Tarzan." Apparently cartoons of yammering animals complaining of their personal problems appeals to human's need for the great escape. Only pets can teach humans "unconditional love" but even 12 step meetings can't top a relationship with a rescue animal (even though now there is a group called "Petaholics" — but they are an animal service biz).
Perhaps the dog obsession has reached the ridiculous as last week I was invited to 2 "Pup Pool Parties." Dogs floating on rafts, fake tattoo decals on their bellies, colored dog mani/pedi's, and "puptails" (shaken not stirred) were offered poolside. This is nothing compared to the businesses catering to dog birthdays now called "Barkdays." There are balloons in the shape of your dog and "pupcakes." These party trends (now labeled "pawties") are big and only cost you $300 in catering for "pawty planning" either for "claws or paws."
And here I thought dog food was over-amped. Wet, dry, gluten free, vegan, natural, organic, Paleo ... what happened to Purina Dog Chow? Now Costco has 4 aisles devoted to "dog culinary. Rachael Ray, long famous for her human "cuisine" is making a fortune with her "healthy dog food line! My own vet has assured me I needn't serve my dog "raw food."
Thank God — it would cost me more than my vet bills. And speaking of vet bills — the hot rich person to date today is a veterinarian. They make more money than most brain surgeons and don't have to deal with the medical insurance. And as for dating, someone already told me there is a "Tinder" app being developed for dogs called "Breeder" ... "Are you looking for a bitch in heat? Breeders!"

I refuse to get that out of hand with my dog. We do share a "grooming day" together. We both get a shampoo blowout ... weekly! And he gets his "Puppuccino" while I have my Latte. Dogs are the safest space. My dog is tech free and won't play "Pokémon Go." And he doesn't "talk" politics, although he has been seen wearing a Trump hat (only because red is his color). He is politically and culturally ignorant. How refreshing!
"Dogs having Coffee" with trainer Kitra Tovar and her dog Monkey.
Dogs for The Donald.
It's clear that the talk of the day is about "staying safe and sound." And now "therapy dogs" are the real pets to have and to hold. In fact ... Summer 2016 is all about Security. A dear friend Randy Sue Pollack (who is a prominent criminal lawyer in San Francisco) just sent me a "Be Smart and Stay Safe" pamphlet. It is meant to be folded and stored in your wallet. It reads like the best "hot tip" sheet for our hot times. NOW Everyone I have shown it to wants one. Not just for the info on what to do when you are stopped by the police, but also how to handle all house searches, arrests, cannabis discoveries and lawyers. Best of all, it is illustrated by the infamous artist R. Crumb. It was originally published in the '70s during the uproarious "tune in, turn on and drop out" days in Haight/Ashbury. Those days are gone – harsher days are here and it is even more relevant today!
In these sweltering times of "packing heat," I think we are way past "keep calm and carry on." Nowadays it is more like "keep calm ... who are we kidding?"

So chillax, and hug your dog.
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