The italicized teaser reads, “Spend Less on Accessories, Purchase High-Quality Food and Shop for Health Needs.” All this in the December 27th edition of the Wall Street Journal’s fluffy Personal Journal section.
Four short columns are adorned with a photo of a chocolate Lab atop a stainless steel exam table, accompanied by a [not unattractive] male vet or vet tech in scrubs. The article, apart from including erroneous health information provided by the director of economic research at HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), tells an engaging (if woefully abbreviated and economically unsubstantiated) story about how to save money on your pets.
Titled, “How to Curb the Rising Cost of Owning a Pet,” the article glibly fluffs on how unnecessary all those cute collars and designer totes are. Apparently our pets don’t care what image they portray. (OK now tell us something we don’t know.)
On the subject of pet accoutrements, I beg to differ. It’s like telling the car-crazed crowd to forego leather seats on their luxury cars because their butts don’t need the supple texture beneath them to navigate the roads. Do WSJ readers really care for this kind of advice?
Fun toys and cozy beds, cute collars and funky, skull-adorned sweaters mirror the strength of our attachment to our pets. And the cost of it all comes nowhere close to the price of the WSJ readership’s BMW’’s halogen lights or Harmon-Kardon stereo system.
Get real, WSJ. Pet lovers buy for their charges because it feels right to bond with their adopted children by pampering them. No matter that they’d happily lie on a towel over the L.L. Bean dog bed if it happened to be six inches closer to you. We want to think of them as being as cozy as possible. And if a Coach collar or fancy cat dish reflects your appreciation of the role of your pet in your life then I say spend away!
Next up, how to shop for a vet. Price shop for your pet’s healthcare needs, it advocates. Forget quality (which the article mentions only as a brief aside)—compare prices instead. Recommendations from trusted friends and fellow animal fiends? Not a mention. Listed, however, are the prices for a rabies shot and exam fee at one hospital in California ($18 and $54, respectively). As if a sample size of one is likely to help inform our decision on selecting a good vet.
Happily, some useful tips on pet insurance and pharmacy shopping are included. Though I can do without the HSUS economic director’s ill-informed medical opinions (she’s not a vet so what makes her a quotable source?) on poor quality foods (which lead to hyperactivity, she says) or the economic rationale for spaying (due to the high cost of ovarian cancer treatment). Last I checked ovarian cancer went practically unreported in the veterinary literature—it’s about as rare a cancer as you can find in pets.
As a general rule, I’m heartened to see pet-related information splattered on the pages of a business paper, albeit in the fluffier sections. But this article approaches pets as mere commodities for whom our rampant consumerism need not apply.
Although you’ll never see me with a Louis Vuitton doggie tote, rest assured I’ll never skimp on my dog’s niceties and necessities—even if it means a high-end collar from Coach or a trip to the best, most expensive surgeon in town.