Dog ownership, like cocaine use, can be seen as an economic indicator. As incomes rise, some people can afford to have pets for the first time, while others decide they can spring for new (dog) toys, trips to the groomer, or pricey organic kibbles.
The Atlantic Magazine, November, 2012
Well, I just knew that dogs had to be good for something besides companionship, protection or funny YouTube videos. Turns out that the specifics of dog ownership and treatment are key indicators of a country’s economic health. I hear that Paul Krugman has been using this indicator for many years but has kept it under wraps to protect his Nobel Prize stature. The cat is out of the bag, if I can mix my metaphors and topics. (Paul secretly uses the “Cocaine Snorting Index” as well.)
The U.S. is numero uno in total dog population, 75,800,000 at last count. About 10% of these dogs come to my yard daily to sniff and poop and 23% of them can be heard barking in my neighborhood at any given time. The second largest population of dogs, 35,700,000 can be found barking in Portuguese in Brazil. This is more dogs than Canada has people, an Atlantic Magazine observation that would seem to have no bearing on anything whatsoever except to add to Canada’s inferiority complex.
Brazil is the undisputed champion of “small dogs” owned, at 101 per 1,000 people. Portugal is close behind at 98 per 1,000. Apparently, if one speaks Portuguese, one is drawn to the smaller canine. A dog is considered small if it weighs less than 20 pounds. These dogs are also known in various circles as “nuisance dogs” in that they are useless for protection and tend to be attention whores to the point where visitors secretly wish that the owner would leave the room just long enough for said guest to kick the little yapping bastard into next week.
Signaling robust and growing economies are the rapidly increasing dog populations of India (+58% since 2007), the Philippines (+38%), Venezuela (+30%), and Russia (+28%). Illustrating sagging economic fortunes are the declining dog headcounts in Greece (-3%), Romania (-4%), Japan (-4%) and France (-7%). Perhaps heartening for all economies is the fact that cocaine use among dogs has remained relatively stable during this time.
The percentage champion for owning big dogs (50+ lbs) is Saudi Arabia where 70% of all dogs are big. Being a male-dominated culture, owning big dogs is likely some form of compensation for lack of size in other departments. It’s just a theory. In the United Arab Emirates, 52% of the dogs are big in spite of a national law banning 16 breeds of mean dogs including Huskies, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers. Earlier this year, the anti-big dog crowd in the Muslim world gained ground when a Pit Bull savagely mauled a Toy Poodle contestant at the Dubai Pet Show. Some of the locals claimed that the Poodle had it coming, what with the painted toe nails, semi-precious stone collar and silly haircut.
As for the cost of feeding a dog, country to country, there is wide disparity. While China spends 98 cents per month per dog, Norway spends $53.22. Americans spend $14 per month per dog. According to some, President Obama wants to turn America into a socialist country like Norway where hard-working, patriotic taxpayers support the lazy, the idle, the unworthy and dogs. I mean seriously, without government subsidies, how can each dog in Norway consume almost $650 worth of Gravy Train each year? Hey, wait, isn’t China a socialist country? Why aren’t their dogs eating better? I’m confused.
Here’s the thing, once word gets around about Norway, I suspect that there will be some canine whining about what cheapskates U.S. dog owners are. My advice, owners: stand your ground. Without government support, $14 per month is plenty and 14 times as much as the Chinese dogs are getting. Besides, we don’t want to be another Norway. It’s cold there, although they do have nice wood.
In North Korea, dog ownership is actually a revenue source not an expense. They love their dogs in North Korea, more flavorful than chicken and higher in protein.
As for pampering, Brazil is once again the champeen. Many folks in Brazil have their dogs blessed by a Roman Catholic priest in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of nuisance dogs. Then there is the veterinarian in Sao Paulo who specializes in plastic surgery for dogs. Dr. Edgado Brito says, “Plastic surgery is good for dogs.” Well, of course it is. The most expensive procedure is the face lift for the Shar Pei followed closely by reconstructive surgery for female dogs whose mammaries are all droopy after having a litter of enormously expensive puppies. The great expense, of course, is related primarily to the number of mammaries involved. In people terms, four times as expensive.
My very favorite Brazil dog pampering story, and there never was much contest, is that of Fabiano Lourdes and his sister Daniela. This enterprising pair have opened a $1 million “love hotel” for dogs in the city of Belo Horizonte. Dog owners can check their dog into the Animalle Mundo Pet Hotel for the express purpose of getting the dog laid. The $50 per day rooms come furnished with red cushions, dimmed lighting and a heart-shaped mirror on the ceiling. It is not clear whether one needs to bring a suitable mating partner for the tryst or whether one is provided a partner at additional expense. (This would be the dog equivalent of the quicky with a girlfriend versus a prostitute, the latter costing more in immediate terms.)
I fear, however, that Fabiano and Daniela have not done sufficient research on dog mating habits, to wit: I have had occasions in which I witnessed dogs coupling for the purpose of procreation. Never once have I observed these dogs in such a position as to be able to admire their progress in a ceiling-mounted mirror. I’m not convinced that even if the mirror were at floor level, similar to those in shoe stores, that the dogs would experience additional titillation. Dogs, it seems to me, are quite randy enough to hump anything that suggests it may be a source of pleasant friction, the red cushions for instance. The mirrors were likely a waste of money, except for the marketing angle of convincing really stupid pet owners to pay $50 for a room when simply closing the two dogs in the garage would have accomplished the same thing.
Observoid of the Day: Dog shows are one of very few places where you can say “bitch” without fear of being slapped.