Today's dogs sit in the lap of luxury

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ARE WE going absolutely overboard in caring for our pets these days?

This struck me after I posed another, even more incredible question: What games does Storm like to play? Storm is a Labrador retriever, and the idea that he might somehow hold preference to a particular form of entertainment should have been enough for me. But the dean of admissions at this school for dogs insisted on an answer.

Storm and I had come fully prepared for the meeting, attempting to pass the stringent interview so my pal could attend doggie day care and I could pay handsomely. As the experts say, a dog needs a lot of stimulation and interaction with others, and I had bought right into it.

I'd say Storm enjoys chess, but it's really the chess pieces he seems to enjoy more than anything. He loves hide-and-seek, too. But it's more the hide part he has fun with. I finally settled on an answer: Storm is quite remarkable at retrieving a ball and plays an excellent game of tug-of-war. What was I saying? What was I doing here?

My dog's quality of life is getting better than my own. Besides his own health insurance policy, he has his own dog walker who comes by daily and leaves me a note telling me of his neighborhood exploits and how many times he took a No. 2, apparently vital information for any owner.

Then there is the $150 orthopedic bed that I got talked into, great for the back, I was told. Now that I think about it, my dog, or any other dog, has never taken the day off because of a bad back. Of course, that didn't cross my mind at the time. Not to mention the extra $30 I spent to get his name stitched on the bed - very important, especially because of his high reading level.

Of course, Storm had to have special elevated food bowls. I wouldn't want him to strain his neck hunched over a normal dog bowl while chowing down his naturally enhanced low-fat food with fish oil added for the heart.

This is the same dog who knocks over the trash weekly and embarrassingly sniffs everyone on the block. When I am on vacation, the dog's bill often exceeds my own. He stays at a posh dog resort with his own pet suite and daily playtimes.

Well, this ridiculous life my dog leads is about to end. Back to walking when I say walking, sleeping when I say sleeping. That is, right after we get back from the dog salon where Storm gets his weekly cut and blow-dry and designer nail-trimming.

Mark Schlossenberg is a free-lance writer who lives in Germantown.

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