Animals & Money: Pets may be recession proof, but pet luxuries?

If there is one upside to the economic downturn, it is the downfall of what was once assumed to be the resilient market for luxury pet goods. Dog and cat lovers are used to having ridiculous, often useless products foisted upon us. But in the last few years we have also had to endure a parade of come-ons for a keeping up with the Jones' dog approach to pet ownership. Happily, that may end.

In 2005, Paw Luxuries Magazine proudly launched as "the only magazine devoted to the world of high-end pet products and luxury pet services." Somehow before that us dog and cat people had to get along without "a stylish photographic essay, showcasing dazzling designs from the trendsetters of the pet world." And we'll have to find a way to get by without it; Paw Luxuries is gone. (Though The Pet Elite and Luxury Pet Living survive.)

No doubt, we're all spending more on our pets as they've become a bigger part of our families. When I was growing up, my dog Peanut was lucky to get an occasional rawhide stick. Now my dog Jolly has an assortment of meat-based treats -- like Dr. Becker's Bison bites (which are like a meat Pringle). He's also a senior with arthritis, so he has coats and even beds for all weather.

But what sellers of luxury pet goods fail to understand is, I'm willing to spend a lot of money on something I think will make Jolly comfortable or happy or even amused. I'm not interested in spending money to get a dog status symbol or fashion statement or piece of dog cuteness.