Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Lorraine Corrigan

These gorgeous papier-mâché dogs are made by UK-based artist Lorraine Corrigan in Hounds of Bath.

Lorraine adores sight hounds with their sleek lines, grace and elegance.

She loves to introduce the surprising concept of rolled paper art to those who have never seen or heard of quilling.

Lorraine began sculpting dogs with paper around four years ago and has now developed a sophisticated technique using wires and layers of fine papers from recycled books.

Each piece is individually made to order and develops a unique personality as the finishing touches of the expressive eyes and fine ears are added.

At the end process, due to the use of the text, the piece is almost stone-like in texture.

Each piece is then finished with two layers of sealant wash to preserve it for many years to come.

More of Lorraine Corrigan‘s amazing art can be found at All Things Paper and http://houndsofbath.tumblr.com/.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Dean Russo

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dean Russo draws inspiration from urban landscapes and his love for dogs to create truly unique artwork known for its brilliant colors and bold abstract designs of mesmerizing shapes and symbols.

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To create these one of a kind images he uses a minimum of ten mediums per painting including pastels, ink, oils, pencils, wax, charcoal and spray paint.

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“I used to paint portraits of rock icons and Hollywood stars for so many years with my dogs by my side. Till one day I thought, why not paint my two favorite subjects?” says Russo.

ms-understood-dean-russo

Initially inspired by his two cocker spaniels, Dean began working with rescue centers to raise awareness and donate his work.

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Dean strives to communicate a message that encourages people to choose adoption, to acknowledge the world-wide failure of breed specific legislation and to combat dog fighting around the world.

1-black-lab-dean-russo

“When a child sees, hears and acts upon my message, I feel successful. Anytime someone puts a message of love or respect towards people or animals into the universe it builds like a ripple. I hope I live long enough to see my ripples come back to me. That will make me smile.”

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Dean Russo’s designs can be found on t-shirts, posters, tote bags and framed art. His creations of dogs fills the world with magic — and love.happy-shepherd-dean-russo

You can fulfill your love of Dean Russo‘s art and dogs at :

http://deanrussoart2.myshopify.com and http://dean-russo.artistwebsites.com,

Sleep and Cats and Dogs — Oh My!

eyesIt was a beautiful Summer morning. Cool breeze, bright sunshine, quiet countryside. I take the backroads to work; little if any traffic, cornfields and open fields and barns and houses on hills in the distance. Calming. Nourishing.

So I’m driving to work and I ZOOM! around this cute little ruby red car (must have been a Chrysler…great paint color), saying to myself (and them through the ethereal)…if I didn’t have to get to work on time, I’d be you.

Moving at the speed of light isn’t my thing. If you know me at all, you know it takes a lot to get me zinging at all. I’m usually not late for work — but I usually have more than 2 hours of sleep, too.

Clicking off on my fingers the reasons I might have insomnia (husband gets home at 3:30am; ; overworked at work; cats and dogs sleeping in the bed)…What?? Cats and Dogs sleeping in the bed?!?

As I get older I find that I’m really not as much a cat or dog person as I once was. Sure, they’re cute. Sure, they’re loving and affectionate and independent. They are also a pain in the butt at night.  Can’t leave the dogs (3) out to wander through the house because they’ll knock down the babygates in the kitchen and eat whatever is on the counter. Can’t leave the dogs out to wander at night because they will bark like idiots at 3:30 a.m. and wake up the kindergardener (and you don’t want a kindergardener up and crabby at 4 in the morning). Cat’s barred at the door will meow relentlessly every 15 minutes until you let them into the bedroom because, hey — they want to cuddle.

It would be one thing if the cats would just find a place at the bottom of the bed and just sleep. But, like most cats, one has to climb up by my neck, lay on my shoulder, put her arm around my neck, lick my face (ewww) every now and then, and not allow me to turn over without turning the world upside down.

I have no room in a king-sized bed.

I’m not a pet-on-the-bed kinda girl. It’s just become easier than waking up every hour or two because someone is in the garbage or meowing their heads off or scratching at the door or watching TV.

Looking back on that little ruby car, they were just meandering along the road, taking their time, breathing in the fresh air and quiet countryside. (At least that seems like what they were doing). There were no (obvious) deadlines, bosses upset, burned-out co-workers, or garbage picking dogs in their vicinity. Just them…and the morning…and driving 25 mph.

There’s no need telling you that stress is the hellion of the millenium. You used to be able to work 40 years someplace and get a gold watch for your time. Now you’re doing the work of two people, getting barely paid for one, and praying downsizing goes to the next company over. We push ourselves way too hard — and can’t help it. It’s move forward or move out.

I’m tired of working that hard. I’m tired of worrying if I’ll get my work done on time or if I’ll learn the newest version of some program. And the older I get, the more ridiculous the whole working world seems.

Believe me — I appreciate Technology. Agriculture. Science. But I keep thinking we’re paying an awful high price for the privilege. You don’t have a choice. You want TV: you have to work. You want to buy groceries: you have to work. You want to buy your grandbaby a birthday gift: you have to work.

America is such a hurry-up culture. Do it now, do it fast, move on over if you can’t handle it. As much as I preach a “stop and smell the roses” kind of life, it’s not always  feasible. Not when someone is on your tail pushing you faster and faster.

It’s hard to find the middle ground. The middle ground between sleeping in and sleeping at all. Between mowing your lawn and sitting in a chair on it. Keeping pets and living with pets. But we all have to do it if we are to keep our sanity.

Which brings me back to my original thought. Cats and dogs on the bed. Mass hysteria — or mass sleep hypnosis?

Maybe I’ll start eyeballing the comfy sofa downstairs.

 

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8 (more) Granny Rules

CAM00835 (2)I want to start this off by saying how lucky — and I mean lucky — I am to have my oldest son, his pregnant wife, and my 4-year-old grandbaby living with us for a few months. I will never have this opportunity again, so I don’t want to blow it.

Having said that, I have found that when family stays with you (even if it’s for a week or two), the rules as a Granny change. I find I’m not as freebird-ish as I want to be. I have learned that, much to MY chagrin, you have to be respectful of the parents’ wishes, thoughts, and actions.

So for you other present or future grannies and grandpas, here are some rules you should think about.

1.  Bed Time is Bed Time.

Oh, you may be able to squeeze an extra hour out on the weekends, but during the week, there is no watching TV in bed with Granny while eating an ice cream bar or jumping on the bed with the dogs. They need to calm down before sleep time. (So do you!)

2. Bed Time Snacks Are Different.

No more chips and soda before bed; no more cheese sticks and slices of salami, no more Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch cocktails. Pull that apple out from the back of the frig shelf, or pour a bowl of cereal. Act responsible. (Leave the ice cream bars for before YOU go to bed..)

3.  Ask your Mom/Dad

My grandson used to come over and get just about anything he wanted any time he wanted. Now that he’s under closer supervision, I can’t sneak him string cheese or pretzels and peanut butter  instead of dinner. I find myself saying, “Ask your Mother.” I feel like I’m shirking my Granny duties, but it’s better if the stomach aches come from them, not me.

4.  Kids and Pets

I tend to yell at my 3 stupid dogs a lot. I now have to clean up my language and not sound like a truck driver every time the dog pees or poops inside or wraps the leash around my ankle. My grandbaby adds to the furor by picking up my cats around the neck and parading around with them. When the cats have finally had enough, he takes it personally and starts to antagonize them. My language AND my reprimands are a little stronger now days. Not the Granny Way.

5.  Play Age-Approriate Games

Teaching a grandbaby how to use an axe to cut the string on firewood or mowing the lawn with a riding tractor (although grandpa rode on the tractor too) is not what a mother wants to hear. I am always honest with her — much to HER chagrin. While riding down the little hill on a Big Wheels looks as scary as a runaway train, a vigilant grandparent will be there every step of the way. Trust me — past times like coloring and playing with cars don’t hold a candle to a big squirt gun fight.

6.  Give your kids and grandkids space.

It’s fairly easy to trip over each other in one household. Fortunately my husband is gone in the evening and I’m gone during the day, so our 25 minutes of shared daylight doesn’t get in anyone’s way. But once grandpa is gone and I’m home alone with everybody, I tend to start feeling like a sticky note. I believe that evening times are Dad and Mom times, with a little Granny sprinkled in now and then for color. I usually wind up going into my room and writing/watch TV/fold laundry anyway, giving them plenty of time to cuddle as a threesome and talk about me if they want.

7.  No Hands.

And who better to teach a 4-year-old no hands on the roller coaster? Momma and I get sick just looking at them; then there’s Grandpa. And Dad. But Grandpa is the Instigator who looks fear in the eye and laughs at it. (He has a great laugh). If trying something off-center, try and pull one of the parents into it. It’s easier in the long run.

8.  Be honest.

Grannies are always honest…it just doesn’t always seem like it. Most times we are relegated to seeing our grandkids every other weekend, or, sadly, every month or every year. We have to make the most of our time together; after all, we don’t want our grandkids to forget about us once we’re gone. That’s why I tell my grandbaby (and my kids, but to a lesser degree), how much I love them, how much I miss them when they’re gone, how much I can’t wait to see them the next time. We plan things that might not come to fruition, but it’s the fun and love in planning that makes the difference.  I wear my love on my sleeve. And don’t regret the shredded mess at all.

 

We’re going to have another addition to our family in a few months. I have found as a mother myself that it’s easier to let go (to grandparents) by the time the second one comes along. Parents realize that their parents aren’t one step from the looney bin, they’re not Charles Manson followers, and the craziness that occurs is more in the mind than in reality.

Soon we will have TWO kids to spoil. My kids won’t be living with us by then.

Momma — watch out. Granny’s coming —

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — George Rodrigue

I am continuously amazed at the Unique Art I come across these days — the art I can’t wait to share with you.

But this evening I am sharing an artist that somehow stirs even more inside of me. More so because I’ve always loved this artist … and never knew his name.

 Are You Trying to Get To My Good Side

Meet — Blue Dog. Possibly one of the most iconic pop art figures created by artist George Rodrigue. Blue Dog has been everywhere from the permanent collection of the Smithsonian to the White House and all over the world.

Banana Split Sundae

Born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana,  George began painting the third grade while bedridden with polio. Later in life, his art studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette followed by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena gave him a foundation that spawned one of the greatest success stories in southern art.

Life Is a Light Bulb

George Rodrigue was a gifted artist who set out to paint Louisiana as he knew it by visually interpreting the landscape and the rich history of the Cajun people. But that all changed when he found his model in his studio: a photograph of his dog, Tiffany, who had died.

Blue Dog Oak

She was black and white in reality but became blue in his imagination, with yellow eyes. She was also a she, but she could become a he — or, for that matter, whatever else a viewer was prepared to see.

 Are You Lonesome Tonight

“I’m expressing the feelings of mankind today through the Blue Dog,” George said.  “The dog is always having problems of the heart, of growing up, the problems of life. The dog looks at us and asks, ‘Why am I here? What am I doing? Where am I going?’ Those are the same questions we ask ourselves. People look at the paintings, and the paintings speak back to them.”

Mardi Gras 2015

Sadly, George Rodrigue passed away at age 69 on December 14, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Sixty-nine. A mere youth in the cosmic scope of things. George used his art to help raise awareness of causes, and improve the profile of his beloved New Orleans and Louisiana.

Everywhere

His heart was in his work, in his love of his blue dog and his beautiful wife and loving kids. I am sorry I never knew his name before now. But I will never forget him.

He Stopped Loving Her Today

George’s fantastic collection can be seen at https://georgerodrigue.com/. His wife Wendy continues his legacy with a loving blog which you should check out too: http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/. A deeper tribute can also be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-ross/remembering-rodrigue-the-_b_4503698.html/.

Love Me Forever

We’ve all had our Blue Dogs — here’s hoping you find one, too.

The Raven Unicorn

 

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I love writing. I love writing everything — including parodies.

Most of you know I also love unicorns.

I came across this wonderful little ditty the other day. I wrote it as an invitation to my 60th birthday party. I believe instead of complaining, whining, and belittling the day we cannot do anything about, we should make a big deal of it every day.

So enjoy my ode to my birthday party two years ago.

 

 

The Raven  The Unicorn

by

Claudia Edgar Allan Anderson

 

Once upon a weeknight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over a many quaint and curious volume of forgotten recorded TV shows

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my patio door.

‘Tis my dogs I muttered, tapping at my patio door.

Only this and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December

And each separate dust bunny made a mess upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow – vainly I had thought to borrow

A DVD from my son’s room, but sorrow – sorry he had misplaced Avatar

Just a phase and nothing more.

Presently my channel surfing grew boring, hesitating then no longer

Dickens or Rennie dogs, said I, truly your forgiveness I implore

But the fact was I was napping, and so gently you came rapping.

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my patio door.

That I scarcely heard you. Here I slide open the door

Snow piled there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing

The dogs so quietly sleeping, sleeping down the bathroom hall

But the silence was now broken, and the dogs were gently snoring

And the only word there spoken was the whispered words ‘sixty oh.’

Merely this and nothing more.

Open here I flung the patio shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In stepped a stately unicorn of the saintly days of yore.

Not the least chuckle made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she;

But with the air of a know-it-all, perched above my breakfront door

Perched upon a duck decoy just atop my breakfront door

Laid down, and smiled, nothing more.

By the silly and irreverent decorum of the smirk that she wore

Though thy horn be sparkly and spirally, thou, I said, art sure no dog.

Smiling and bouncy ancient unicorn wandering from the snow piles

Tell me what thy lady’s name is on the night of the Walking Dead finale!

Quoth the unicorn, ‘sixty, oh!’

The unicorn still beguiling, all my weary bones into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a foot stool in front of unicorn and breakfront and door;

Then upon the polyester sinking, I betook to linking

Fancy unto fancy, remembering all my years of glorious tales

What this full-figured, laughing, ditzy unicorn

Meant in singing ‘sixty, oh!’

Prophet! said I, thing of beauty – prophet still, if real or fancy –

Whether astral traveling or whether sent by Gandalf

Are you telling me age has no meaning

Quoth the unicorn, ‘sixty, oh!’

And the unicorn, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the duck decoy just atop my breakfront door;

And her eyes have all the seeming of a family whose love is beaming

And the ceiling lamp o’er her streaming throws her shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that now is dancing on the floor

Now is singing ‘sixty, oh!’

Evidence!

CAM01055I know this is supposed to be a Goddessy blog, with Goddessy, middle-aged stories. And it is.

Maybe this is just a middle-aged reaction to thieves in the night. Thieves in the cold, crisp dawn. Thieves in the whisper of the early morn.

Last night I went to watch my grandbaby and his swimming lessons. Came home, set my purse on the sofa end table, loved and pet the dogs and cats, and went to bed. Somewhere in the late night I let them come and sleep with me for a couple of hours. (Mistake number 1).  Now, I’m not a sleep-with-the-animals kinda girl, but when I’m overtired and I don’t want to hear the dogs click-click-click across the wood floor, I invite them now and then to sleep on the bed.

Hubby comes home at 4, feeds said cats and dogs, and kicks all animals out of the room, and things are quiet until I get up for work a couple hours later. (Mistake number 2).

I get up this morning to go to work, and look at what I found on the dog’s pillow! My glasses soft case, a bracelet, and my flash drive holder! My first instinct was to blame the dogs…they are big, naughty, lovey chocolate labs. They get into the garbage, run away helter skelter if not watched, and bug me 95% of my waking hours. So who easier to blame for the woes of my domestic tranquility than them?

Later in the day I tell hubby about finding my prized possessions on the dog pillows, and, low and behold, he said it was my cats. My little Tom and my fatty Mysty. I say, “wha?” He says, oh yeah, I hear them playing hockey with things I leave out all the time. Pens, pins, bracelets, all kinds of trinkets find their way off the tables and onto the floor courtesy of my kitties.

Humph!

Now, it’s only the two of us (humans) in the house; it’s babyproofed when my grandbaby comes to visit, but otherwise it’s a kind of pick-up-when-you-feel-like-it place. I lived a long time to be able to live this way.

Now I find I have to kitty-proof my house. Including zipping my purse closed, it seems.

What ever happened to the carefree days of middle age? Those days when your kids are gone and you are free to walk around in your underwear and drink milk straight from the jug? The days when you are free to leave your purse open without fear of some ransacking animal pulling things out of it and seeing if they bounce? Before you know it they’ll be pulling out my toothbrush and brushing their kitty teeth or using a fork to eat their cat food, ordering cat trinkets on HSN and ordering tuna pizza from Pizza Hut.

Now that I think about it, though, it’s actually kinda funny to picture fat cat digging around in my purse, pushing the lipstick and gum aside, just to find the empty cloth glass case, picking it up with her teeth, pulling it out, shaking it around, and fetching it across the room, leaving it on the dog’s pillows, setting them up for the fall.

I guess she’s not such a dumb cat after all.

 

Shhhh Kitty Kitty Kitty….

Let me start off by saying – I love cats. I love MY cats. They are solace when I am sad, they are loving when I feel empty.

Now.

My cats also drive me up the proverbial wall.

They do the usual “cat” things…they lay on my laptop when I’m typing, sleep by my head when I’m trying to sleep. But they also make more noise than the Park Street Band. Especially Tom.

Tom is my grey and white tuxedo. He is the friendliest, coolest cat I’ve ever owned. He holds his own against my chocolate lab, along with the two other labs that practically live at my house. He allows my grandson to carry him all  around the house, feet dangling near the floor, as his body as long as my grandson is tall. He loves to lay on your lap – anyone’s lap – especially if you are under a blanket.

What’s the problem, then, you ask?

It’s multifold, actually.

First off, his meow is loud and demanding. Not just when he’s hungry, but when he wants a snack. When he wants a bite. When the other cat eats more than her share of breakfast and dinner. He’s not a fat cat – he’s just a slow eater. A bite, a nibble, a nap, another bite. So his eating/lifestyle often leaves his bowl empty, and his meow obnoxious. Relentless. Over the top.

I think Tom must be a vocal kind of cat. For his pestering snacking “meow” doesn’t hold a candle to his…cleaning ritual.

I have never heard a cat be so loud in cleaning himself. Not just a licky here, chewy there. This is a full-blown, groaning, squeaking, icky-sticky ritual. Grunts and groans that would make a sound effects master blush. And he seems to pick the quietest times to take a bath. 2 a.m. 4 a.m. When I just go to bed. An hour before I wake up.  If he can’t lick himself, he licks the dog’s head. Unless I close the bedroom door at night, he is there like clockwork. Cuddling, snuggling, licking and yacking and hacking. If I close him out, he and the other cat play tag from one end of the house to the other. I’m doomed no matter which way I turn.

You say maybe he’s got a mineral deficiency. Or needs more water. Or a bath.  I am of the belief that he is just one big, happy cat, and when he kicks back and relaxes, he thinks, “Hey!  I’m relaxed! Laid back! Let’s get clean!”

My other cat Mysty is the fat cat. I feel bad – I have never overfed either one. It’s just that once she got her plumbing “fixed”, she put on a pound or six. As the joke goes, she never met a meal she didn’t like. Rattle the cat food container and she is all over me like white on rice. So to speak. And once she’s full, she loves to lay and snuggle … on my chest. Ten pounds of kitty makes breathing a little labored. Not that I let her lay around my neck – it’s just that she hasn’t forgotten she used to do that when she was a baby. Three years and ten pounds ago.

Pets are a wonderful thing. Cats and dogs are wonderful companions. They give of themselves 100 percent of the time, wanting nothing more than to be loved in return.

I just wish they’d be a bit more quiet about it.

The Weekend Before Christmas

cats christmas

It was the week before Christmas

And all through the house

The kitties were running

In search of their mouse.

They tore through the kitchen

And under the chair

Then disappeared down the hallway

As if never there

The stockings weren’t hung

I’m nobody’s fool

For all that’d be left

Would be shredded in drool

The doggies were eyeballing

The goodies I baked

They had full intention

of sharing my cake

The tree stood by waiting

For garland and lights

The statues and santas

Were stacked way up tight

Christmas cards were patient

For pen and for stamp

My list just kept growing

There under the lamp

I was cooking, I was cleaning

I was staying up late

Worrying about strudel

And empty Christmas plates

The kitties were wrestling

And howling at night

They were drinking milk from glasses

And causing a fright

Then what to my wondering

eyes should appear

But a Food Network magazine

And a bottle of beer

The recipes flowed

Like snow in the hills

With last minute tips

For stove and for grill

On Candy! On Cookies!

On chocolate pecans!

The holiday planning

Had only begun!

Another beer or two

And I was planning gourmet

Pot-au-feu and remoulades

And salmon pate

After the six pack

The tree decorated itself

The dogs baked a meatloaf

With the elf on the shelf

The cats were all dancing

To Jinglebell Rock

The ornaments were hung

On the dining room clock

The beauty of Christmas

Shown brightly that night

My head did a spinneroonie

But that was all right

The turkey and stuffing

Could wait one more day

I took two more aspirins

And called it a day.

Dogs are just Dogs and Cats are just Cats…Right?

rennieAlright. Sad news first. My yellow labrador Renaissance Faire passed away yesterday. She was 11; a great huntress who was sweet and quirky and always knew when it was 7 p.m. and time for her 7 o’clock B(bonie). I was by her side to help her transition to the land of open fields and T-bone steaks; a daunting task, unnerving to say the least. We buried her under a tree next to my favorite cat Jasmine and my father-in-law’s dog Indy.

(Thanks for the good thoughts, btw)

Now the humorous part.

Here I am, 60 years old, walking through tick-infested grass and doggie mines not yet picked up with bare feet to give Rennie her final, eternal 7 o’clock B. Crying, wiping my snotty nose on my shirt, my mind taking over and remembering all slights and hurts real and imaginary, piling them together on top of my loss, fueling the fire that burned out of control. I was whispering baby doggie talk to the grave, babbling nonsense that only a dog would understand.

To the dog.

Not a child, a family member, friend or distant relative. A dog. Dogs and cats are dogs and cats — lower rungs on the food chain that do such innocuous things as lick their butt or eat other animal’s…well…you get my drift.

How many of you have done this?

I’m not sorry for my over reaction — I can stand back and chuckle at myself. For what is life but knowing who we are? Yet I ask…How do dogs and cats become our 1st or 2nd or 3rd child? And where do they get these…personalities?

I know one person whose cat looks at him and poops right in front of him every time he comes home from a long vacation. Another person’s dog won’t go outside to do her duty when the grass is wet. Another person’s cat talks on the phone along with its owner. My own Rennie had the uncanny ability to know when it was 7 pm no matter where we were and what we were doing. Where do they get these quirks? And why is it us that has to do the adjusting?

I know humans tend to anthropomorphize (give animals human traits). We give them personalities and assume they understand what we are saying. Why else would we talk to them so much? Many stand firm on their belief that animals think and feel and react as humans do. And on many levels that is true. I am not here to debate the validity of such things. What I will say, however, is that it is amazing how one little canine or feline can change your life.  They listen without complaining; they don’t hold a grudge when they come to sleep with you at night, and want to be with you all the time. They listen while you go on and on about your crummy day at work or your overbearing mother-in-law or the barking dog down the street.

I’m also not saying that pets are for everyone. Cleaning out kitty litter boxes and scooping up lincoln logs are not for everyone. Often it’s easier to spoil someone else’s dog or cat. Why not? Their love is universal.  Their devotion and energy should say something about how the world should work. They don’t care about the color of your skin or how fat you are or what religion tickles your fancy. Their needs are basic — love, food, and pets.  Something the world should take note of.

The moral of this little ditty is to just love your pets, or your family’s pets, or the pets at the shelter. Treat your fellow humans that way too, and you’ll never be sorry.

Just make sure you always make time for your 7 o’clock B.

Diamonds Are a Pet’s Best Friend

Come on, admit it ― we all wish now and then we lived in the “lap of luxury.” Of course, we are perfectly happy in our little house/apartment, spending time  with with family/kids/friends, and splurging on a Dove Bar now and then.  But now and then don’t you think about noshing on that Dove Bar on a Paris street corner or on a deserted beach in Riviera Maya?

Alas, this little dittie is not about our lap of luxury ― it’s the lap of those who hold precious dogs and cats (and other furry little creatures) that I begin to wonder about. I have three ½ dogs ― two are mine, one inherited from grandpa, and one who spends more time here  than at my son’s. I also have 2 cats adopted from Touched by a Paw. All great companions, hunters, and cuddlers.  We cringe when we have to take them to the vet each year, spend money on their pills, food, chewies, cookies, ropes, grooming, treats, nail clippers, and all  other  paraphernalia, money  that well could have taken us to Vegas. But we grin and bear it, for we love our animals and want the best for them.

Aha!  Want the best for them. That is the key today. What exactly is the “best”?

Nearly $32 billion was spent last year in the pet industry. That includes vets, food, shelters, boarding, etc.  That’s a lot for Bowser and Fifi. But it’s not nearly what could be spent should you do a little investigating. If I may: Here are a few of the wonderful little somethings we  could also spend on our pets (and please do not move the decimals):

Mexican Hacienda Dog House: $30,000

Hello Kitty Crest Dog House: $31,660

Louis XV Pet Pavilion:   $23,900

Cat Cabin:  $1,398

22-K Gold-Threaded Pet Mattress:  $3,000

Versace Barocca Pet Bowl:  $724

Mink fur coat:  $725

Pearl and Diamond Handled Pet Brush:  $400

And then, for the pet who has everything (and for those of you who have a few extra dollars to spend), we have:

52-carat Diamond Dog Collar:  $1.8 million

Dog tiara:  $4.2 million

Now, we all know that these are purposely created as token items. No one in their right mind would walk Bowser in a diamond-studded collar or brush Fifi with a pearl-and-diamond handled brush. But just stop and think ― someone had to come up with this idea; someone had to sit in their little lab and say, “Geez, I wonder what the world will think if I design a mink coat for pets?”

Besides being a topic for morality discussions all night long, I bring this to your attention to point out the lengths we go to pamper those who walk on four legs and lick their you-know-what all the time.  Besides the obvious negative auras radiating around these creations (feed the poor, donate to charities, pay off second mortgages), the thought of  my dogs slobbering out of a Versace dog dish or sleeping in a Mexican Hacienda that costs as much as a car gives me the shivers.  Why do humans go to these lengths to take care of those lower on the food chain?

Perhaps part of it is the feeling of “innocence” a cat or dog emotes. Those big eyes, that  follow-you-around-because-you-are-my-hero antics stir many a heartstring. They are loyal, obedient, and clean (look how often they clean themselves??) They don’t trash their bedroom, drink the last soda, or spend all night on the Internet. They sleep most of the day, eat your leftovers and protect your abode from evil predators like mice and squirrels. Why don’t they deserve a generous portion of your income?

And what of those who fork out those prices to show off the love-of-their-life? For many I imagine the pet is the love of their life. Dogs and cats probably know more celebrity secrets than any group of therapists around. Who else would let you carry them around in designer purses? Who else would look so good next to your Calvin Klein jeans and Gucci bag?  Who else would portray a sidekick (or main star, for that matter) in a movie and let you computerize their mouth to reflect human speech?

I suppose you could say those who dish out for the dish (oh so funny), are compensating for something. Their need to be noticed extends to their immediate family, which,   for some, is only their pets. Husbands and wives come and go, kids leave home, and career opportunities  appear only when you have just had a baby or have just earned three weeks of paid vacation. My mother (and others) always said where there’s a will there’s a way, and W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute. All of this may be true. It’s  up to us and our common sense to find a happy middle ground, both for us and our pets.

I often think the world is upside down.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not living in the lap of luxury.  Perhaps I’d better go out on the deck and teach my dog to move her lips like a human. After all, I wouldn’t mind eating out of that Versace bowl, either…