If there was any doubt that the sellers of wholesale pet products need never worry about the health of their industry -- even in a poor economic climate where cheap closeouts outsell more expensive pet supplies - recent events have erased it. The widely awaited and controversial appointment in a historic new presidential administration has turned out to be a six month-old Portuguese Water Dog named Bo. The day the long-awaited young canine actually appeared on the White House lawn, the press swarmed and the story eclipsed an economic emergency, major foreign policy changes, and innumerable controversies across the political spectrum, eclipsed by fierce questions from the President's critics about Bo Obama's non-rescue dog status. For a time, journalists even stopped writing about Michelle Obama's arms.
Let's face it; this country is crazy for pets. Particularly on the Internet, it seems to induce a form of serene pet madness. The extremely popular blog I Can Haz Cheezburger consists of nothing but pictures and videos featuring cats, dogs, and assorted animals with captions in a dialect crafted to sound as if pets themselves were actually writing them. This vein of humor goes back at least as far as the 1980s and a classic Gary Larson cartoon in which some dogs try to tempt a feline cat enemy into a washing machine with a promise of "cat fud".
On a somewhat more rarefied level, for whatever reason, many American political bloggers across the political spectrum engage in the practice of "Friday catblogging" which is basically an excuse for blog proprietors to post pictures of their beloved cat felines, lazing about looking very unconcerned with the rages and disasters that so occupy the minds of their owners. And as for Facebook and other social media, pictures of dogs, cats, and anything else furry and cute, are regularly posted in bulk.
As for older media, it has always been the case you can't leave a television set on for more than a few minutes without seeing cats, dogs, rodents and birds - and not only in ads for pet supplies. And, as the recent success of "Marly and Me" proved, dogs still rule the box office as much as they did in the movies' early days - before "Old Yeller" and even 1939's "Lassie Come Home" -- when German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin's tales of dog daring helped popularize the Shepherd dog breed in North America and saved Warner Brothers Studios from financial disaster.
We're pet mad. Whether it really is because of urban alienation, or the fact that many of us are delaying childbearing (or putting it off entirely), Americans spent some $41 billion in 2008 on pets, including wholesale pet products, pet food, dog and cat toys, veterinary care, pet hotels and all the rest. And, while economic shifts might cause some of us to, say, resist the urge the buy the fancy cat toy and may slow down adoption rates and pet store closeout sales to some degree, the pet business isn't going away, though cheap, bulk wholesale pet supplies will clearly be more popular for awhile. Woof.