Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where is Charles Dickens when we need him?

   “If we were to move again, now that I’ve had this space for Lola, I would want it again,” said  Melanie Dean, referring to her dog. “It’s hard to go backwards.
   Ms. Dean was talking about the “pet suite” featured in her Dallas house.  According to an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times  Business section not too long ago, these pet suites are an option in more and more homes being built, and a typical one is 170 square feet and includes a tiled washing station with leash tie-downs and a hand-held sprayer, a pet dryer, a cabinet with built-in bedding, a stackable washer/dryer combo (separate from the human laundry room ), a flat-screen TV and a patio door that opens to a dog run. One developer says that this is building houses with the lap dog of luxury in mind.  Ms.  Dean reports  that having the pet suite helps keeps her dog’s things organized and that her parents are getting a new house with a pet suite. 
   I suspect that Ms.  Dean, who didn’t have a dog when she moved into her house and liked the pet suite, and her parents aren’t among the 4 in 10 Americans who are “just getting by” or struggling to do so five years after the Great Recession, as the Federal Reserve found in a survey.  The survey, which revealed that some people are worse off than they were five years ago, was reported in an article on the same page as the pet suite story. 
   These two articles on the same front page really tell a tale of two societies.  It truly is the best of times and the worst of times when, according to one article, dogs have their own flat-screen televisions to watch while, according to the other article, one-third of survey respondents say that they had put off medical care in the prior 12 months because they could not afford it (presumably, Obamacare has since kicked in for many of these people). What else can you say when one article on the page talks about the booming pet-care industry, expected to reach about $60 billion this year and capitalizing on a trend that experts call “pet humanization,“  featuring fitness programs, organic, gluten-free food, some even prepared by private chefs and including $7-per-ounce caviar (salmon roe for dogs and trout eggs for cats)  first made “as kind of a joke, “ and spa-like kennels that offer full-body massage, detoxifying thermal wraps and transportation in a Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini Gallardo while the other reports that one-fourth of households have education debt of some kind, averaging $27, 840, leaving one-fifth of the borrowers behind in payments or facing collections, a significant number of people rely on family and friends for money and fewer than 40% of households had a rainy-day fund to cover expenses for three months? 

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