TV has gone to the dogs

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I suppose it was only a matter of time before there was a television channel developed especially for dogs.

It was one of those “now I’ve heard everything” moments when an email from DISH Network popped up, offering DOGTV for just $4.99 a month. They claim it’s the first TV channel scientifically designed for dogs, “to make them happier and less stressed when home alone.”

I couldn’t help but read further, not because I would ever order a TV channel for a pet — we don’t even have a dog — but because I am constantly amazed at the amount of money people lavish on their pets these days.

Last year Americans spent $69.5 billion on their pets, the American Pet Products Association reported. That’s up from $58 billion in 2014.

An intriguing New York Times article titled “The Secret Price of Pets,” written by Peter Haldeman last month, mentioned how famous people are spending big bucks to have prosthetic testicles implanted in their neutered dogs, in an apparent attempt to preserve their pets’ self-esteem.

And who knew pets were getting plastic-surgery procedures, not only for cosmetic improvements such as tummy tucks and nose jobs, but also for bigger operations.

“Dogs and cats are also going under the knife for hip replacements, heart surgery, even gender reassignment,” Haldeman’s article revealed. Later he added, tongue-in-cheek: “Perhaps in time the growing trans pet community will embrace its gender-nonconforming brothers and sisters (male dogs who squat to urinate, females who mount).”

Anyway, back to DOGTV, the network says its puppy programming is organized into relaxing, stimulating and exposure segments that work together “to provide just the right balance for the daily routines of our beloved ‘stay-at-home’ pups.’”

And don’t worry. The canine-friendly content won’t turn your pooch into a couch potato, it promised.

America’s obsessive-compulsive nature borders on crazy when it comes to its dogs. Some dog owners are now getting their pup’s fur colored because hot-pink curls look so cute. They dress them up, feed them expensive organic food, sleep with them and take them on planes as “emotional support” pets. I couldn’t believe the number of small dogs I saw at airports this summer, but it made for some interesting entertainment when two miniature Schnauzers got into a brawl at the gate where I was wiling away time in the Fargo airport.

Please understand I don’t dislike dogs. I grew up with farm dogs who were fed table scraps and earned their keep by helping bring in the milk cows every evening. We loved them and played endlessly with them. I have two beautiful “grand-dogs,” both purebred Akitas who get plenty of treats when they visit.

In the end, though, dogs are dogs, not people. I think we can love them enough without giving them testicle implants or purple fur, or spending insane amounts of money that quite frankly could be going to any number of more worthy causes. A little moderation seems like a fetching idea.

Features Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or

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