| [Photo: Peter Redman,
DOGGY BAGS: Penny Milne totes Angel (left) and Gizmo in the ABYS (Always By Your Side) Pooch Pouch she designed.
Dogs have proved my undoing. I've had a few, one as recently as Christmas, which is why my editor suggested I go to the All About Pets show this weekend. "You'll love it because you have a dog," she reasoned.
"Not any more. I sold him," I felt I had to admit. Then I added proudly, "And I doubled my money!"
I heard a deep intake of breath at the other end of the line, then she sputtered, "Sharon, you flipped your dog!"
It does sound bad, I know, but when I confess my recent sell-off to Terry DeMarchi, an organizer of the pet show, she says lots of people find they don't like being pet owners but most won't admit it. She says she's just happy my ex-dog has gone to a good home. "I'd rather that than some people who stick their dogs in their backyards and then they're completely ignored."
So, with DeMarchi's blessing, I feel free to be my dog-loving, non-dog-owning self and enjoy the show.
I start at the dog-show arena, where the cute little furries perform traditional doggy tricks -- spinning, barking and jumping -- and watch the crowd go wild for Casper, Fly and Spunky. But I can't get past the fact that this is all about the unceasing quest for food. The dogs never take their eyes off their trainers' treats.
Next it's on to the champion cats, the Ferret Aid Society (devoted to rescue and adoption) and the Parrot Club.
"Why isn't there poo all over the place?" I ask.
"Everyone cleans up right away," I'm disappointed to learn, knowing how my house looked after a brief period of dog ownership.
I stop to pet a cute little guy. "This is an abusive dog," says the owner, and I quickly withdraw my hand. "Don't you mean abused?" She did, but I must admit I've met a few abusive dogs in my day, not all with four feet.
The exhibit booths are truly wild and woolly, with every animal product you can imagine. There's even a pet psychic.
But my favourite is the one touting kosher food for dogs. There, I talk to Arthur Zack, the Canadian distributor.
He is a most earnest chap, who tells me that a man in the States, a Christian, was sick, so he bought kosher foods in the hope that they might help him. They did. When his dog got sick, he gave the dog kosher foods and the dog got better. And the rest is history.
When I respond with some skepticism to the idea of a kosher dog diet, Zack produces a letter from Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, from the Chicago Rabbinical Council, who declares the product acceptable for anyone (or any species, I guess) who observes Jewish dietary laws. To my amazement, Rabbi Fishbane has even noted that some of this dog food is acceptable for use during Passover. I guess some dogs are more devout than one might think.
Zack, a former chartered accountant, offers more than kosher dog food. There's the Cool Pooch, a sport water bottle "for you and your best friend." The top has a cup with a second straw so you and Rover can drink from the same bottle on those long spring walks. Then there's a Ruff-Minder dog toy that attaches to your pet's water bowl. When the water level gets below a certain point, the Ruff-Minder berates the owner for neglect. There's a pet strobe that attaches to your dog for safer walking late at night. "If your dog runs out on the road, he can be seen with half-mile visibility," says Zack.
I'm happy to report that Zack, the dog-product entrepreneur, doesn't have a dog. Ha, I'm not the only one.
"But we have cats," he adds hastily, and for Fluffy there are a range of products, including the Panic Mouse, an interactive, high-tech version of the old-fashioned mouse at the end of a fishing rod that amuses cats for hours. It, I learn, won the Best Cat Product award for 2002 and 2003 from the American Pet Product Manufacturing Association, so it must be a real kitty pleaser. (If you want to know more about these products, call 905-707-0208.)
I must admit, I feel a bit left out as I watch loving pet owners purchase bags upon bags of toys. Poor Scrooge-like petless me has no four-legged creature to spend my money on. Ah, the silver lining.