WHILE the rise in popularity of such US-based ‘icons’ Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian in recent years represents a dearth in the genuine nature of celebrity culture, whereby one can now be admired and lauded for doing pretty much nothing at all, this global phenomenon coincides with an increase in a fascination for pets. Once seen as a humble member of the family, and often required to sleep outside in a kennel, domestic pets such as dogs have enjoyed a prominent increase in status of late. Having become the ultimate fashion accessory for the elite, pets now enjoy a situation whereby many people are often taking the same care of them to the same degree that they would their own children.

And so, for those not content to carry their dogs around in their handbags every day, a range of doggie day care centres has opened around the country in recent years. Why worry about leaving your dog at home when you have to go to work, when you can conveniently drop him off at a day centre and enjoy all manner of services on offer. Now, let’s forget about starving billions living in the 3rd World for a moment and take the time to contemplate this relatively new craze for those with a truly disposable income.

After first getting a whiff of the idea from across the pond in Stockholm, Finland’s first dog day care centre opened its doors in Turku in the early 2000s. Now, with numerous others centres on offer around the country, man’s best friend can bask in a range of indulgences such as full body massages and pampering, in order to give them the celebrity glow we all apparently feel we could use these days.

Increasingly found in many other Western countries, this fad originated in the US and is just the tip of an iceberg that includes pet-related services such as beauty parlours, hotels, car seats, insurances, cemeteries and dental care. Not to be outdone, with more and more people increasingly living alone with their pets, it is not unheard of for people to testament their belongings to them.

James O’Sullivan