Joanne Palmer: Pay attention, pet pleasers |

Joanne Palmer: Pay attention, pet pleasers

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— I'm always relieved when I discover there are things I will never want to do. I have such a long list of things I want to do — rafting the Grand Canyon, taking my son to Paris, vacationing in Tuscany — that when I hear about something I have absolutely no interest in, like a recipe that calls for deboning a chicken or doing my own taxes or making a diorama for my guinea pig, I think, "What a relief that I don't have to add that to my list."

Yes, a diorama.

For those of you who have never helped a school-age child make a shoebox diorama, let me explain that it's really nothing more than a three-dimensional replica of something, usually a landscape. It requires a shoebox or a tri-fold piece of cardboard, some magic markers and, if you really want to go all out, some pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, plastic trees and people.

Anyway, a friend of mine returning home from a cruise met a woman at the airport who excitedly told her she could not wait to get home to see her guinea pig. She pulled out her camera and showed her 12 pictures of her guinea pig posing in front of 12 different dioramas she had made for him. "Here is Wilbur in front of the forest." "Here is Wilbur in a city." "Here is Wilbur in a tropical paradise."

You get the idea.

I got such a chuckle over this that I started thinking about the lengths some pet owners go to indulge their pets. I started reading, researching and polling friends. Here are some of my discoveries:

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■ Clothes: Animal Planet recently ran a story about a woman who owned two very large iguanas. She had sewn special clothes and hats for her pets and walked them outside daily in their outfits.

■ Braces: They're not just for teenagers anymore. Apparently straight teeth are desirable for Fido, as well. A friend of mine worked with someone who got braces for his Pomeranian to correct an overbite.

■ Puppy showers: In an effort to attract business, retailers are encouraging expectant puppy owners to register at their stores, just like a baby registry. They can coerce one of their friends to host a party and then sign up for crates, treats, dog blankets, chewies, etc.

■ Puppy play dates: Elk River Farm and Feed offers puppy play dates on Sundays and reports they are popular and well-attended.

■ Weddings: A friend reports her grandmother was about to begin breeding Yorkshire terriers, so she had a wedding ceremony for the dogs — complete with a local judge officiating and a wedding cake. I must admit I did a quick wedding for my sheepdog, Humphrey. He looked particularly handsome in a tie, and his doggie bride was radiant in her veil. To perform the ceremony, I think I wore jeans.

■ Birthday parties: Another friend reports hosting doggie birthday parties complete with doggie cake, hats and having the animals sit around the dining room table.

■ Bar hopping with Bowser: OK, it might be a short hop because I only found one dog bar, but wouldn't you know that one does exist in L.A.? "SkyBark" bills itself as "a place for both humans and canines to live it up." It was founded by the creators of the PetaPotty and actually is located on the rooftop of their offices, offering a 360-degree view of downtown Los Angeles and an enormous 3,000-square-foot dance floor where dogs can play. And for "yappy hour," they serve Happy Tail Ale, a non-carbonated, beef-flavored beer with glucosomine. As for the PetaPotty, just picture a box of synthetic grass and a fire hydrant where your pet can do his business while you are at work.

I could go on, but I think I'll stop now and take my dog out for a walk on real grass.

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