When you read my headline you may have thought you’d be reading about one of the Madoffs of our world, but I’m not quite brave enough to tackle that topic.

The title is literal, although I’ve never quite understood why so many phrases refer to dogs with negative connotation.

I’m a dog lover myself, and yes, I’m one of those weirdos that refers to my dogs as my kids, babies, or even snookums (and maybe even a few other terms of endearment, but I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough here without sharing them all).

Now, I’m not one of those “moms” who prances my canine kids around in sweater vests and designer collars – not because I don’t think they are adorable, I do, I’m just too cheap. But, like all good parents, I do love them unconditionally and I can’t help but notice a change in dog culture through the years, or more appropriately, dog couture. And it’s clear that I’m not the only pet parent around.

There are doggie day cares, dog hotels, dog spas (or sPAW, ahhh), boutiques, bakeries, and other dog luxuries yet to make their way to the Midwest. When did this happen? How in this economy, do we afford to feed our dogs organic, groom them at spas, and buy them leather biker jackets?

It’s not just our four-legged friends who are reaping the benefits:  a person can make a living – a good living – walking dogs, dog sitting, or even being a poop picker-upper. Given our current economic situation, it’s interesting to see such an industry thriving. I’m not saying that this is the new tech bubble, because really, it’s not that new. Those silly little French pooches have been visiting Louis Vuitton before I was born, not to mention the welcome they get at restaurants, hotels (the human kind), and pretty much everywhere in Europe.

Maybe we were just slow to find the joy in pampering those that love us unconditionally, lick our tears, warm us when we’re sick or cold, and always look at us in a way that says they know far more than we give them credit for. Perhaps they deserve more of those healthy, yet delicious looking cupcakes in the glass case at the dog bakery.  In any case, it’s an industry that has grown, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.

If you have a dog, spoil them with cookies or scratches, or whatever it is that makes them bark.

If you don’t have one, get one.

Oh, and one more thing – I lied earlier. My dog has a plaid fleece jacket and two pairs (or would you say quads) of boots – courtesy of my mother-in-law:  “Their little paddies get cold in the winter.”