The story for the December issue of Gloria Glam was lots of fun – until I started crunching numbers. And then compared them to some other numbers…. It was a story about a dog’s life in Hollywood. There’s a ton of dogs in LA, and they can be considered the winners of this crazy game: they are mostly rescued and live in the same luxury like their owners. The wonderful thing to learn was that the City of Los Angeles is very serious with its No Kill policy and it’s aiming towards not having to euthanize a single dog in 2018. (Just to give you an idea: in 2015, there were 27,000 dogs in Law’s shelters.). Celebrities are being great role models with this by proudly showing their rescued best friends: Charlize Theron rescued four dogs, Sandra Bullock three and Miranda Lambert six. The list goes on.
Surprised that all these Angelinos who work from home still employ dog walkers, I found out that the US dog walking business currently earns $907 million a year and employs 23,000 people. Dog walkers in this town charge up to $30 an hour (to put this into perspective, minimum wage is $15, and this is what most baby sitters will charge), and some boast with their yearly salaries of $150,000 or more. But as a celebrity’s dog walker Annie Lever will tell you, it’s not an easy job and it requires big discretion (yes, there’s sarcasm in my voice). She gives an example of mistakenly mentioning the dogs name while at the dog’s Mani Pedi place – alas, it was an enormously famous singer’s dog - so by the time they were ready to leave, a bunch of paparazzi waited for them outside of the door. Only in this town.
I discovered dog gyms for $25 an hour (my ballet class costs $12!), dog yoga, doggie & me boot camps, dog swim classes, dog surf competitions. Dog spas in which washing a dog can cost up to $195 and there are insane things on the menu such as a hydrating masks for $25 or various holistic healing treatments (like acupuncture and TCM) for $250. Dog boutiques offering dog diamond necklaces for $150,000 or Louis Vuitton bags for $3,000. Dog psychotherapists that charge $200 and hour. Doggie and me couples massages.
And then there are dog hotels. A whole bunch of dog hotels where a night costs $200 and the doggie’s room includes a queen bed and a huge flat screen TV (?) and the doggie can kill his wait for the rich owner in an inside park, at a gym, a spa, during aromatherapy, with a massage or pedicure. As if that wasn’t enough, if the poor doggie is used to sleeping in human company, the hotels will organise someone to sleep with him. A Hollywood dog won’t go to the hotel in just any cars – the hotel will send a vehicle of your choice, be it a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche or Rolls Royce, to pick up the pooch.
And if all of this didn’t make you angry with the world we live in, here’s the most insane information I found: the US pet industry is growing so quickly that it is expected that by 2019, it will reach $92 billion (currently, $30 billion goes to pet food). Africa receives $30 billion in international aid a year. I went over this numbers over and over again, hoping that I’m wrong. If you can prove me wrong, dear reader, please let me know – I’d love to be mistaken on this one.
As I concluded – "Africa is so far away from Hollywood" (yes, sarcasm again). But it isn’t. And that’s exactly the problem of our current reality.