From Shaman’s Rock
By Jim Poling Sr.
I’m in California visiting my American granddog Rusty.
Rusty has had a rough year or so health wise. Breathing problems and fatigue that appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pets can catch Covid, but the dog doctors don’t think that’s what Rusty has had. They prescribed him drugs and a special diet and he slowly is improving.
So I decided to give him a lift with a personal visit. You know, bring him a bag of doggie treats and scratch his ears.
But this is California and a pat on the head and a bag of milk bone treats won’t do it. If you want to make your pet feel good here, you take it to its favourite restaurant.
There are several pet restaurants here, some simply dog friendly, others that service both you and your dog and some that serve dog meals only.
So I take Rusty to the Dogue Cafe, which offers fine dining for dogs in San Francisco’s Mission District. It offers fresh, raw meals prepared by chef-owner Rahmi Massarweh, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef.
Dogue has a tasting menu for $75. It includes bone broth and mosaic chicken, which is white meat wrapped in nori, a Japanese edible seaweed.
That’s pricey so I order a $15 rose-shaped pastry made with antelope heart. It comes on a white plate with a fork and Rusty and I take a seat at a table. After I feed him the first forkful he leans forward, snatches the rest off the plate and swallows it whole. That tells me it must be delicious and worth the fifteen bucks.
Canine restaurants are not just another California curiosity. Their numbers are increasing across the United States.
The Wilson, a well-known Manhattan restaurant, offers a canine menu to folks who want to dine out with their dogs. For $42 you can order your pet a 16-ounce ribeye steak with steamed vegetables. Or you can get Fido pan-roasted true north salmon with lemon ($28), or something lighter like a bowl of sliced apples and “heirloom” carrots ($11).
There also are dessert places for dogs, like the Salty Paws ice cream parlors that serve dog-friendly ice cream in cones, cups or waffle bowls. The company boasts 22 locations across the U.S.
Even some big outfits like Shake Shack and Starbucks have dog snacks for folks who feel uncomfortable enjoying a caramel cappuccino while their four-legged pal has to sit by and drool.
And for dog walkers who want to get their hound a snack while out strolling, there are dog food trucks like The WoofBowl in Los Angeles and Bow Wow Bones in Texas.
The pandemic brought a significant increase in pet ownership in both the U.S. and Canada.
The Canadian Animal Health Institute reports that dog numbers increased to 7.9 million in 2022 from 7.7 million in 2020. The U.S. dog population is estimated at 65.1 million.
Despite rough economic times 65 per cent of Canadian pet owners surveyed say they are spending more on their pets. Canadian dog and cat food sales increased eight per cent last year. U.S. sales of pet products are predicted to hit $143.6 billion this year.
Places for pups to dine in or snack out are increasing, but they remain lacking in large swaths of the country. However, if you really want to treat your dog to good, genuine dog dining in a far-off place it’s becoming easier to get it there.
Transporting pets usually means using commercial airlines that have strict rules and no guarantees of a comfortable flight and safe arrival. Most airlines transport pets in wire cages placed in cargo holds.
The U.S. Department of Transport says 200 pets, mostly dogs, died on flights during the
last decade, an average of 20 deaths a year. Worries about bad outcomes have prompted pet owners to demand better for their pets.
Enter private charter air services like K9 Jets in the United Kingdom and VistaJet in the U.S. that allow pets to fly in the aircraft cabin with their owners. VistaJet offers your pet a soft mat to sleep on, toys to play with and prime cuts of meat to snack on.
A dog’s life is not looking so bad after all.