From posh pet spas to stylish doggie sunglasses, the pamper-your-pooch phenomenon is showing no signs of abating.


A dog's life has never been something to sniff at. Style emirate Yves Saint Laurent was just following in the footsteps of past passionate pooch parents when he commissioned Andy Warhol to paint his beloved Moujik, and photographer William Wegman's current retrospective at the Brooklyn Musuem proves that one can build a fabulous artistic career by dressing up dogs. Yet the latest wave of posh pet services, fashions and accessories show a perennial push to place pups in premier class. "Dogs are becoming increasingly important within the family dynamic. Since they are not prone to weird complexes, they are much less complicated companions in the modern search for affection," says British journalist Toby Rose, founder of "the world's first dog glossy," DG (Dog Quarterly), and a pamper-your-pup pioneer. "As a result, people are adorning and indulging their pets, not in an attempt to show off outwardly, but because they want their pets to benefit from the best comforts available," says Rose, who, with the help of his fashion-forward canine, Muttley, officially placed pups in the limelight with Palm Dog, a festival held at Cannes that recognizes the year's best canine performances.

Raising the comfort quotient of these new-fangled celebrities has become a howling international obsession, with lip-smacking pet products entering the market by the minute. "Now it seems essential for all designers to do doggie diffusion," says Rose, who is currently drooling over Inès de la Fressange's new collection of chic canine coats with elegant Chanel-inspired piping and patent leather details.

In countries like Japan, where living space is scarce, owning a dog is a status symbol on par with luxury logo-toting. For those who lack the space to comfortably keep pets, Rent-a-dog services are popping up to help maintain the opulent image.

Yet, when it comes to today's modern pooches, status is more than fur deep. In England, Prince Charles is championing a new project that uses magnetized dog collars to treat canine arthritis; the American brand Doggles just released a shatterproof series of stylish doggy sunglasses that block 100% of UV-light; in Paris, Mon Bon Chien, the first exclusive dog pastry shop, prepares sumptuous four-star canine treats to satisfy body, mind and soul; and pets vacationing in the Cote D'Azur can now primp and prime at Tout'Ouvert, a colorful dog beauty salon designed by Matali Crasset.


For the inside scoop on the rise of posh pets, we interviewed Kasia Wandycz, author of "Cabot: Chien de Stars," published by Assouline.

How did you dream up the idea of this rather unique collection of portraits?
By observing the important role that these dogs played in their masters' lives, both physically and psychologically. I wanted to highlight their special status by isolating them in a portrait, by treating them like real members of the family and celebrities in their own right.

What reaction are you hoping to elicit from viewers?
A profound respect for these animals that do genuinely possess a soul. I also thought that people would get a kick out scanning the face of each dog in order to try and guess the identity of their owner.

Do you think that these stars treasure their dogs so much because they feel that they appreciate them for their true selves rather than merely for their celebrity status?
No, I actually think that these pets act as reminders of a healthy way of living that one can easily forget. When your care for them and lavish them with affection you're rewarded with unfettered loyalty, love and total devotion. Something that stars perhaps crave more than other people, but you'd really have to ask them if that's indeed the case!

Do you think that your book is the reflection of a wider social phenomenon, a growing doggy delirium?
I'd say so. Dogs seem to represent a feeling of wellbeing that people in today's society are craving for more than ever. Though I think its rather positive that this feeling is found in human-to-dog contact, I do think that's it a shame that its not through more human–to human contact...


USA

The Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 Sunset Boulvard,
Beverly Hills
www.thebeverlyhillshotel.com
The hotel's 'Canine Connoisseur Programme offers amenities ranging from posh custom-made doggie beds and bowls to personalized dog cookies.

The Ritz-Carlton
50 Central Park South
New York City
http://www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/new_york_central_park/
The Hotel's complimentary V.I.P. (Very Important Pooch) plan includes aromatherapy treatments, gold ID tags and home-baked treats.

Le Chien
1044 Third Avenue
New York City
If your doggie diva enjoys silk kimonos and designer denim, you're barking up the right tree at this luxury address.
www.lechiennyc.com


Ritzy Canine Carriage House
148 East 40th
New York City
It's doggie deluxe at this glamorous spa with private suites, limousine transportation and therapeutic massage menu.
www.ritzycanine.com



Europe

The Dorchester Hotel
Park Lane
London W1A 2HJ
www.thedorchester.com
Take Rover on whirl through the exclusive new pet shop at The Dorchester, opening in June 2006.

Hotel Principe di Savoia
Piazza della Repubblica 17
Milan
www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com
Long a favorite of the jet set and the pet set alike, the Principe has a special room-service menu for peckish pooches, including tasty low-calorie options.

Mon Bon Chien
Patrons of Paris' first pastry shop for pups are yelping with pleasure.
12 rue Mademoiselle
75015 Paris
www.mon-bon-chien-paris.com

Tout'Ouvert
It's beauty and the beach at designer Matali Crasset's colorful day-spa loft for dogs.
54 Boulevard Joseph Garnier
Nice
T. + 33 (0) 4 93 97 02 54

For more on William Wegman's current retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum (through June 4, 2006 ), visit: www.brooklynmuseum.org
(hidden link)
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/william-wegman