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Happy Birthday

March 5, 2008 |  1:23 pm

Southern California pet owners have embraced gourmet food, holistic veterinary care and doggy spas. Pet therapists are just a phone call away. .... perhaps to treat all those dogs who have yet to be feted with a party. But wait!

The Associated Press reports: Canine birthday parties, puppy showers and doggie play dates are growing in popularity. An industry has burgeoned around pet owners - particularly empty nesters or young couples without children - who savor opportunities to spoil their pets. Spending on pets doubled between 1994 and 2004, when Americans laid out $34 billion; last year it was $41 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association in Greenwich, Conn. Pet boutiques and online retailers offer a variety of birthday-party items, including custom invitations, birthday cakes and doggy favors. Some sites offer ideas for party games such as bobbing for biscuits, homemade agility courses and dog treat treasure hunts. One baker in San Diego specializes in painting dog portraits on cakes and business is booming.

Next up: Puppy's first tooth-fairy pillow? Puppy's first-Christmas ornament? Puppy's first growth chart? The world is your dog's horizon.

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