What recession? High-end pet boutiques stock over-the-top pet gifts
BEVERLY HILLS — Sanderella has 150 collars and leashes, 200 couture dresses, 300 bows, a designer bed in every room and standing appointments with a groomer and an acupuncturist.
The 17-year-old Bichon-poodle mix rides in a carriage, eats macaroni and cheese from a bowl that has her name etched in gold, and has a pink mink made by Saks Fifth Avenue.
So what do you get for Christmas for the dog who has everything?
"Definitely bling. We love bling," said Margaret Souders, 68, who owns Sanderella and Samantha, a 19-month-old Bichon frise. "I'm addicted to my dogs. I love them to pieces. My whole life revolves around them."
Sounders is a regular customer at the Beverly Hills Mutt Club, one of many high-end pet boutiques where the sky is the limit, from Rodeo Drive stalwarts like Neiman Marcus, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Coach and Saks to online marketplaces where pet gifts can run in the thousands of dollars.
The Mutt Club is small but bursting with things made of Swarovski crystal, pearls, cashmere, wool and Italian leather. Jewels and canine couture are bestsellers, said Celina Bojorquez, who owns the shop with her mom, Sandy Siegler. Other customers include Sandra Bullock, Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Sarandon, Billy Joel and Vince Neil, Siegler said.
Sanderella's first Chanel leash and collar cost $650. Her bow collection alone probably cost $9,000, Souders said.
Some of the most unusual gifts for pets this year include a video camera, treadmill and dog house air conditioner for $549, said Geoff Mott, president of PetGadgets.com.
The Eyenimal pet video camera with built-in microphone sells for $135, fits on your pet's collar and can shoot up to 2 1/2 hours of continuous video. The treadmill comes in three sizes, and three prices -- $599 to $1,499.
Many pet retailers donate some proceeds to animal causes.
Dsquared2 put a pair of $190 limited-edition leash and collar sets on the newly launched yoox.com Pets Boutique, with all the proceeds going to Much Love Animal Rescue in Los Angeles. A luxurious $486 Manfred of Sweden lambskin coat can also be found on the yoox site.
Dogs aren't the only pampered pets. The "My First Hamster Home Kit" from Petco can be upgraded with a couch, television set, lamp and other furnishings, said Petco spokeswoman Sandy Robbins.
For the cat who has everything, including an owner with time and patience, Robbins suggested a $69.99 Litter Kwitter, which will help you teach your cat to use a toilet instead of a litter box. Or try the Litter-Robot self-cleaning litter box that sells for $329.99 on litter-robot.com.
A floor-to-ceiling cat tree for $299.99 is one of the most popular items at Drs. Foster & Smith, the largest catalog and online seller of pet supplies in North America.
You can also buy your fish a new home -- a Marineland Monterey Super System 220-gallon aquarium, stand, canopy, filtration system and 72-inch light -- for $5,199.99. Saltwater coral grown next to the company's Rhinelander, Wisc., offices can go for hundreds more.
But at Christmastime, a dog's life is not so bad. An Associated Press-Petside.com poll found that 56 percent of dog owners say they'll buy their pets a gift this Christmas, but only 48 percent of cat owners plan a gift.
At the Ruff Ruff Couture boutique, a block from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, one of the hottest items is the Snuggle Sack, an ultra-suede, double-quilted, faux fur-lined pet carrier with a Swarovski crystal brooch for about $125, said owner Jaimie Pergament.
A Swarovski crystal lead will run $275 to $600 at the nearby Mutt Club, where an Italian-made diva bed is priced at $1,500 and a handmade wool coat with fleece lining costs between $120 and $180.
Still, even the most pampered dog can't mask a certain natural musk. Eau de perfume for dogs comes in Puppy Love, Vanilla Woof, Peaches and Cream and Big Dog.
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-- Sue Manning, Associated Press
Photo: A Swarovski crystal dog collar on display at the Beverly Hills Mutt Club. Credit: Richard Vogel / Associated Press