Posts tagged ‘unrestrained consumerism’
The engineers at Dyson have come up with a new dog grooming attachment for their popular vacuum cleaner line. The tool is an adjustable brush that sucks the hair and dander it removes from the dog into a vaccum cleaner. The Dyson Groom tool will retail at GBP40 (US$64) and it reportedly fits most of the company’s vacuum cleaners. Unfortunately it will only be available in the UK retailers for the time being.
While the Dyson Groom tool is a pretty nifty idea, I think that the company has the potential to create a much handier tool for dog owners. Dyson’s airblade is a high-tech hand dryer that “… uses sheets of clean air traveling at 400 mph to literally scrape water from your hands like a windshield wiper.” According to Dyson’s specs it does the job efficiently too, using about 80% less energy than heated air hand dryers.
A portable, hand-held version of Dyson’s air blade would be a great dog dryer. I’m guessing that there’s a market for a blade of fast, non-heated air that scrapes water, loose hair and other debris off wet dogs. And while the airblade’s $1,100 price may seem a bit high, a good dog dryer retails for $300-600 and I would guess that with time, prices would drop as they do with most tech tools. Besides a portable hand-held air blade could also be used to sweep and dry horses, cars and maybe even floors (if a wide body model was available).
It’s something I suspect that you probably never thought you’d see here. Nonetheless because I believe I’ve found the perfect low maintenance, high status, impulse purchase – I’m officially promoting it here:
The WowWee Alive Perfect Puppy is, well – perfect. Perfect for families who don’t have time to train or exercise a dog. Perfect for the neurotically fecal averse. Perfect for people who can’t be bothered to take the time to make sure they’re buying their adorable little bundle of joy yuppie status symbol from a reputable internet scam artist.
It’s awfully easy to lie on the Internet. Because it allows us to carefully control how we communicate with others, the Internet allows dishonest people to present themselves as reputable – and it helps them expose their product to millions of potential buyers. Unscrupulous breeders have discovered they can use Internet puppy sales to present a picture of their operation that’s radically different from the one that actually exists. And through a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act, it’s perfectly legal.
Yup. You read that correctly. Internet pet retailers, even those who breed at very large scales, are not regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). While large scale breeders who to sell to pet stores are regulated by the minimal requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, a breeder could hypothetically keep thousands of breeding dogs and be exempt from its requirements if they only engage in direct sales through the Internet. This is a growing problem, and it’s happening right in our backyard.
So when you’re desperately in need of something cute and fuzzy that requires little or nothing in time and emotional commitment, do the world a favor and spend those impulse dollars in a way that doesn’t support suffering and misery.
The WowWee Alive Perfect Puppy – now available in Labradoodle!
The Pet Emergency Evacuation Jacket may be the most ridiculous safety-related gadget I’ve seen. Some genius decided that a combination pet coat and emergency kit was a brilliant idea because, of course – the smartest thing you can possibly do in a flood, fire, tornado or earthquake is grab a panicked animal and bundle it into a bulky, space age strait jacket.
Made from a nifty silver fabric that’s touted as “the same material used by Japan’s world-class firefighters”, the jacket has in integrated leash and carry handle. It’s packed with a muzzle, food bowl, poop bags, a radio, water bags, energy bars, aromatherapy oils and a stylish rain hat and booties. You’ll have to supply your own personal flotation device, parachute and GPS unit. Canine and feline versions are available.
A real bargain at $503 (with shipping).
My brain is still AWOL after last week’s rotator cuff surgery so here’s a bit of fluff pasted together for your St. Paddy’s Day entertainment. BTW – Did you know that blue - not green, is believed to be the original color associated with Ireland and St. Patrick?
Eero Aarnio’s Puppy comes in five colors and four different sizes. It’s a seat, a toy and a charming conversation piece. If I had kids, I’d get a pack of these for them to play with.
Adorable shamrock dog sweater from Scalawags. Available in quite a wide range of sizes.
Love this shamrock collar from Barker and Meowsky. Wouldn’t it look gorgeous on the OddMan?
Lovely handmade Belleek dog bowl.
Shamrock dog treats from K9 Confections. Hand-decorated with all-natural yogurt and carob, they come in peanut butter, vegetarian, and pumpkin flavors.
And beer! You can’t celebrate St. Patty’s day without beer! Howlin’ Dog Draft from ihelppets
…or Heinesniffen and O’Drools from That Pet Place
A rare piece for our unrestrained consumerism files
The Amour Amourdog collar from Love Dogs Diamonds may be the most extravagant dog collar ever made. The one-of-a-kind, platinum, white gold and crocodile collar is studded with 52-carats of diamonds. Reportedly going for a cool $1.8 million, the collar features 1600 hand-set diamonds of up to seven carats in size.
If this one’s just a wee bit rich for your budget, the company also offers a group of more affordable dog-collars including the Juene Cheri, Amour de la Mer and – my favorite - the refined, masculine L’Etoile which go for prices ranging from $280,000 to $480,000.
Each collar is custom-made, fitted specifically to your dog – and the firm will tailor each design to your specific tastes.
We covet the cool things other people have – and we live the age of instant gratification. Deficit spending, whether we’re talking about credit cards or the national budget, has become the norm rather than the exception.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that renting is increasing in popularity.
Renting used to be limited to real estate, appliances, cars, furniture and tuxedos. But the market has expanded to include a mind-boggling array of goods.
Today we can test-drive luxury by renting the latest in designer handbags, sunglasses and jewelry. Some high-end stores allow customers to rent high-end runway and vintage fashions instead of buying them. Galleries let patrons rent works of art for special events or lease them by the month. Vacation rental and fractional-ownership businesses offer everything from destination vacations to yachts, jets and collectible cars. And its not just hard goods, now we can rent pets and even grandparents.
Jodi Watson, chief marketing officer of the high-end fashion rental business Bag Borrow or Steal was interviewed earlier this year by the Washington Post:
“Renting is the new buying,” says Watson. “You can experience everything you want without having to make the commitment.” “It allows people to enjoy a seasonal or trendy item without having to clutter their closet or explain it to their husband,” she says.
Schwartz argues that the expanding number of choices places a cognitive burden on us. It’s stressful making choices. We arbitrarily narrow our choices, with each narrowing requiring cognitive effort. The more choices we have, the more narrowing and effort required. And if the decision is about something of minimal importance, such as the picking of the best salad dressing from the store shelf, the amount of effort required outweighs the potential benefit. We evaluate the amount of cognitive effort we put into decisions based on the benefit, or expected utility, we would get out of the decision. If we’re forced to put too much effort into a decision for too little return, we walk away.
We need ways to reduce the cognitive load, bringing it in line with our expected utility from the decision. We need choice. We prefer options, even if we never choose them. But, as we start to consider our choices, there are finite numbers that we can cognitively consider at a time. One is too few, and dozens are too many.
Everyone agrees that having choice is better than not having choice. It seems evident that if choice is good, then more choice is better. The paradox is that this “obvious” truth isn’t true. It turns out that a point can be reached where, with more choice, people are worse off.
People can’t ignore options – they have to pay attention to them. If they make a choice, is there another choice would have been better? There’s more effort put into making decisions, and less in enjoying them. What’s nagging is the possibility that, if they had chosen differently, they could have gotten something better.
In modern, affluent societies, it is nearly impossible to find an area (except, of course, for politics) where the amount of choice available to us isn’t overwhelming. Because of the insane number of choices available to us, we are choosing more often just to opt out - either because we’re worn out from the effort involved or because we think that postponing the decision means that more options will be available to us.
And when we do suck it up and make a decision, we tend to be less satisfied with our choices. When we are forced to make a final decision on something utterly irreversible (like euthanasia) even if it’s a terrible thing, we feel some sense of relief. Our stress is decreased because when we make a decision we can’t take back, the thing is done, our mind finds a way to cope with it and eventually, we move on.
But the choices we can indefinitely postpone – or worse yet, those we can take back – are a lot more problematic. After settling on a decision such as which of two suitors to date or where to go on vacation – we often expend an enormous amount of effort wondering if we really did do the right thing. Because of this, these decisions have a tendency to make us feel unsettled. They add to our stress instead of decreasing it. And in today’s world, we are inundated in these kinds of decisions. They have come to dominate our decision-making processes.
Three Dog Life writes:
In the 1930′s there was an enormous economic crisis in this country. Today we’re dealing with a new crisis… a poverty of consumerism… meaning we never have enough. As one writer put it, we’re “thirsty in the rain”. We have overestimated the benefits of stress-free lives, and oversold the positive effects of smooth, non-challenging childhoods. We reward our offspring’s mediocre accomplishment, instead of challenging them to do better, all in an attempt to build self-esteem. We buy all the latest material goods for our children to make up for time not spent with them, instead of giving them a sense of purpose by allowing them to work and save for what they want.
Of course we don’t live “stress-free” lives. In fact, the chronic, undifferentiated stress we experience today is far more damaging than the periodic episodes of acute, focused stress we are evolutionarily adapted to cope with.
Wondering if we bought the right car. Or if we should lease instead of buying. Deciding which route to take through city traffic. Having to decide which items, out of an endless array of goods, we’ll take home and have for dinner. Though on the surface they seem minor, these decisions expose us to enormous amounts of chronic stress because not only are we forced to expend the effort to make hundreds (if not thousands) of these types of decisions each day – but the decisions we make regarding these issues rarely give us any sense of resolution.
Escaping an attacking dog might, on the surface, seem to be a more stressful situation than those described above – but once our coping decisions have been made, the attack has been thwarted and Cujo safely restrained, we feel a great sense of relief. Or even elation. The issue is resolved. It’s over. We avoided injury (and hopefully insult) and not only lived to do it again, but hopefully learned new ways of coping along the way.
Not so with those pesky reversible decisions. After competing in an obedience trial we wonder: Should I have worked harder on the finish? Did I use the wrong collar? Would an outdoor trial have been a better choice? Ironically, though my life and health were never at risk, I’m exposed to far more stress from a trial I win than from an attack I avoid.
Maybe I should have rented…