VILNIUS - As the saying goes, dogs are man's best friend, and if economic indicators are anything to go by, this love we humans have for dogs seems to be growing. People are spending more money each year enhancing the beauty and comfort level of their pets; businesses like dog hotels and dog hairdressers are booming, and there's even a thriving fashion industry for small dogs.
Lithuanian celebrities pose on magazine covers with their little dogs and spend small fortunes catering to the whims of their pets. But extra care for these petite friends is becoming popular within the non-celebrity population as well.
With cold weather now here in Lithuania it's common to see little dogs, packed in tiny sweaters and coats, trotting down the street.
The first dog clothing appeared in the Lithuanian market about 2 years ago, and according to Kika, one of the largest pets shops in Lithuania, the demand for pet clothing is now increasing exponentially.
True, some dogs, such as Yorkshire terriers, need clothes in winter to prevent them from freezing. But today clothing has become a trend for all small puppies.
Lithuanians are still not quite so fanatical as the English, who actually have separate dog clothing departments in regular human clothing shops, but we're catching up. The price for dog suits ranges from 30 to 300 litas (8.70 euros 's 87 euros). Bear in mind that the minimum wage in Lithuania is a mere 600 litas.
While it's understandable that a person might want to treat their furry friend to a winter outfit, it's a bit more difficult to see the reason behind the accessories that pets are now wearing, some of which even include famous Swarovski crystals. And as a twist to the old custom of dogs pulling sleds, there are now doggie carts so that the little pampered creatures can travel from place to place, never needing to walk in the cold snow.
And, of course, every fashionable puppy must have a stylish haircut, so there are dog stylists who specialize in precisely which haircut suits each individual dog. According to a hairdresser in the local salon, Nuaras, depending on its breed a dog might need a haircut every couple of months, at a cost of around 100 litas.
Once your beloved pet has its beautiful wardrobe (complete with accessories), would you even consider leaving it home all alone when going away for your holidays? Of course not! And thus the doggie hotel industry was born. Surfing the Internet you'll find hotels where the little ones can play outside with other dogs, eat their favorite food, and even receive a little training from professionals 's all for a mere 20 litas per night.
The one dog-related business that is not yet popular in Lithuania is dog walking. Even though I've seen a couple of advertisements offering to "Walk your dog while you are at work," it seems that dog owners still have some trust issues and do not want to lend the keys of their homes to strangers. Ah, but these issues can't be that serious; after all they do trust their hearts to their little dogs.