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SOURCE: Pets join in on the organic food trend, Los Angeles Times, July 2011

Until I moved to the United States, my relationship with dogs was based on their primary role as watchdogs and guard dogs in violent urban environments. I soon discovered that dogs in Los Angeles are much more than just pets. They are family. Even the Pit Bull!

Two Sundays ago, I went for an afternoon walk along the Venice Beach boardwalk. In spite of the signs prohibiting dogs at this time of day, a number
of people dragged their pets through the mass of bodies flowing in both directions. Then I spotted the black and white Pit Bull – on a leash and no muzzle – walking beside his male provider. Mr. Pit Bull appeared calm and at
ease among the crowd. I took no chances; I kept my distance.

On the lighter side, I must admit that I find some canine breeds adorable and irresistible. It’s no wonder that they are so well cuddled and kissed. On the bus and in shopping malls, I admire the well-behaved small breeds, like the Yorkshire terrier and the Maltese, who snuggle up in pet carrier tote bags close to their providers’ hearts.

Cashing in on our love and attachment to our pets, large pet shop chains cater to all our pets’ needs and tempt us with even more must-have foods, treats, and accessories. At the Global Pet Expo, earlier this year, thousands of new products were launched to make them healthier and happier. Specialty animal clinics and hospitals take care of our canine’s health. If we can fit it into our budget, there is also animal health insurance available to cover treatments, surgeries, lab-fees, X-rays, and more.

I envy the good life of our pampered canine companions who are living the American Dream. Although we currently face foreclosures, layoffs, no health insurance coverage, crippling medical debt, and state budget deficits, we continue to provide for them. They have captivated our hearts and minds. They are the perfect companions. They make our bleak and solitary lives more bearable. When a mud slide buries us, they do not desert us.

Can our homeless and hungry children, needy of our generosity and love, compete with the highly evolved, successfully adapted, domestic canine species?