In the marketing world there’s an acronym for a sought-after population of potential buyers—DINKs. Duel Income, No Kids. These childless, two-income couples generally have greater discretionary income than other market segments, and they’re targeted for luxury goods, expensive cars and vacations, and other trinkets. Marketers know if and when children come along they’ll probably slide down into less affluence buying categories for these types of items and services.

Another demographic that appears to be growing, and is becoming increasingly attractive to marketers are folks who are known as DONKs. Dog Obsessed, No Kids. Now defunct Brandweek Magazine reported several years ago, “There seems to be no limit to how much money people will spend on their dogs.” When that report came out, it was estimated people in the U.S. spent up to $36 billion each year. That figure has risen, right along with dog ownership. For 2016, it’s estimated that $62.75 billion was spent on our canine companions.

Surveys by pet related industries tell us over 92 percent of their respondents say they “kiss, hug and pet their dogs daily.” Another states at least one-third of American dog owners celebrate their dog’s birthdays. Also on the rise are dog bakeries, pet resorts, specialized medical practitioners and clinics, doggie spas and luxury boarding facilities.

Last year a variety of new dog products were unleashed. For people concerned about their dogs becoming lonely during the day while home alone, a product called iFetch was designed to keep them occupied and happy. The automatic ball-fetch machine is a gadget your dog is supposed to be able to operate herself but some complain the $100 toy is almost too complicated for humans to figure out, much less their canine companions.

To alleviate your dog’s curiosity about what’s going on outside his fence, you can purchase a nifty product called PetPeek Fence. This acrylic dome, which is installed in your fence, claims to “deter overly curious dogs from jumping over fences,” and can “reduce risk of injury from attempted escape.” This sounds mighty ambitious but I have to admit the photo of a dog grinning through this spaceship looking dome is quite convincing. What is not convincing is the array of hardware, a black trim ring, the actual dome, and the promise of easy installation.

One of the coolest products I found was a pedal mounted doggie water fountain for just under 50 bucks. It’s attached to the water hose and is activated when your dog presses on the pad that’s shaped like a large dog paw print. Never again worry about a sticky water bowl that can get knocked over or become filthy during the day. Fresh water is available at the touch of a paw! Knowing our dogs, Mojo and Mooch would probably keep activating it and flood the back yard.

My hands-down favorite new gadget is, of course, the most expensive one, and the only product that requires broadband Internet access. For $380 you can buy a PetChatz HD videophone that lets you communicate with your pet from anywhere. The product provides two-way visual access so you can see, hear, speak to, and even give your pet a treat while using your smart phone, computer or tablet. It also provides sound and motion detection that will alert you to your dog barking at the UPS guy or bumping into the table with vase of roses on it. For an extra cost you can buy an accessory that lets your pet call you.

All the new gadgets and gizmos are not quite as expensive or high tech as this one though. If you worry about Fido getting soggy on his morning walk, for just $8 you can buy a transparent waterproof pet umbrella and raincoat combo that comes with a leash. The trick is getting this contraption on your dog before getting out the door. It looks super cute in the ads but I can only imagine trying to wrangle this thing on Mojo or Mooch. Thus far we’ve resisted these new accouterments. At the moment, balls, bones and tattered but very comfy dog beds rule in our home.

Contact Deborah Camp at Deborah.camp@comcast.net for comments or suggestions.

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