From diamond-studded collars to special kitty sleigh beds, gays and lesbians treat pets like royalty
Larry Nobles treats his 8-year-old Italian greyhound, Clare, like a queen.
"She deserves it," Nobles said. "She’s really sweet and she’s happy when I get home. And she seems to understand when I’m not in a good mood."
Nobles, of Dallas, adopted Clare, whose breed is known for its affection and companionship, wearing a Tiffany dog tag.
While the phenomenon of pampering pets isn’t restricted to the LGBT community, there are many LGBT members who dote on Fido.
"Certainly a lot of gay people have pets; they have dogs instead of kids," Nobles said.
But Nobles said he doesn’t believe it’s limited to any certain demographic.
"I think people pamper their pets for the same reason people pamper their children and are nice to them," Nobles said. "For gay people they are sometimes a child surrogate."
In addition to Clare’s sea of toys and treats, she also has two heated beds.
"She’s really small and she gets really cold," Nobles said.
Nobles also pampers Clare by taking her to pet parties for birthdays and other occasions.
"I take her to socialize," he said, adding that it’s good for dogs to socialize.
Nobles thought of having a party for Clare, but hasn’t been able to make it work — yet.
Todd Randall spared no expense when it came to his 5-year-old dachshund, Turner, named for the tail chasing he did at 6-weeks-old.
While on a trip to New York earlier this month, Randall bought the 10-pound pooch a diamond-studded collar that bore a price tag of nearly $12,000.
"He’s my child," Randall said. "I don’t have children, so I choose to make his life good and spoil him. Sure, I’m probably extreme on some things."
Randall said he would have never thought about spending the amount. But he saw it and just decided to get it. He said the day prior he received a large bonus from work and decided to give his dog a treat.
"I don’t know if he knows how expensive it is," Randall said. "But he knows he is one stylin’ dog."
Randall said his friends have teased him "mercilessly" about the purchase.
An estimated 63 percent of American households own pets, with cats in approximately 88 million homes and dogs in 75 million.
In a 2007 survey by Community Marketing Inc., which gathered data from 25,000 LGBT Americans, 61 percent of gay men and 83 percent of lesbians have a pet. Thirty-eight percent of gay men and 59 percent of lesbians have dogs and 28 percent of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians have cats.
Jessica Layden of Frisco has two cats that she spoils.
"They go to kitty day care for my long days. They board in style when I go out of town, and they have way too many toys lying around," Layden said. "They also have their own room with the quite expensive [cat size] sleigh beds."
While Layden wouldn’t say how much the beds cost, they appear to sell for about $400 to $600 each.
"They are my children," Layden said. "I don’t have to send them to college, buy them school supplies or any of the other things like that. So, I’m sometimes extravagant when it comes to them. They are my babies."
Layden said when she comes home at the end of the day, "those two cute faces" greet her.
"Even after the worst day, they make me feel like, ‘It’s all OK, you’re here with us and we love you,’" Layden said.
April Prohaska is owner of The Pooch Patio in Dallas where dogs and their owners can go for pet parties, to relax and have a lattÃ©, surf the Internet or just hang out.
Prohaska said pets are a $40-billion-a-year business.
"People always look for the next best thing that will make their pet’s life that much better," Prohaska said.
She said 40 percent of her business is from the LGBT community.
"Gay people love to nurture and pamper their pets," Prohaska said. "To be honest, I’m seeing more of a trend in exceptional dog lovers in gays and straights."
Sometimes she sees people hold back on buying something for themselves, "But they have no qualms about purchasing a $32 collar for their dog."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2008.