Once upon a time, if you were in the market for a new best friend, all it took was a walk to the local dog shelter. After an hour or two, you'd have your pick of the litter, a free leash and collar and a month's supply of dog food; the rest of the friendship was up to you. Today, dog ownership can be a high-maintenance endeavor. In order for your pick of the litter to end up on top of the heap, 'tis best to pamper appropriately and consistently, not unlike any other courtship. And I don't mean the occasional T-bone from Peter Luger's, a pat on the head and a tennis ball. I'm talking studded tiaras, Louis Vuitton outerwear, and fur. Canine caveat emptor. The most obvious way to show your dog and your neighbors that you care for your canine deeply is with that piece they wear every day -- the collar. Dog-only designers like Mrs. Bones carry reasonably-priced luxury collars made of the best materials. A variety of collections keep your canine current, so your pup won't be embarrassed with last season's look. High-end designers from Coach ( COH) to Louis Vuitton also have created soft leather leashes and leads that keep both you and your pal cutting-edge and callous-free. After the leash and collar, the next important item is footwear. Booties are practical, and an important safety measure. Every winter dogs get shocked when melting snow and salt electrifies the concrete on roads and sidewalks. Booties help counter the current. New York- and online-based Doggie Do and Pussycats Too offers a variety of lightweight booties and thick tread "hiking boots" to keep dogs safe and comfy for on- and off-road excursions. One can find a variety of outerwear options, from haute Ralph Lauren ( RL) slickers to Aussie Dog designer Yap Wear sweaters. Mega-shops like PetSmart ( PETM) offer dog clothes ranging from apres skiwear and pajamas to sundresses and sailor dresses. For more athletic dogs, Petsmart carries tennis dresses for the gals and collared shirts and sweater vests for the gents. You'll never have to worry about getting thrown off the court again, unless you're at one of those exclusive "no dogs allowed" clubs.
Onto every dog's favorite accessory: jewelry! These unnecessary ultraluxe items let the world know your dog is more than just a mutt. Go the extra mile and have her name engraved on her collar with rhinestones, or buy an anniversary pendant telling the neighbors you'd adopt her all over again. Nothing tames a terrier like a tiara, and what precious poodle wouldn't walk a little taller with bows in her hair? All these and more are available from Trixie and Peanut . After all that cat-walking at the dog run, your dog will be plumb tired, and ready to relax in something a bit more premium than your typical LL Bean dog bed. These days it's about cozy indoor dog tents, doggy divans and sleeping bags. If you sleep soundly in a wrought-iron bed, why not buy a matching one for the pup? These beds are available in a variety of designs, from sleigh bed to day bed. Sleek modern leather divans can be found at Lex Viola .
If all this relaxing makes her highness fatigued, take a constitutional without her pretty paws ever touching the ground. The human sherpa can carry a smaller dog in a pet pouch , or wheel her along in a dog stroller . If the distance is too far for human legs, most cities offer pet limo services, like New York's Pet Chauffeur or for even further destinations, services like Happy Tails Travel , which offers complete pet relocation services around the globe. Is it tea time yet? Treat your dog to a gourmet bakery-style snack from Buttercup's Paw-tisserie . These unique baked goods have no added sugar, salt or preservatives and are made with fresh meats, roasted nuts and organic vegetables. If you're trying an alternative culinary approach like vegetarianism, veganism, or even raw foods living, why not bring your pet along for the ride? Stella and Chewy's makes raw, human-grade freeze-dried meat treats for animals, so they can rip into that cryovac and have raw meat the way nature intended. Wysong and Natural Balance develop vegan and vegetarian dog foods for those furballs following a more compassionate path.
But wait, let's not forget Petunia's social calendar! Humans may have Friendster, but for four leggers, there's Petster . Find a walking friend, a playmate, or just another Labradoodle in the neighborhood. Post pictures, favorite parks, and even your pet's astrological sign. Community-building sites like New York's Urbanhound helps the dog owners connect with one another and sell used dogs clothes, reference top dog walkers, groomers and borders, and keep the community alert about dog parks in disrepair. And let's not forget the ultimate in doggy pampering -- the luxury getaway. Every town has its dog spa, but the well-loved dogs are being whisked away to luxury dog camps. Especially important for city dogs that have little access to anything green, weekends away can be just the antidote to a stressful week of sitting around the apartment waiting for your owner to get home. Bed and Biscuit offers getaways in New York's Hudson River Valley while owners are enjoying themselves elsewhere, and Camp Dog Wood North offers a retreat for dogs and their owners in Ontario, Canada. After all this, Spot should feel like the Queen of Sheeba. But if for some reason this fails to impress, you can always do what I do when the pupster is feeling a little low: fresh water, tasty kibble, a good steady petting session and a game of fetch. Some things never go out of style.