After subscribing to several, I quickly realized that the writing was substandard and the topics began to repeat pretty quickly. I've tried picking up copies over the years in hopes of a change for the better, but it's been more of the same, with an increasing amount of really bad reader-generated content. There have been some new titles out that are better (Bark immediately comes to mind), but still aren't quite what I'm looking for -- a well-written, informative, but most of all, FUN dog magazine.
So when I saw Modern Dog on the newsstand, my heart soared. The subtitle identifies it as "The lifestyle magazine for modern dogs and their companions." But it was the look of the cover that got me: kind of like Cosmopolitan meets Dog Fancy. Emmanuelle Vaugier, a very attractive up-and-coming young actress, is holding her equally attractive toy poodle, Lily. The cover is emblazoned with headlines, a la Cosmo: "How Fido can lead you to love" and "Are you and your dog more alike than you think? Why your dog likely looks and acts like you."
The cover also proclaims it to be "Our biggest Ever! 144 awesome pages of fun & useful dog tips, trends, must-haves." Indeed, in these days of more and more woefully thin 'zines, I'm surprised by the heft of the magazine. I can honestly say that every single article is well-written and interesting. Reader-content is kept to a minimum, with the exception of the page at the back wasted on dog horoscopes.
Like any devoted pet guardian, I probably spent as much time looking over the products in the ads as I did the editorial copy. There are some big-name sponsors like Petsmart, 3M (Dental Treats) and Mars (Cesar dog food) but also many small ads for boutique stores around the country and Web-only products. And you just gotta love the full-page screaming ad for Urine Gone! (I have no doubt that the spokesdog is owned by Billy Mays) and the quarter-page ad for Neuticles, which are "Testicular Implantation for Pets. It's like nothing ever changed." Seriously.
Modern Dog is published out of Canada, so you do have to get used to the Canadian spellings (like favourite instead of favorite), and some of the copy is Canada-centric (a feature on a vet hospital in Vancouver.) But for the most part the articles would appeal to dog lovers anywhere.
The piece about "How Fido Can Lead You to Love" would interest anyone who has ever observed that dog parks are the new singles bars. The article equates different types of people to different breeds of dogs and theorizes that you should think about what characteristics in a person you are attracted to and what breed of dog that would be. "That perennial bad boy you can't get out of your system? Only dream of dating him if you're attracted to a breed like the Affenpinscher" or "The woman who is a glammed-up advertising exec might be a lot like a Poodle: Highly intelligent but a little high-maintenance." All bets are off when it comes to mutts, of course.
There's a lot of "news you can use," including an article about how to make your own dog food (in light of the pet food recalls due to tainted ingredients from China), and also a guide to "green" companies with a conscience. The "ask dog lady" feature focuses on various problems related to dogs, such as a woman whose date didn't pick up after his dog during a walk they all took together on the first date. Should she dump the slob? Dog lady says "no" since the guy was kind-hearted enough to adopt a mutt from the pound. "Give him another chance to clean up his act," advises dog lady.
A Q&A with spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle (author of bestseller "The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment") is a little out-of-character for the mostly tongue-in-cheek tone of the book. But it's fascinating and like nothing I've ever seen in a pet-oriented magazine. Tolle, who is photographed with Maya, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, talks about the role dogs can play in helping people to be happier. "I believe dogs are keeping millions of people sane who would otherwise become deeply neurotic in our alienated world," he says.
Thinking like that makes you feel less silly for reading a dog magazine, now doesn't it?