Dog Fancy

There are few things on Earth I love more than my dog. Possible candidates: Bacon, things that taste like bacon, Penelope Cruz, my first dog (a golden retriever puppy, which I had for just six weeks before by my mother cruelly gave him away. I was 10), "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver, women who look like Penelope Cruz, Fun Dip, and my aforementioned mother, who recently started subscribing to Magazine Rack. Wave hi to the nice media people, Mom.

But for all my puppy love, I have never picked up a copy of Dog Fancy. Yes, Dog Fancy, the canine equivalent to that ubiquitous publishing punchline, Cat Fancy. Personally, I never knew it existed, and a wildly informal survey of other magazine-reading people reveals that neither has anyone else. Turns out the two launched just five years apart -- Cat Fancy in 1965 and Dog Fancy in 1970 -- so why is one so well-known and the other obscure? I have my theories.

Mostly I blame the name. Dog Fancy? Come on, now. Dogs are not fancy, and nobody acquires one in an attempt to be fancy (as with all things, Paris Hilton doesn't count). Dogs are smelly, hairy, dangerous, occasionally disgusting creatures who will crap on your carpet, capsize your garbage cans, and lick themselves silly during your dinner party. Yet dog owners love them manically. Clearly "Fancy" is not what we're aspiring to. Bad name. No! [Doug swats magazine publisher on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.]

Of course, plenty of good magazines have overcome bad names (I'm looking at you, Paper). Does Dog Fancy? Eh, kinda. I mean, it's not trying to be Vanity Fair or anything. Its mission is simple: provide tips on dog rearing interspersed with bits of dog-related entertainment. If this is what you're looking for, then Dog Fancy is probably worth the cover price. But not every month.

Why? Because raising a dog is kind of like dermatology: there are a million problems and two cures. Dog is chewing the furniture? Try rewarding good behavior. Dog won't heel? Give him a reward when he does. Growls at the mailman? Reward! Eats the mailman? Euthanize! Stretching such advice across 150 pages gets old fast.

Thank god there is a multibillion-dollar industry built around helping -- or is that exploiting? -- the nervous American pet owner. Whether through advertising or "news you can use" editorial bits, the shock-collar salesmen, doggie-toothbrush vendors, modular pen manufacturers, and breeders -- dear God, the breeders! -- help fill all that space. In the end, the June issue felt a lot more like a sales catalog than a magazine.

But again, this ain't Vanity Fair. Faulting Dog Fancy for being too commercial is like faulting your mother for inflicting childhood trauma: There's really no other way to do the job.


Published by: Bowtie Magazines
Frequency: Monthly
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