It’s a dog’s life for Singapore’s pampered pets

It's a dog's life for Singapore's pampered pets

SINGAPORE: The guests lean over the side of the boat to catch the morning breeze as their catamaran eases off from a jetty in Singapore. A typical cruise, except for the fact that the passengers are dogs.

“Actually, this is their third cruise,” said Andy Pe, 43, the doting owner of two Black Labrador Retrievers, a Yellow Labrador, a Golden Retriever and two mongrels. “They enjoy the sea breeze and water so much.”From boat cruises and spas to their own obituary section in the leading newspaper, pets are pampered in a big way in Singapore, a city-state with one of Asia’s highest standards of living.

Boat owner Joe Howe, 48, started the Pet Cruise company last July.

His 26-foot (7.8-metre) motor catamaran, which comes with a swimming deck, has a fully-stocked cleaning station and life jackets for dogs.

On weekends, a basic cruise lasting two hours costs Sg$40 ($32) per guest – human or pet – or Sg$400 to book the entire boat.

Howe, a retired broker who now leads an average of two cruises every week, has even had people bring pet tortoises on board.

Young couples are having pets before they have children, it’s a stand-in, and at times even a replacement (for kids),” Howe said.

Owners concur. “They are very much like my kids because I’m single and I have some time on my hands,” said Pe as the vessel made its way to Seletar island, where his dogs went for a splash in the sea.

Singapore Dogs

According to official data, there were 57,000 registered dogs in 2012 in Singapore. A densely populated island of 5.3 million people, the majority of its inhabitants live in high-rise apartment blocks with little room for dogs to run.

There are more than 250 licensed pet shops in the city-state, many of them operating in shopping malls, offering everything from hamsters priced at Sg$10 to pure breed dogs costing thousands.

Marcus Khoo, the executive director of Petopia, a shop which offers dog grooming services as well as board and lodging, said owners are willing to pay a premium for their pets’ well-being.

The shop’s modern interior has a wall of doggy collars and glass panels through which owners keep an eye on pets undergoing various treatments.

“People now understand that quality canine lifestyle is not just a roof over their heads and food,” Khoo told AFP.

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