Aquatic therapy and massage...for dogs!?

Having never owned a furry pet, I find it really, really difficult to understand how and why some people pour so many resources into the well-being of their dogs.  I mean, I think dogs are lovable and endearing and can be seen as "part of the family," and I certainly believe they should be treated humanely and given proper nutrition/shelter/exercise.  But the thing that gets me every time is that in many cases, dogs in this country live about 50x better than many human beings do, in other parts of the world.

You can imagine my reaction to the recently launched Rex Center, aquatic fitness just for your canine pals.  Complete with swim coaches, assisted swimming, canine massage, and aromatherapy--keep in mind that these services are NOT for medical purposes, though it sounds like they can be used for rehab.  I saw this come through my e-mail inbox and I don't think my eyes could roll any further back in my head.  Maybe there I am missing something very crucial, and maybe some readers will be thrilled to discover this find.  But I just don't see why animals deserve such luxurious treatment (essential oils and aromatherapy!?) when human beings in so many parts of the world face poverty, malnutrition, abuse, and injustice.

Folks might be interested in Michael Schaffer's look into America's obsession with their pets in his new book, One Nation Under Dog.

I understand I may not have the full picture and my strong feelings about this may very well be self-righteous and misguided--if so, someone please explain what I'm missing.

2 responses
I think, though I could be wrong, that the disclaimer about not being medical/rehabilitative is insurance-mandated legalese. Everything I've seen from the founder seems to be revolving around quality-of-life and alternative therapies for dogs that are living with chronic illnesses like arthritis, etc. And while it's true that most such dogs live many times better than humans in other parts of the world, the existence or not of a doggie pool isn't likely to change that situation :/
Until I moved to Oakland, where my landlady loves her many dogs and cats dearly, my roommates insist upon caring for three cats, and my girlfriend has a dog and a cat, I shared your sentiments exactly. I am still on the fence about actually getting a furry pet larger than a breadbox, but I see the appeal now.

Animals don't need college funds or attend soccer practice and love you unconditionally. And they're a helluva lot cheaper than children.