Petistic exposes pet-owner excess

Blog chronicles the absurdities people lavish on their animals

September 14, 2006|By Jessica Berthold | Jessica Berthold,The Morning Call

If you think dog yoga and cat massage are the height of animal absurdity, you haven't seen Petistic.

The blog ( reveals pet indulgence at its most extreme with links to products such as penguin sweaters, tiny sheep booties, gold crowns for cat teeth and pet baptizing kits.

But the site isn't just a Sky Mall for the animal world. It also highlights breaking pet news (Two fighting fish cause a house to burn down!) and animal research on subjects such as whether dog IQs vary by breed.

Petistic. Because you never know when you'll need to buy braces for your turtle.

Belgian writer Regine Debatty, 35, is also the creator of the popular art and design blog We Make Money Not Art. She lives in Turin, Italy, and runs Petistic with the help of a few fellow Europeans. How did this blog start?

It started with my friend Nicholas Nova, who is a blogger and technology researcher in Switzerland. We both don't like animals. We don't hate animals, we just find that people can be ridiculous about them. So we kept exchanging e-mails about ridiculous fashions for dogs or stupid gadgets for pets, and eventually decided we should do a blog. Do you actively seek content or just post stuff you run across?

Just what we run across. We are all super busy, so if we find something funny, we post it. We made the blog to amuse each other. How is it that you run across this kind of thing so often?

Nicholas and I both have an interest in animals and technology. People are living with technology more and more, and now it's starting to spread to where people are trying to imagine how the technology can be adapted to animals. What are some examples of that?

You read about people outfitting squirrels with global positioning systems, or putting an LED at the end of a dog's tail, so that when he moves his tail fast it creates a message. Part of this research is serious and part of it is just seeing what is possible. Where is this research being done?

There's not really one place. The one I just mentioned is in London, and there's some stuff in Singapore, like a place that invented jackets for chickens that let you caress the chicken remotely from a computer. What's the biggest trend now in pet gear?

Enhancing communication between the pet and owner. It can be one-way communication like checking what your dog is doing from a mobile phone designed for your pet, or something two-way that will increase your relationship with your pet. Why is there such a demand for this stuff ?

People view pets as friends or companions, or nearly human beings, and want them to enjoy these technologies like they do. Have you ever met anyone who owns this sort of stuff?

No. I know people who would love to but can't afford it. A lot of these inventions seem to come from Japan.

Yes, the craziest stuff always comes from Japan. Everything there is just more extreme and more tech-advanced. Some of the things that we think look weird and strange are things we adopt two or three years later. So Japan is ahead of the curve?

Maybe they're ahead, or maybe we just get used to their ideas and say "why not?" Do you have any pets?

My boyfriend has two dogs. I like them quite a lot but I hate living with dogs, so it is cathartic for me to do Petistic. Does he buy the kind of stuff for them that you put on the site?

Oh no, no, no. He's totally normal about them.

Jessica Berthold writes for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.


In a word:


E-candy for:

People who dress their pets for every holiday. People who laugh at people who dress their pets for holidays.

In sum:

Blog featuring strange animal inventions, gear and research.

This blog as a person:

Dr. Doolittle.

Sample topics:

The opening of a new theme park for dogs in Beijing. The launching of a Thai Internet radio station for dogs. Research into whether cows have regional dialects. A German dating service for parrots.

Classic post:

"Your furry friend could now get inked-on attitude thanks to Pet Science Labs' Petattoos: temporary, water-based pet tattoos. The flexible rubber stamps imprint canine coats with statements like "Cats Suck," "Who's Your Doggie?" and "K-9 Supermodel." (Aug. 9, 2006).

Making it happen:

Regine Debatty, 35, a Belgian writer living in Italy.


November 2005


A few times a week.





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