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Michael Schaffer: America Is Going To The Dogs

It's Animal Week on Fresh Air; during these last days of summer, we're featuring rebroadcasts of our best conversations about animals and how we live with them.

Like the average American pet owner, journalist Michael Schaffer would do anything for his dog. From booking doggie-hotel stays to engaging elite dog-walking services, he's adopted the thinking of the modern pet-pampering world, "where [we look at] things that we ... think of as normal and ask, 'Hey, can I do that for my dog or my cat?'"

But when he started reporting on the $43 billion industry that brought us doggie antidepressants, puppy networking services and pet fashion shows, Schaffer was forced to reconsider just what it means to be crazy about one's pet. In his book One Nation Under Dog, Schaffer examines the present and past of the "pampered-pet nation."

And as Schaffer follows Fido's move from the backyard to the bedside, what he uncovers actually reveals more about the evolution of the American family than it does about the price of diamond-studded dog collars.

Schaffer has worked as a writer and an editor at the Washington City Paper, U.S. News and World Report and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

This interview was initially broadcast April 1, 2009.

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