My brother has selected a puppy for his family's pet—a Parson Russell terrier pup he'll call Wrigley (he's a Cubs fan)—but even before all the kids play with it I'm wondering how I'll feel the day Wrigley gets married.
Will the "bride" wear white? Will I begin to cry, like a big fat baby?
When the "reverend" performing the pet marriage says, "By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you dog and . . ."—is that when Satan pops out of the wedding cake and takes us all straight to hell?
Also, how much for the Pet Wedding Consultant?
"It varies," said famed pet counselor-wedding consultant Shirley Scott, from Walla Walla, Wash. "It could be between $500 to $1,500. But that's just an estimate."
I found Scott's name in a recent, and terrifying, news report on the American pet wedding phenomenon. Americans spend $40 billion a year on their pets, and the pet wedding industry wants its cut. There are fees for clerics to say the rites and blessings, and black tuxedos for four-legged grooms, and cakes and caterers, and beaded satin wedding gowns.
"Your little bride will be so beautiful walking down the aisle wearing this elegant, fully-lined white satin and lace wedding gown set," promises one pet wedding Web site I won't name in the hopes of staving off damnation. "The six layers of tulle can be separated to make this beautiful wedding veil very full and elegant. This set also includes a matching white satin leash."
Another dog wedding Web Site, for My Uptown Pooch, offers beaded wedding gowns for up to $10,000, tips for measuring for dog couture and also offers these suggestions:
1) Call where the ceremony will be held to be sure that your dog will be allowed. 2) Have someone standing by, in the event your dog needs to leave the ceremony. 3) Realize there is a lot of activity at a reception. Maybe your dog should be taken home where he or she can settle down. You don't want him/her trampled at the reception while everyone is dancing. 4) Do you want your dog to match your maid of honors [sic] dress or bridesmaids?
Remember when Americans were asking why Islamofascists hate us so much? Now you know.
"Marriage for an animal is almost like marriage for a human," Scott was quoted as saying in the pet wedding article. "An animal union is more like a blessing under God."
I'm always on the lookout for another sign of the Apocalypse. The last one involved reports of Americans craving $400 per pound gourmet coffee beans from the behind of a cat. Now dog unions are considered blessed events.
"Yes, an animal union is a blessing," Scott told me. "It is."
"Well, I am a reverend," Scott said. "If you're in a family with two animals and they want to unite in a wedding, what difference does it make? It is not a sign of the Apocalypse. It is a sign that animals often seek to form a lasting bond and have deep commitment."
When I was a kid, we owned a male cocker spaniel. He formed a lasting bond with a vinyl beanbag chair in the basement—nobody dared ever sit in it—but at least he had the decency not to propose marriage. But I didn't have the heart to tell Scott.
I also didn't have the heart to tell her what would have happened to her eyeballs if Rev. Scott could travel back in time and bring her dog marriage theology to 8th Century Constantinople, when the Empress Irene was busy battling the Iconoclasts.
Instead, we talked pet marriage. Turns out the pet marriage community isn't as tolerant as some might think. Dogs may marry other dogs, but human pet clerics frown on cross-species marriage.
"You must consider what's in their DNA first," Scott said. "It is the DNA that drives them. I have several friends who have cougars. They love their cougars. Their cougars love them. But they wouldn't turn their backs on their cougars or they'd be prey. You must respect the DNA."
So I guess that rules out the cougar-baby goat marriages, eh?
"Cougars wouldn't get married to goats, for that reason, the DNA," she said. "That union wouldn't work."
We had the same problem at our house a few years ago. It involved a pet crawfish named Boeby. He lived like a lonely bachelor in an aquarium in the kitchen. But he seemed sad, and we humans thought he needed companionship. So we tossed a goldfish in there, to live with him, in sin, just as we were having our own dinner.
Overjoyed with his new friend, Boeby immediately climbed into the green waterweeds, claws up, swaying along with the vegetation. It only took about 30 seconds for Boeby to grab the fish and snip a gigantic chunk out of its belly. Boeby kept half of it in his claws. So much for mixed marriage.
"That's why I brought up the DNA," Scott said. "You have to respect the animal differences. You have to consider the DNA of the pets, to look inside to the center, to determine if they're compatible."
And when they're not compatible, we'll have a new trend: dog divorce lawyers, ready to clean up.
Special Thanks to The Chicago Tribune