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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Japan lets oxygen fad go to the dogs

Published October 31, 2008 10:14 AM by Frank Visco
He never blew our minds like Shakespeare did with the existential "To Be or Not to Be," nor did he guide us with words of wisdom like the Beatles' "Let it Be," but heavy metal rocker/philosopher-lite Alice Cooper may have offered the best assessment of modern world when he sang "Nothing's free, eventually, nothings free."

Boy, he wasn't kidding. Seemingly unsatisfied with the fact that people the world over were already paying for one free, Mother Nature-provided resource (see: the rise of bottled water), Japan began marketing oxygen in the late '90s. And now, about a decade later, the oxygen industry has grown so much to the point that oxygen doghouses are being made to offer down-in-the-dumps pups a little air therapy.

Yup, you heard that right - extra O2 for weary dogs - but before we get into all the grisly details let's back up a bit to see how this all came to pass.

Oxygen bars kicked off a huge fad over in Japan with people doling out hard-earned Yen for concentrated hits of a natural gas that surrounds them always. Then, despite the odds, the O2 craze got so big that it eventually creeped over to the United States (Wikipedia tells me it's mostly on the West Coast, but I've seen Oxygen Carts at the Jersey Shore).

If that wasn't enough, Japan soon began marketing canned oxygen, in a variety of flavors no less, before making way for the ultimate oxygen experience - oxygen chambers. Now, on the surface, these products don't seem so bad; after all, they sound like they might actually help people with respiratory problems. Maybe so, but that's not how they're being marketed.

The basic selling points of the Japanese-driven oxygen market is to reduce stress, sharpen the mind, and alleviate fatigue. That's all well and good in my eyes. If people want to trade in their flour-filled stress balloons for a can of O2, good for them. But, I mean, come on... doghouses? Really?

Judging by a simple Google search, it seems the dog-thing started sometime last year when oxygen bars started targeting pooches. Participating dogs were said to be "enthusiastic and ‘barking with vigor.'" Now, assumedly because of dog-demand fueled by enthusiastic vigor, expos are showcasing the O2 Doghouse, a more aesthetically pleasing "dog hospital" that allows owners to climb in and relax alongside their mutts.

Am I wrong here, or has this thing gone a little too far? People already make dogs look dumb enough with little outfits. Do we really need to make them participate in silly human fads as well? In fact, unless dog personification has to do with Snoopy or the playing of billiards or poker, I'm uniformly against it.

If this were for a true medical purpose or we lived on Planet Spaceball I might follow along, but, it's not and we don't. I mean... come on... doghouses? Really?

 (Photo by Josh Parrish under Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons.)

posted by Frank Visco
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