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Designer clothes, organic food and cakes - all for pampered pooches here

She has told her husband that he is not the love of her life.

Instead, Hammer, an 11-year-old miniature schnauzer, has her heart in his little paws.

"My dog is very important to me," says Mrs Evelyn Chew, a lecturer in her late 30s, giggling.

For the record, her husband tells this reporter that he is "resigned" to it, albeit with a rueful smile.

Indeed, Hammer was part of the couple's $3,000 wedding photoshoot.

Mrs Chew even forked out an additional $500 at the shoot so that Hammer could get a series of professional shots done.

And these are not all the perks this fur-kid gets to enjoy.

It walks around with a Coach collar and leash, as well as a Gucci dog tag.

Pet parents like Mrs Chew, who are willing to splurge on their pets, are fuelling new businesses. (See report on facing page.) Dog clothes, custom-made soaps and doggy day care, you name it - myriad shops have opened to cater to this demand.

Hammer also enjoys a weekly full-body massage given by a home-visiting therapist from Pawsitive Sensations, a company dedicated to professional canine massage therapy.

BIRTHDAY PARTIES

And on Hammer's birthday, which falls on Sept 3, Mrs Cheworganises a get-together for the dog and its canine friends to celebrate the occasion.

Says Mrs Chew, also the mother to a 13-month-old girl: "I'll do the usual - get him a birthday cake, get some dog cupcakes and prepare goodie bags for both the dogs and kids if my friends are bringing their children along."

Each of these affairs, which she has had annually for the past 11 years, come up to about $2,000 each time, but she doesn't mind the cost one bit.

She explains: "If you can afford it and want to spend money on your dog, why shouldn't you?

"It's a short life for them, so why not let them enjoy it while it lasts?"

Hammer has been with her since it was just three months old and the bond between them is "unbreakable", Mrs Chew says.

Indeed, on almost every holiday she has gone on since, Mrs Chew has invariably returned with a present or two in hand for the little one.

She admits that she can get homesick because she misses her dog. When that happens, she writes postcards to Hammer to tell him details about her trips. "I can't tell you how many postcards I've written to him in the past because there are just too many."

The postcard sits in her mailbox until she returns. Then, she sits and reads them to the dog.

Mrs Chew laughs and says: "I was even thinking about creating a book with all my postcards to Hammer.

"It would be a good way to document my trips, don't you think?"

"If you can afford it and want to spend money on your dog, why shouldn't you? It's a short life for them, so why not let them enjoy it while it lasts?"

- Mrs Evelyn Chew, on her willingness to spend on Hammer

This pup eats off Swarovski crystal-encrusted forks

LIVING IT UP: (Above) Betty with its owner, Ms Hayley Dexter. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB/ MAIL ONLINE

Meet Betty, possibly one of the world's most pampered pooches.

How so?

Let's just say that the maltese has a wide range of fancy paraphernalia, including its own bedroom with a custom-made bed and an entire wardrobe of dog apparel.

The cost?

Some $60,000.

Talk about living the good life.

Betty's apparel contributed to the booming pet accessories market, valued at $1.5 billion in 2013, in the UK alone, according to one report.

This mollycoddled dog lives in Essex, north-east London, under the roof of its besotted owner, Ms Hayley Dexter.

Indeed, Betty is hand-fed and eats off Swarovski crystal-encrusted forks.

In an October Mail Online report, Ms Dexter, 37, who runs a five-star dog hotel and spa called Essex Pooch Palace, describes Betty as "very spoilt" and "a real princess".

"Betty has us wrapped around her little paws," she added.

The spa, where Betty also has a room, offers spa services and paw-dicures, among other services.

Apparently, the pup is also never seen without her signature bling - a diamond collar, a gift from one of Ms Dexter's clients, along with her customised pearl necklace.

PROM DATE

Ms Dexter's daughter even brought Betty as a date to her prom, and they had matching dresses.

"We designed and made it especially for Betty," said Ms Dexter, a mother-of-three.

At the prom, surely Betty could not be expected to walk around on a leash. So Ms Dexter's daughter pushed the pup around in her pink pram.

Some call the relationship love, while others deem it absolutely ridiculous.

But Ms Dexter said it was down to "harmless fun" for her "absolutely dog-crazy family".

Retailers of premium dog products

HAND-MADE: Miss Zee Xu (left) and Miss Geraldine Chua are the owners of ohpopdog.com, a company that sells hand-sewn dog outfits. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

ohpopdog.com

This Singaporean outlet specialises in hand-sewn outfits for dogs from as small as chihuahuas and toy poodles to medium-sized pooches like french bulldogs or pugs.

Former Chung Cheng High Branch schoolmates, designer Geraldine Chua and her bartender partner Zee Xu, both 27, started their online store in December 2012.

Their purpose? To do something for what they are passionate about - dogs.

Their hand-sewn clothes include tank tops and sleeveless tops, which would be perfect for Singapore's humid weather.

From sourcing for fabrics, measuring and cutting the material right down to sewing the final piece, these two entrepreneurs see their products through from the ground up.

Despite the extensive work that goes into creating the dog outfits, they are affordable as they are in the $25-to-$30 bracket.

ohpopdog.com produce lines twice annually - Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.

PHOTO: THE BARKERY, SINGAPORE

The Barkery Singapore

This is an organic food bakery for dogs.

From dog cakes, pies, biscuits, dehydrated treats and dietary supplements, this local store is a one-stop centre for healthy dog food.

Even their tasty-looking cakes are healthy as the frosting and colouring on them are vegetable-based.

For example, green colouring on the cake comes from green peas and yellow colouring is derived from pumpkins.

The Barkery Singapore, which was founded in May 2011, is focused on one priority - the well-being of dogs. Indeed, this home-grown family business seeks to make "the very best food for Man's Best Friend".

Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets

Ms Julie Lancaster, the owner and creator of Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets, is a US-based designer who creates by hand bespoke dog couture.

Ms Lancaster, who has four years of experience in this field, has received special requests from her customers, and these included customised wedding dresses and tuxedos for people who want their dogs to get "married".

The most expensive dress she sold? A US$800 (S$1,060) dress embedded with flat back crystal rhinestones to make the dress look like stained glass.

"It took me days to do (it)," she tells The New Paper on Sunday in an e-mail interview.

As for Asian customers, Ms Lancaster says she has many.

"I have one lady who ordered many dresses along with 18 dog-carrying slings," she says.

Ms Lancaster is set to display her work at the New York Pet Fashion Show in Manhattan next month.

One of her major accolades is the Best Designer award of the Doggie Fashion Show, as part of the Paw-ty Time Fashion Show in Boca Raton, Florida.

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