HOLLYWOOD STARS and politicians will come together in New York next month to help two Irish men launch a new glossy magazine for dog lovers.
The New York Dog — the brainchild of John Ryan, publisher of the failed Stars on Sunday, and Michael O’Doherty, publisher of VIP, the celebrity magazine — will be officially launched at a private party in the Ritz Carlton hotel on September 21. Amongst the celebrities expected to attend are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Shirley MacLaine, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Walters and Henry Kissinger.
Some businesses in New York’s canine industry are, however, refusing to advertise in the magazine because they do not believe there is a market for it. Jordan Kaplan, who runs Petaholics, one of the biggest dog-walking services in New York, said: "I refused to put an ad in the magazine because I am not convinced this publication will work. There was a dog magazine launched a few years ago, but it only lasted a couple of months. Yes, New Yorkers love their dogs, but the idea of reading about celebrities and the latest in dog accessories undermines the intelligence of American dog owners."
Ryan and O’Doherty remain confident they have tapped into a New York niche. New Yorkers, they say, are obsessed with their pets, and dog ownership is booming. There are more than two million dogs in the city, and many are regarded as child substitutes by their owners.
"In New York, dogs are treated like part of the family, and their owners are really devoted to their pets," said O’Doherty. "This dog magazine is basically a mother and child glossy with a twist."
Dogs have become the new must-have celebrity accessory in America. Paris Hilton’s dog Tinkerbell, has pride of place in her Chanel handbag. Pop singer Geri Halliwell never leaves home without her shaggy friend, and Sharon Osborne made famous her numerous yapping dogs in the reality TV show about her family.
The 96-page launch edition of the magazine takes dog fascination one step further. It will offer advice on how to win your dog in a custody battle, and even carry illustrations of dog fashion.
Other articles include: The Race for the White House (Kennel), a history of all the US presidents’ dogs, and comments from Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, Mary Tyler Moore and Eartha Kitt about their canine friends.
The launch will kick off with a fashion show for dogs. Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci will show off an autumn/winter collection in designer clothes and accessories for pets.
Dog owners who do not fit into celebrity or multimillionaire status will be treated to an open-air party in Central Park, which will include dog yoga, massages and a free concert. Dubbed "Woofstock", O’Doherty hopes it will secure magazine sales.
He said: "We have done our homework on this and we believe the quirkiness of its content will attract a large readership. We hope to publish around 40,000 in September, and it will be bi-monthly after that."
Not everyone is convinced. One animal welfare organisation said that glamorising celebrity dogs would take away from the work of welfare groups to help homeless and abused animals.