— Don't be embarrassed. If you're a typical American, you've probably slept with a few dogs … and had a tail-waggin' good time.
Pull back the covers and you'll find that 41 percent of dog owners share their bed with their shaggy pals, according to a marketing survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association.
The dog-as-bed-partner phenomenon is especially surprising when you consider that it jumped up from 34 percent only four years ago.
Even more troubling, 27 percent of dog owners admit they've had their pups de-wormed in the last year.
You might imagine that toy poodles and other micro mutts share their master's pillow about 50 percent of the time. That's about the same for cats, according to the APPMA. But that trend is growing, in more ways than one.
Now, one in every three owners of German shepherds and other large breeds say they, too, enjoy a little paw play when they're in the sack.
No wonder about 15 percent say they've purchased newfangled canine colognes and doggie toothpastes. Who wants to be greeted each morning by a life companion with dog breath?
Stocks and Bones
Indeed, these are still good times for Fido and Fluffy, even though their masters weathered a tight economy.
Pet owners are expected to lavish $31.5 billion on their animals this year. That's 5 percent more than last year, and nearly double the amount spent in 1994, as the population of 65 million Canine-Americans and 77.7 million Feline-Americans continues to swell.
A recent installment of The Wolf Files looked into the lifestyles of upper-crust critters who sport $17,000 diamond collars and vacation at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif., where animals and their owners both receive special "Reiki" pressure-point massages.
But even if you and your dog lack pedigrees, you can still enjoy a life together, and the pet industry is supplying not-so-expensive creature comforts for the working dog owner.
This week, The Wolf Files looks at products that will help you sleep with, dress like, and even communicate with your dog.
Bringing Up Baby: Just like any proud parent, you can now push your dog around in a specially designed stroller. Just beware when confused passers-by greet you with the old pleasantry, "My, that baby looks just like you."
Since the first Pet Strollers were introduced nine months ago, they've been a sensation, selling more than 5,000 units. Now, manufacturer Midnightpass.com is about to unveil the new SUV Pet Stroller that will allow proud pet owners with larger dogs to take their animals on the ultimate walk.
These strollers, retailing from $129 to $189, are more than just vanity. Manufacturer Brad White says they help in the transportation of older animals.
Cats, who never really take to the leash, are able to travel with their human companions like never before. And for dogs, the stroller combines their two ultimate joys — they can sleep and be taken for a walk at the same time.
Beautyrest for the Dog Tired: Maybe your spouse gave you an ultimatum, "It's me or the dog." After all, not everyone wants to sleep with a panting, howling beast that drinks from the toilet.
Fear not. Even if you and your pet can't share the same bed, you can still share the same mattress.