Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Big, sad puppy eyes beg owners for sunglasses

By John Stanley
The Arizona Republic

Think Snoopy, hot on the tail of the elusive Red Baron. Leather helmet. Silk scarf. Goggles.

He didn't know it, but Snoopy was making a future fashion statement. Today, Doggles (doggie goggles) are all the rage in canine circles, with dogs of all breeds sporting the stylish eye protection.

"They're so cool," says Arizona Humane Society president Cheryl Naumann, whose 8-month-old Australian shepherd, Molly, wears Doggles when she's outside. "Dogs with light-colored eyes tend to be very sun-sensitive and need eye covering."

Roni Di Lullo, of San Jose, Calif., created Doggles about five years ago after she noticed her dog Midknight squinting in the bright sun. Ms. Di Lullo, wearing sunglasses, thought it was unfair that Midknight didn't have the same protection.

Doggles, which cost about $25, come in three basic sizes, with adjustable head and chin straps. They come in five styles, each with flexible frames and polycarbonate, anti-fog lenses.

"We just got them in a few weeks ago," says Dawn Burdo, an employee at Fetch Doggie Store in Scottsdale, Ariz., "and we're selling quite a few. People usually laugh when they first see them, but then they get interested."

Doggles serve a legitimate medical purpose, says Chris Miller, spokesperson for the Arizona Humane Society, which sells the eyewear in its emporium.

"They're designed for dogs with sun-sensitive eyes, but they're good for other outdoor activities as well," Miller says, comparing them with the booties used to protect paws when dogs walk on hot surfaces or rough terrain. "They're kind of cool-looking, and I'm sure some people buy them just for the fashion, but they're pretty practical."

Doggles also provide protection from wind and flying debris when a dog rides in the back of a pickup truck or hangs its head out the window.

"I think they will grow in popularity as pet owners become more cognizant of ways to keep their companion animals healthy for life," Ms. Naumann says.

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