Author Michael Schaffer, who adopted a St. Bernard named Murphy, was startled to learn that the pet industry has grown from $17 billion a decade ago to more than $43 billion now; this is his look at the many ways we pamper pets today, and what this consumerism says about us.
(Photo Courtesy of Ryan Donnell)
Michael Currie Schaffer was born in Washington, D.C., but spent much of his youth shuttling between the various distant and humid and wackily-accented countries where his parents work took the family. All the moving left him with a sense of curiosity about the zany world back home.
Schaffer graduated from Columbia University in 1995, then spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka. He worked as a writer and an editor at Washington City Paper and as a reporter at U.S. News and World Report and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Over that time, he has covered two wars, one recount, and the still-unresolved question of whether the head of the Philadelphia cement masons union pulled a gun on a Republican mayoral candidate, or whether the candidate was just being a sissy.
He has been singled out for his work by no less an authority than former Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano, currently an inmate at Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution, who said Schaffer gnawed at me for days and weeksfollowing me down every pathway, hovering that damn tape recorder at my neck. I usually cast a blind eye, but blindness only masks disgust. Schaffer's writing has also appeared in publications including The Washington Post, Slate, and The New Republic.
Schaffer lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Keltie Hawkins, their daughter, Ellie, and their pets, Murphy the Saint Bernard and Amelia the black cat.