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Pets are still first in our hearts and wallets

Is it any surprise that the furry, the finned and the feathered among us remain blissfully oblivious to the moribund housing market or the tumult on Wall Street? After all, while some Americans clip coupons and scale back their holiday shopping, Fido and Fluffy continue to enjoy perks that became commonplace during the boom years: professional grooming, regular dental treatments, hired walkers and fun-filled day care. "The Dow goes up, the Dow goes down -- people still want their pets to play," says Alex Sabouri, manager of K9/Loft, an Echo Park store offering the kinds of services that pet owners continue to pay for, down economy or not. He says that retail is down about 10% --...

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