There’s an old philosophy in journalism that when you’re in a jam, or you’re at a loss for an idea, do a pets story! No matter what, it’s almost always a hit with readers (just like it is on the web). So just over a month after the Emily Gould cover story in the Times Magazine, which came a week before a puffy profile on Tyra Banks, the Magazine has its pet story on the cover for this weekend.
And it works beautifully. The story is about our increasing—and maddening—tendency to medicate pets for things like anxiety and compulsiveness. James Vlahos, a science writer for National Geographic and Popular Science, is a first-time writer for the magazine, and we want to see more. It’s cooked up the way that Times Magazine stories tend to be (“What can behavioral pharmacology teach us about animal minds and, ultimately, our own?”), but no matter! Science stories are so hard to make readable, and there are enough anecdotes and enough tension between rivaling schools (the pill-popping-loving doctors versus the ones who hate them) to make for a nice read—and to prove that pets stories really do work.