Give pets gifts that are secretly treats for you
Posted November 24, 2008
Updated November 25, 2008
Some think it's a little crazy to give gifts to pets. But pet owners know that secretly, they're also gifts to ourselves. Here are some suggestions for you and your furry friends this holiday season.
- Give yourself the gift of a tired dog:
A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and outdoor exercise can be hard to come by on short, dark winter days. Fortunately, mental exercise helps.
The food puzzle toys designed by Nina Ottosson (http://www.nina-ottosson.com) require dogs to figure out how to get treats by pushing buttons, sliding blocks, or turning disks. These aren't inexpensive ($39.95 and up at http://www.pawlickers.com) but Julie Paez of The Big Bad Woof in Washington says that owners find they're absolutely worth it "for really active dogs that need to be kept entertained and busy."
For somewhat less determined dogs, Jessica Simon of Living Ruff in Silver Spring, Md., recommends the Premier Tug-A-Jug (two sizes - $14 and $21, http://www.premier.com). This is a plastic bottle stoppered with a spiky ball on a piece of rope, it's round so it rolls, and the treats make noise and can be seen through the clear plastic.
For a similar idea with an eco-friendly slant, there's the Katie's Bumpers Bottle Tracker ($14, http://www.katiesbumpers.com). It's a sleeve made from the ends cut off in process of making fire hoses, into which you put an empty soda bottle, which makes an appealing (for the dog) crunching sound.
This might be the one your dog would choose for himself: Paez says she had a sample on display in her store, but one dog took it and wouldn't let it go, leaving the owner no choice but to buy it.
- Give yourself less hair on the furniture:
If you've ever used aluminum foil to keep cats off the countertop, you'll recognize the idea behind the new Petzoff blanket, designed to keep pets off the furniture (http://www.petzoff.com, $59.99 and $79.99): it's a throw blanket that's foil on one side. The fabric side looks nice when you're in the room, and then you can spread it out foil side up when you're not using the couch and pets won't use it either.
- Give yourself a laugh:
The new battery powered Fling-ama-String cat toy ($24.95, http://www.moodypet.com) hangs on a doorknob and pulls a string around on a sort of conveyor belt so that it disappears into the toy and then flops back out again and again. It's absurdly simple but cats react in a way that's entertaining for both of you . And for dogs, Moody Pet's Humunga Tongue ($12) is a ball with a long tongue sticking out _ so that when a dog is carrying it around, the effect is hilarious.
- Keep the chewing and scratching where it belongs:
For dogs, a great natural chew treat is Sam's Yams "veggie rawhide." Made of dried American grown sweet potato - nothing else - it comes in two sizes of ripple-textured slices as well as the Bichon Fries sticks (starting at $4.99 for 5 oz, http://www.frontporchpets.com).
Your cat can't have too many of those refillable corrugated cardboard scratching pads, available at pet stores and online pet suppliers for around five dollars. But while kitty doesn't care what they look like, you might enjoy the fancy versions made by Imperial Cat (http://www.imperialcat.com) that are shaped and decorated like cars, pieces of furniture and all kinds of animals ($20 and up).
- Share a treat.
Bubba Rose Biscuits (starting at $8.25, http://www.bubbarosebiscuitco.com), in flavors like "Roast Beef & Swiss" and "I Smell Bacon," are made with ingredients that sound like the contents of a human pantry - organic oat and brown rice flour, cheddar cheese, organic eggs. And indeed, Simon of the Living Ruff store says, "Whenever we get a sample bag, they don't get out to the dogs. I eat them all." For dogs with allergy problems, note that they're wheat, corn and soy free.
- Feel good by helping others.
Finally, don't forget to think about animals less fortunate than yours. You can support the ASPCA's national programs by shopping on line at http://www.aspca.org/shop.
Closer to home, call your local shelter and see what donations they are looking for, or send them an online gift certificate at Petfinder.com (http://www.petfinder.com/awo/e-gift.cgi).