There are lots of doggone ways to show love and affection for a pet through the holiday gifts you give. For starters, almost anything can be personalized these days, from coffee cups and mouse pads to wine labels and Christmas tree ornaments. Your local Staples store or camera shop can turn your photos into personalized calendars, frame-ready collages, posters, pet bowls, dog tags and other gifts in no time. For breed-specific items ranging from hats to flags to car mats and iPhone cases, spend some browse time on DogShoppe, whose 13,000-gift inventory can be adorned with illustrations of almost any breed, from Affenpinscher to Yorkshire terrier.
Here’s a unique idea – create your own personal dog-themed craft project for those crazy dog lovers on your list. DogTrekker.com’s Chief Barketing Officer, Kayla (and co-founders Roxanne and Dave Kendrick) just received a wonderful gift from one of our best dog-passionate buddies, Jeri Lynch. Jeri took a two-room dollhouse and built the Bark Hopkins Hotel, a DogTrekker Resort. It comes complete with pictures of Kayla on the wall, dogs sleeping in the guest quarters and eating at the bar with the Canine Cable Network in the background. Your local craft or dollhouse shop has all of the necessary ingredients to build your own masterpiece.
In the “why didn’t they think of that before” department, Divas & Studs Canine Care, a new brand from the La Fresh skin-care folks, has come out with a trio of new doggie products that include ear-buff finger mitts for swabbing away waxy build-up; peppermint-scented dental finger mitts for cleaning teeth and gums; and eye-sparkle mitts for wiping away the tear stains that often streak the faces of light-colored pets. A pooch-pampering package containing all three products would make a novel (and useful) gift for the dog-lover on your list.
Another one in the “aha!” category is the Pet Peek, a clear acrylic dome that, when installed in a wooden fence, acts as a kind of porthole into the neighbor’s yard. Of course, you’ll have to have clearance and cooperation from your neighbor to use it, but for barky dogs especially, it could be just the ticket to satisfying their curiosity enough to get them to pipe down.
The holidays are also a great time to stock up on practical supplies such as collars and leashes. In the artisan category, we recently discovered Four Robins Ltd., a boutique producer of leather goods, whose Old West Leather Dog Collar should prove irresistible to the kind of owner who might otherwise tie a bandana around Duke’s neck when heading out for a hike.
On the strictly practical, everyday-wear side of things, we’re partial to collars that incorporate riveted brass name plates that can’t fall off or get snagged on a shrub or other obstacle. (This page also contains some solid-sense advice on what information to include—and not include—on a dog ID tag, no matter what type you choose.)
If you or someone you know rides a bike and has a small dog that doesn’t like being left behind, why not exploit the Toto factor? A lambswool-lined wicker bicycle basket from Doctors Foster and Smith will bring out the smiles, while an adjustable safety leash will keep the little one secure as the miles fly by. For bigger dogs requiring heavy exercise, nothing beats the Springer, an ingenious device that attaches to your bike and lets you keep both hands on the handlebars while your dog, safely secured, runs alongside.
And we have one more idea for the road…er, make that the back yard. Does your dog think a water bowl is just one more thing to dig a hole in? A cheapo alternative to a standard water bowl is a paw-discouraging angel-food cake pan staked to the ground. A much cooler and more aesthetic one is the Drinkwell Pagoda Fountain from Petwell. This ceramic fountain likewise has a well in the center, leaving little room for paws, but it’s heavy enough to be used indoors and without stakes. The electrically operated device (it needs a plug) continuously recycles and aerates 70 ounces of water and provides two tiers of liquid for pets to drink from.