Gifts for pets and pet lovers make holidays merry
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Buying a present for your pet this holiday season? Survey says: Yes. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 64 percent of pet owners buy gifts for Buster and Snowball at Christmas and other seasonal celebrations. The favorite presents for pets are toys -- to the tune of $389 million last year -- and clothing. If you're starting to make a list and check it twice, we have some suggestions that your cats, dogs and pet-loving friends and family will roll over for.
-- You probably know the adage that a tired dog is a good dog. Keep your pooch pooped with a dog-treat launcher. Load it with small treats (not included) that will travel 10 to 12 feet when you "fire" it, giving him a fun and tasty workout. Works with cats, too. Available at Amazon.com and ContainerStore.com.
-- Dogs love to shake, lick and cuddle with the Duckworth plush squeaky toy. While reviewers give it high marks for durability, it's not for power chewers. Available in large and mini sizes on Amazon.com and other online retailers.
-- Got a catnip junkie? Feed his habit with Yeowww's Pollock Fish Catnip Toy. Stuffed with organically grown catnip and made in the United States, the fish-shaped toy is made for a cat to clutch to his belly and bunnykick. Sold through Amazon.com and other online retailers.
-- Are you getting a new puppy during the holidays? Consider getting him a Snuggle Puppy with a pulsing "heartbeat" and a warming pack to help him relax in his new home. There's a Snuggle Kittie for kittens, too. Sold at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and other online retailers.
As a lifelong reader and a writer by profession, my favorite gifts when buying for people are, not surprisingly, books. They are available on every topic of interest to pet lovers, and if they don't like to read (inconceivable!), well, that's why they publish photography books. My favorites this year:
-- Pete Thorne's photographs and stories of 75 senior dogs capture the life, joy and special beauty of a graying muzzle in "Old Faithful: Dogs of a Certain Age."
-- Mystery fans will cozy up to Laurien Berenson's latest, "The Bark Before Christmas," featuring amateur sleuth Melanie Travis dogging the footsteps of a pup-napping Santa slayer.
-- You throw away 15 (or more) catnip toys until you find the one your cat likes best and set aside a credit card specifically for your cat's use (no limit, natch!); and when your cat brings you a dead mouse in the middle of the night, you say "Good kitty" and take a photo of her trophy for her Facebook page. If you answer yes to these statements, you can reinforce your fancy for felines -- and find new ways to spoil your cat -- in Allia Zobel Nolan's comical (and possibly true-to-life) "Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much," illustrated by Nicole Hollander. The pair will make you giggle and, maybe, squirm a bit when you recognize yourself in the book's pages.
It's the season of giving, but gifts don't have to be material. Show your love for animals with a donation of goods or money to your local shelter, a favorite rescue group or other pet welfare organization. Among the ones we like are World Vets, Winn Feline Foundation, The Grey Muzzle Organization and Alley Cat Allies.
Before you order anything online, for pets or people, see if the merchant sells through adoptashelter.com. Every purchase you make through the portal earns a donation for the shelter of your choice, and there's no need to register, log in or remember a password.
Have a pawsome holiday season!
Dog versus cat:
keeping the peace
Q: My two dogs and cat peacefully coexist. However, a dear friend visits with her dog, and it is complete pandemonium. Her dog gets along great with my two dogs, but she is very cat-aggressive. My cat ends up spending days holed up in the cellar and sneaks into the house only at night. If the visiting dog becomes aware that the cat is present, she chases him through the house until he finds a hiding spot. There have been several standoffs when I hoped the cat would scratch the dog, but he has not. Any suggestions as to how we can remedy this? -- via email
A: It would be great if we could enroll cats in self-defense courses where they learn to stand their ground and swipe at a dog's nose with their claws instead of turning tail and running. Dogs like yours learn from an early age to respect cats and live in harmony with them, but your friend's dog needs some training and restraint.
Your cat's safety and comfort are paramount. When your friend's dog comes over, she should be on leash and under control. She and your dogs can play together outdoors, but when she's in the cat's territory, her actions need to be curtailed. In case they do encounter each other, your cat needs an avenue of escape, such as a tall cat tree or a piece of furniture he can run under where the dog can't go.
Separation is another alternative. Instead of letting her chase your cat and hoping he'll send a message with his claws, set up a comfortable retreat for your cat in a room that's off-limits to the dog, such as a bedroom, guest room or office. Provide your cat with everything he needs -- comfy resting spot, litter box, a couple of favorite toys, food and water -- and let him hang out there while the guest dog is on the premises. -- Kim Campbell Thornton
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Teach old dogs
-- Ease your dog into the golden years with a senior dog skills class like the one offered by Nova Dogsport in Nova Scotia, Canada. The class, for dogs 7 years and older, is designed to increase cognitive function while being easy on the body. The four-week course, taught by a registered veterinary technician, covers ways to warm up a dog's body before activity and activities designed to increase brain function. Activities include passive range of motion, massage, puzzle games, body awareness and tricks. If you can't find a class like this in your area, talk to your veterinarian or dog trainer about setting one up.
-- Most companies offer employees compassionate leave for the death of a family member, but only a rare few extend the benefit to bereaved pet owners. The Wall Street Journal's Sue Shellenbarger reports that one is San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which not only welcomes pets at its hotels, but also provides employees with pet health insurance and bereavement leave. Other companies with compassionate pet policies include Mars Inc., which offers one or more days off, flexible hours or the ability to work at home immediately after a pet's death; Maxwell Health and Replacements Ltd., which gives employees time off to take pets for medical treatment; and VMware, a software company with a dog-friendly campus.
-- The sloughi, a medium-size sighthound from North Africa, resembles the saluki, but the two are distinct breeds with different characteristics. The sloughi has impressive running skills, seemingly floating like a feather as he moves. His natural prey are jackals, gazelles and desert hares, but he also chases cats, jackrabbits and coyotes if given half a chance. The proud, independent dogs are intelligent and sensitive, bonding strongly with their people, and find it difficult to adjust to new homes if given up for adoption. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
Caption 01: Think smart and fun when buying presents for pets and people. Position: Main Story
Caption 02: Massage, brainteaser games and trick training can all help older dogs maintain good brain function. Position: Pet Buzz/Item 1