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Presents that make tails wag

You know what pets like: anything edible, noisy, chaseable or wrapped
0412 Special-Dogs DR15
Charlie the Chocolate Lab waits for the OK from his human Brad Abma to take his Christmas themed treat during a visit to the Mr. Pets store Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

For most people, pets are a big part of the family. Including them in the Christmas gift opening is natural, fun and rewarding.

But the big question is: are you buying a present to please yourself or your pet? The Internet advertises all sorts of cute presents everyone can share. One website flogs identical family pyjamas complete with button-bum flaps that everyone, pets included, could wear while cosying up on the sofa to watch a movie.

I don’t know about you, but my pets (both dogs and cats) were never much for sitting still. They’d rather rip open a present filled with smelly treats or tear new stuffies to shreds.

All families enjoy different experiences. Statistics show 57 per cent of Canadian households – about 7.5 million – own pets with either cats or dogs. In 2018, the average Canadian household spent an average $625 on gifts with approximately $65 being chewed up by pet goody bags.

So what do you buy that special feline or canine in the family? Just remember, they may not care about the latest bit of technology, trends, status or style. They may not even remember what you gave them last year, or whether it cost a fortune or merely peanuts. They simply revel in the time and attention you give them.

The Gazette stopped by Mr. Pets to check out their Christmas stock and discovered one item that holds any four-footed friend's attention – the ever-so-hot Advent calendars.

“People really like them. They’re cute. The kids get their chocolate, so dogs watching are thinking, ‘Why can’t I have one too?'” said supervisor Jonah Beauchamp.

“They’re very healthy, too. They’re freeze-dried beef liver. You could give them a ton and all you do is fill them up."

If you’re interested in feeding your pets festive Christmas day meals, Nutrience has produced two varieties: Turkey Cranberry and Maple Glazed Ham. The turkey meal is a blend of turkey, cranberry, peas, sweet potatoes and lentils, while the ham dinner mixes pork, peas and a dash of maple syrup.

“They are very simple compared to some others on the market,” Beauchamp added. “We’re also trying to support more local businesses, and Nutrience is a Canadian manufacturer.”

If you need to keep your pooch occupied on Christmas Day while you unwrap gifts, check out chew sticks made from antler horns. For added taste, they are loaded with a prime rib flavour.

Let's move on to the ultra-popular candy-cane shaped bully sticks. Bully sticks are chew-type dog treats usually made out of dried steer or bull penis (you read that correctly).

“They (the meat) are wrapped in the esophagus and it has natural compounds in it like glucosamine and chondroitin,” Beauchamp explained.

Another gift to keep your cat and dog occupied during your special day is prepacked stockings with what Beauchamp calls, “crunchies and jinglies.”

And for gentle dogs and playful cats, an assortment of squeaky toys are waiting for a home: velvety penguins in igloos, plush lambs, rotund snowmen and even a fat elf that farts.

“They’re fun and different from the typical squeakers.”

Medium- and high-energy dogs demand a minimum of one walk per day – even if the weather drops to -20 C. If you own a long-haired collie, they probably delight in wiggling around the snow on their back. But small dogs and short-haired species such as the greyhound may require a warm fleecy coat to keep off the winter chill.

Mr. Pets, as with many other pet stores, stocks outerwear such as water resistant boots, heavy-duty parkas, sweaters and vests. Boots in particular provide cold weather and salt-surface protection to sensitive paws. Priced similarly to a small child’s boots, they range from $30 to $80.

“The space between a dog’s toes builds up chunks of ice. It latches on to the fur on the pads and causes bleeding. You need something to cover the paws,” said Beauchamp.

Since many dogs may attempt to rip off boots initially, he recommends a breaking-in period.

“Try wearing them around the house until your dog is ready.”

If you really like to pamper your small pets, take them for a walk in the $199.99 covered pet stroller similar in size to a doll stroller.

“We had one woman come in whose dog was not good with crowds. She wanted to take him to the fireworks and with the screen closed over the stroller, her dog wouldn’t see the crowds.”

Gifts for pets can also include personalized ID tags, activities such as agility training and pet services that keep the spirit of giving going long after the holidays are ended. Most importantly, enjoy the time together and make memories – the true gifts of Christmas.

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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