What do you get the dog who has everything? Why, even more of everything, of course. We called on several pet supply professionals to help us identify 10 gift ideas perfect for either you or your furry companions this holiday season.
And while the balance here is tipped slightly in favor of the canine set, that’s just the nature of the beast. As Laura Clark, co-owner of the local, family-owned, upscale pet supply chain Wylie Wagg put it during a conversation that revolved mostly around dogs: “We also have a pretty large cat section for anybody who has cats. We’re not forgetting them. They just don’t require quite as much as dogs do.”
Holiday Treats — There’s no better way to show your furry companion love than by wrapping up a box of biscuits or a catnip-filled toy and putting it under the Christmas Tree — or the Menorah. Gus Elfving of PetPeeps (petpeeps.biz) steered us to two different New York-area Jewish treat-makers from the online retail website Etsy.com: DogParkPublishing’s Mini Hanukkah Dog Treat Assortment, made with crunchy peanut butter dough and covered with peanut butter, yogurt or carob frosting ($4.95 a box), and the Spotted Kitty’s Dreidel and Gelt Cat Toys, made of recycled felt and organic catnip ($12, set of two).
Bowls and Treat Jars — At its fifth and newest store in Woodley Park, Wylie Wagg (wyliewagg.com) sells an assortment of containers in all price ranges just perfect for storing pet treats. “Bowls and treat jars are things that people won’t necessarily buy for themselves,” the store’s Laura Clark explains, “but they love to get them as gifts.”
Holiday Dog Collars — The Denver-based Etsy.com merchant Stinky and Sweet Pea offers a range of festive, fabric dog collars, with titles that capture what they look like, from Holiday Trees ($19.50) to The Nutcracker ($22.50) to “Oh deer, it’s almost Christmas” ($17.50).
Dog Breed Ornaments — Wylie Wagg features ornaments depicting different dog breeds, including some of those less common, from Ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to Schipperke. “They’re all hand-painted, made in the U.S. and very well executed [depictions],” Clark says. “Somebody who doesn’t normally see their breed can often find it with us.”
Eco-Friendly Dog Toys — Another Gus Elfving recommendation comes from the online merchant Bambeco (bambeco.com), focused on “sustainable living with style,” complete with its own Pets section. The soft Eco Teddy Dog Toys are made from fabric remnants left over from construction of pet blankets — “perfect for playtime and the planet” ($15, available in brown or green).
Cat Ball — Every dog-owner knows the worth of the Kong line of products — fill one of the red rubber cones with cheesy goodness and watch Scooby wear himself out trying to shake it loose. But Kong (kongcompany.com) also makes toys for cats, including the Kong Cat Naturals Straw Ball ($4.20 for two), an uneven ball featuring a natural straw weave shaped for easy snagging to appeal to your cat’s hunting instincts. And what cat toy would be complete without catnip inside?
Reindeer Games — PetSmart.com offers a number of stuffed reindeer toys, including the pioneering Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ($10.39) and the oh-so-hip grey Sven from Frozen ($5). But Petco.com offers its own mashup just for felines: plushy Reindeer Mice, filled with — you guessed it — catnip ($4.99).
Catpods — The local pet supply chain Big Bad Woof (thebigbadwoof.com), with stores in the Takoma neighborhood of D.C. and in Hyattsville, Md., offers full-sized Original Catpods, handcrafted in North Carolina, to be long-lasting scratching stations — but they also work as a playtime toy, crouching spot with three peepholes, zooming tunnel, even a quiet retreat space for naps ($74.99).
Designer Bedding – Wylie Wagg specializes in higher-end pet beds than the gaudy, fluffy basics found elsewhere — whether it’s a Jax & Bones Soft Corduroy Lounge Bed ($99) or at the highest end, Bowsers Moderno Bed, black with a rectangular metal frame inspired by Italian furniture designers ($800). And the store can custom order any bed you’d like and allow you to pick from hundreds of fabrics — “we can do anything,” laughs Clark, “all the way down to toile.”
Learning Dog Language — You can teach your dog some key words and phrases, but no matter how hard you try, he’ll never be able to talk back. Still, that’s not to say you can’t develop a better sense of what he’s wanting or thinking. Few books can help you in that pursuit more easily than How to Speak Dog: A Guide to Decoding Dog Language ($12.95), by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman, formerly the head of the Washington Animal Rescue League and co-host of WAMU’s The Animal House. Published last year, this glossy, colorful National Geographic guidebook explores every facet of dog behavior, from barking to “telling tails” to butt-scooting, and even offers basic training tips and other pointers.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.