Dear Santa,

Americans will spend more than $60 billion on pet-related items and services this year ($420 billion in canine math). That’s a lotta dog biscuits, Santa, so I thought I would help you with ideas. My favorite item on the wish list doesn’t cost a cent. By the way, I have been a very good dog.



For dogs naughty and nice:

1. Tail-wagging treats: Homemade treats with dog-friendly ingredients are always good; locally made even better. Check out locally themed treats like gators and red beans from Amis de Paux. Kelly Frisch and Sarah Johnson, the two women behind the name, met through an animal rescue group where both fostered, adopted and volunteered. Now the proceeds from the sales of one of their treats, Tootsie’s Churros (named for a hospice dog), go to benefit the rescue group Animal Helper. $4 a package and up, ( Or indulge your swamp dog with Marsh Dog! wild nutria dog biscuits at Jefferson Feed & Seed. $7.99 (

2. Year-round gift: Companies like Barkbox offer gift-of-the-month surprises for your dog, delivered monthly to your door. Baskets contain toys and treats chosen for your type of dog, $19 and up per month, (

3 Go fetch: If you wear out before Rover does when playing ball, consider iFetch, an automatic ball dispenser that throws the ball for you ($115 to $200, depending on size of dog). It works best when Rover learns to put the ball back into the machine so the ball can be thrown again. And again. (

4. Hi-tech hits: Petchatz is a Skype-like two-way communication device for humans and their dogs. Plug the video screen directly into an electric outlet at home and contact your dog via your smartphone. You can see and talk to your dog from your smartphone, even dispense a treat. There is PawCall, a purchased-separately button that lets your dog call you. Prices start at $350 ( And then there’s Petzi, a treat cam that allows you to see, speak, snap a photo and dispense a treat from your smartphone. Starts at $169.99 (

5. Eco-friendly snoozing: Yes, duvets for dogs. Pick out a fabric and a size for your dog’s pillow, then stuff it with your old clothes, sheets, towels, blankets, etc. A washable cotton canvas duvet (gusseted and zipped) is now a dog bed filled with dog’s favorite scent — yours! When it is time to wash the bed, pull out your stuff inside. Wash the cover and the stuffing. Starts at $19 (

6. Puttin’ on the dog: “Dogs are our fur babies,” says Diane Lundeen of Petcetera, a local pet boutique on Magazine Street. Why shouldn’t we dress them? Not only are there sparkling bow ties that attach to collars, dog tuxedos, sequined party dresses and Christmas sweaters, there are also prayer shawls and yarmulkes for dogs observing Hanukkah.

Another local label, Wearable Vegetables, offers dog-size holiday T-shirts and tea towels with such clever phrases as “Dachshund Through the Snow”with an illustration to match. Canine T-shirts $19.99; tea towels, $10. (

If I had a thumb, I would write this gift list for my human:

1. Obedience classes: Communication! Communication! Communication! My human and I need to learn to talk to each other.

2. Clothing for you and me: Nothing like dog-theme T-shirts that tell the world how much my person loves me. Find slogans like “You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it” at, $20 up.

3. Donations for my furry friends: Help other dogs find a home like mine; make a donation (tax deductible in human math) in my human’s name to a local rescue group.

4. Dog-park membership: Ditch the lattes! Put that cash on a membership to a well-kept canine playground, like NOLA City Bark in City Park. A permit for one dog is $48 (

5. Professional pet portrait: I know the words “sit” and “stay.”

6. Gift certificates: My human might want one to have me treated to a doggie spa service. Personally, I like playgroups, er, doggie daycare. Also consider a voucher for a professional dog walker.

7. Nothing like a good book: I hear Maira Kalman’s new book “Beloved Dog” ($29.95) is good for sharing time on the sofa and learning how your dog brings out the best in you. An important (and long-awaited) book for those with pets is the Greater New Orleans Pet Directory ($15), a resource book for pet-owners listing pet-related nonprofit agencies and businesses in the nine-parish area. (

P.S., Santa —

Please tell my guardian that the best gift is free; take me on lots of walks.

P.P.S., Santa — I left a glass of milk and a dog biscuit on the kitchen table for you.