What do you give the one on your Christmas list who makes you feel like the most wonderful person in the world? What do you give the one who challenges you daily to prove it?
Rest easy, human parents of canines and felines. Gift offerings this holiday season for furry family members are more plentiful than presidential tweets.
For those who want to lavish their pets with ridiculously extravagant gifts, there are options. But each should come with a warning: Price tags mean nothing to pets. And designer labels — even the trademark-blue dog collar at Tiffany’s & Co for $200-plus, the Louis Vuitton pet carrier for $2,700 or the Versace kibble bowl for $700 — won’t buy you any more snuggles.
But we do have some gift ideas for your four-legged friends ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime.
GIFTS THAT PROVE THE FINE LINE BETWEEN HUMANS AND THEIR PETS CONTINUES TO BLUR:
A DNA test: We humans have become obsessed with our genealogy, thanks to the mail-in DNA tests from genetic testing companies such as Ancestry and 23andMe. But many with mixed-breed and rescue pups are just as curious about the family lineage of their pets.
“What kind of dog is that, sir?”
“Boxer and husky, but we did his DNA, and his grandfather was a bull mastiff.”
Test kits to find the breeds that make up your canine can be found online, from $60 to $300, depending on the test and size of the company’s database.
Selfie stick: If your success rate at taking selfies with your dog is almost nil, consider the Pooch Selfie. It’s a simple attachment for the top of your smartphone that holds a tennis ball with a squeaker to get your dog’s attention. (We know why it’s called a Pooch Selfie; cats would not be amused.) $12.99 online and at pet stores.
Safe road trip: The first thing you do when you get in your car is buckle up. But what about the safety of your dog? There are seat belts for dogs, too. A seat harness by Sleepypod ($69 up) gets an endorsement from the Center for Pet Safety (similar to a Good Housekeeping seal on consumer products). It’s estimated 85 percent of dog owners traveling with their dogs do not restrain their pets. Pet owners should buckle them in, not only for the dog’s safety, but also to avoid an accident caused by driver distraction. Available online at pet sites and amazon.com.
Happy Hour: “CharDOGnay and Pinot Meow,” says Jennifer Kullander at Southern Paws pet shop, and she’s not kidding. They stock a supply of nonalcoholic wines (chamomile, peppermint, beet juice, water from mountain springs and even the catnip is organic) by Colorado company Apollo Peak and Bowzer beer (made of meat and barley) for furry drinkers. $13 and up. Available at some pet stores and online.
I’m stuffed!: Beignets, po-boys, streetcars, crabs. OK, so they’re not edible, but they’re plush and squeaky, and made by a local company named Puptown. Co-owner John Clark III (author of the children’s book “What the Sleepy Animals Do at Audubon Zoo”) says every dog needs its binky. Apparently so. Belinda Wharton at Zen Pets, one of the local shops carrying the toys, has seen them fly out the door. The new company quickly sold more than 1,000 beignets and 1,000 shrimp po-boys in its first year. There’s even a voodoo dog. ($13 and up/available at local pet boutiques and puptowntoys.com)
Treat me nice!: Homemade wholesome cookies with dog/cat-friendly ingredients and a local theme by Amis des Paux (amisdespaux.com). This year, the 2-year-old company (founded by Kelly Frisch and Sarah Johnson, who met as volunteers for an animal rescue group) offer iced cookies in the form of Cajun reindeer (alligators with black noses), cup-shaped Puppermint Mocha, Santa Paws with a paw print and belt buckle, and (hold onto your antlers) Reindeer Poop (“poop” is the name, not the ingredient). $3.50 to $9 at local pet boutiques.
Dressed to geaux: NOLA Couture, known for its dapper bowties and ties with Louisiana symbols, welcomes canine customers with collars and bowties in similar styles and same motifs (alligators, pelicans, oysters, fleur de lis, po-boys, red beans and rice, and Green Wave and Tiger symbols and holiday plaids). $30 and up (nolacouture.com and two local boutiques).
Elf dog costume: Ostensibly, it’s a gift for your dog, but really, this goofy canine elf costume is a gift for yourself. Plus, it comes in a range of sizes that fit almost any dog, from Chihuahuas to pit bulls. Ten percent of proceeds benefit animal shelters. $15.95, petkrewe.com.
Pet panache: You might call them the upscale GrrrrrAnimals of petwear. NOLA B⚜tch is a local company offering mix-and-match collars and leashes in a variety of patterns and materials. Up for the holidays are plaids and Santa motifs. Petcetera pet-shop owner Diane Lundreen refers to the collection as the “Sniffany’s” of dog collars. $17.99 and up.
Art for Rover’s sake: What is a home without wedding photos, painted portraits of Great Aunt Mildred and framed keepsakes of family members? It is one begging for a likeness of the top dawg of the house. Go to just about any pet shop or veterinary clinic, and you will see pet portraits by local artists and photographers. George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog was just the beginning of dog as muse.
Vegetables for all: Stuffed squeak toys for your dog come in the shape of fast food or vegetables, and each P.L.A.Y. toy has a corresponding recipe for the dog’s human. The plush toys also come in the likeness of Louisiana seafood. $13.99 at Jefferson Feed stores.
Human after all: Yes, you, the two-legged creature. Citizen NOLA, a local business, that caters to local passions offers unisex T-shirts for the one on the other end of the leash. Popular offerings are The Dogfather and You’re Not Drinking Alone if Your Cat is Home. $20 and up at local pet and T-shirt boutiques and at citizennola.com. Wearable Vegetables carries a shirt that speaks for any spoiled dog — Beg-a-tarian— but the human can wear it. $22 for shirt, $10 for tea towel at wearablevegetables.com
Cat’s meow: Your indoor cat needs exercise just like you do. So a treadmill for your feline seems like an overdue idea. It works like a hamster wheel, but it’s feline size. The cat wheel provides a rolling good time to raise your cat's endorphins, burn calories and provide entertainment. ($200 and up, onefastcat.com/#cat_wheel). If your feline prefers to lounge, check out indoor teepees for cats, $69 by P.L.A.Y. at Jefferson Feed.
Also on every pet-lover’s list should be a donation to a local rescue group or spay/neuter organization to reduce the population of homeless animals. What rescue animal who now has a home wouldn’t want the same for his fellow critter? There are at least 20 rescue and adoption centers in the New Orleans area, all needing donations of money, supplies, as well as loving homes for homeless cats and dogs. Fostering a pet until a permanent home can be found is another way to give to your local shelter. Also take note that often a percentage of proceeds from the sale of some pet products go to animal shelters.