Smiles for December

A sweater, a stroller, and a salad. What do these three items all have in common? They were all pet gifts at one time! With Christmas just around the corner, I thought a post on the best and/or worst pet presents would be timely and fun. Below are anecdotes on that topic shared with me by friends and family.

Barnaby_SweaterLet’s start with my family’s story. Our dog Barnaby recently received a handmade sweater as a gift. A co-worker of my husband knit it for him. Amazingly, she was able to make it the perfect size just by looking at photos of Barnaby on Facebook. Barnaby seems quite proud of his sweater. In fact, when we tried it on a sister of his (who happens to be a cat), he seemed a little jealous. Wear the Husker red proud, Barnaby!


A best gift for Daphne and her owner, Annie Ness Johnson, came from Annie’s husband. Brandon surprised them with a kid-Ikea chair for Daphne. “The dogs spent the morning playing with their new puzzle toys and we spent the morning putting together her chair.” Pictured here, Daphne enjoying her new chair.


Katie Schwartz shared a humorous story about visiting some friends. Katie brought her dog, Rufus, and the friends had two dogs of their own. Katie said the three dogs initially got along pretty well: “Kramer can be a little fussy, but since he was smaller and outnumbered he was not too assertive while we were there.” Later, when the Schwartz family started to leave, Rufus was slow coming out from the living room when they called for him. “When he appeared, he was dragging the biggest doggy toy-bone, half in his mouth, half on the floor–not his, of course–looking like he was claiming it for his own.” Alas, for Kramer, he didn’t actually get to keep this stolen “gift”. The bone was a favorite toy of their friends’ dogs. Katie light-heartedly added, “Maybe for Christmas we’ll get him one.”

SkylarIn contrast, Kathy Zupancic told of a worst gift. Some of her colleagues have this holiday party event that they call “Craptacular”.  Throughout the year, Kathy revealed, these colleagues listen for things that others don’t like, would never buy, or hated colors. These colleagues, knowing that Kathy has tiny dogs, went out and bought a huge four-foot-long chew bone for the Chihuahuas.

“This story has a happy ending in that I was able to re-gift this chew bone to an extremely intelligent Puggle. The bone was much too big for her as well but I used this bone in a “problem solving” task to determine if the Puggle could discover a way to get her new bone from the lower level of her house up a flight of stairs to her sleeping area.  The Puggle solved the problem I presented to her.”

Moving on to cats, I couldn’t narrow down my own anecdote to just one. A few years ago, we decided to buy a pet stroller for our cat, Lucy, because she loved being outside and a stroller was the only way to take her with us on walks. The nice thing about this gift is that t’s become a hand-me-down. When our adopted senior dog, Gizmo, lost his ability to walk, the stroller passed to him. Now both Lucy and Gizmo have gone on to Rainbow Bridge, but our two current cats appreciate playing in it while it’s parked in the living room, as well as riding in it when we go on walks.

Our most recent cat gift partly came from Kathy Zupancic. As godmother to our kitten Rainy (whom she found after a rainstorm), Kathy wanted to contribute to a cat tower for our bedroom. It would be our second cat tower, as we have one in the living room that we’d bought years ago for Lucy. Our current cats love it, and we thought that having one in the bedroom would encourage them to spend more time with us in that room. And it does. Our trio of cats do enjoy romps on the tower.


Phyllis Vance Larsen told me that pipe cleaners were a hit in her home. “My cat loved the packet given by my sister. You can shape them into all kinds of things. The spring shape is a favorite of my cat.” Pictured here, Baxter is looking cute with a plush toy.

Frosty_XmasOn a somewhat similar note, Alison Griffith, said that her cat took a shine to twist ties. Shortly before Alison moved, she got a box in the mail that was tied shut with twist ties. Alison cut off the tie and threw it on the floor. “Before I had the other one off and the box open, Frosty had already claimed the tie as hers. I don’t know if she still has it, but she would just lay there and chew on it and then drag it around the apartment.” Alison noted that the twist tie was hard enough Frosty couldn’t chew through it.

Mikaela_CatsMikaela Cashman passed on the idea of Valerian Root to me. It isn’t something she has actually tried yet with her cats, but she received some samples of it, and plans to use it with her cats. According to Mikaela, Valerian Root it like catnip. It is pills that you open, then heat up like tea, and the smell alone affects cats. From posts I’ve read online, Valerian Root has a reputation of sending cats dancing and rolling around your house. 😉


Having been an owner of guinea pigs for about ten years, I can’t end my post without mentioning a couple of the best presents we gave them. To celebrate Fruity’s eighth birthday, Andy and I bought party hats for all our pets. Then we treated them to snacks. For my guinea pigs, this meant a large bowlful of vegetables and fruits. Fruity died the following year, which is why this remains one of my favorite memories of her. When she died, our third guinea pig was left alone for the first time. Andy made a cardboard playhouse for her to run through and of course to chew.


What’s the best, funniest, worst, sweetest gift your pet has ever received? Maybe you gave the gift. Maybe someone else did. Share in the comments below and let’s create some smiles this December.

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