Happy Holidays! I hope all of you are delighting in the merriment of the season. I'll be honest with you, when it comes to Christmas, I tend to be a bit of a "Grinch"! I over-commit and never remember to take traffic, crowds, budgets, or my own energy levels into consideration. I am usually left sick, tired, broke and frustrated before most people have their Christmas lights up. Every year I promise I'm going to "scale-back" and do things differently but it never happens. I would do much better if the holidays came every FOUR years like the Olympics or Presidential elections. So, if you are anything like me, here are a few tips and pointers for great gifts and other suggestions to make your holidays much more fun and less chaotic.
It's all about the gifts.
To come up with this list I put the word out to all my pet-parents and Pug networks asking for suggestions on holiday gift ideas. In addition, I talk to pet parents daily and ask for feedback on products. I am in both big-box pet retailers and the finest pet boutiques in the Greater Los Angeles area so I keep tabs on what is available and the best deals.
So here it is: The Weekly Runt's 1st Annual 🐾"Paw-liday" Gift Guide🎁 When it comes to Pugs (or Labs and several other breeds for that matter) nothing is a bigger hit than: F O O D! So why not treat your pet to delicious, healthy meals all year long with a splurge on a better premium food. This is the gift that will pay you back in huge dividends, with better health for your pet and less expensive vet bills. Check some of my pet nutrition blogs for recommendations. Another idea is what I am doing and that is taking cans of Salmon or Turkey NULO over to all of Olive's neighborhood doggie friends so they can enjoy a "Christmas dinner in a can". -Or it can be stuffed in a Kong for a holiday treat. It's an inexpensive way to remember the four-legged friends in your life!
Treats are also very high on the list and there are such a cornucopia of products I can't possibly mention them all. I always go for humanely farmed in the USA, organic, human-grade products that don't contain any unhealthy ingredients. My favorite are All-Natural, free-range, humanely farmed Buffalo ears and bully sticks by Only Natural Pet. For around $8 you get 3 ears that last for hours and can be enjoyed by even tiniest of pups safely. I remember the delight of a skittish little teacup Chihuahua named "Keepie" daintily nibbling on an ear that was nearly the same size as she was. They are a great source of glucosamine as well as a nice way for your pet to relieve anxiety if the holidays are overwhelming them. For us it's wine or, in my case, Haagen Dazs. I will warn you the downside is these suckers will smell like a heard of dogs expressed their anal glands and dragged rotten trash through your house. Which may explain part of their appeal to dogs. If you can't deal with that stench, scented candles work or try odor-free natural bully sticks which are also great. Unfortunately these packages are 3xs as expensive and you must supervise to make sure dogs don't choke on them. They are available at many PetSmart stores or online: (http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Only-Natural-Pet-Buffalo-Ears/999378.aspx)
Another great MUST-HAVE for a Pug or lab or any dog that tends to eat too quickly, always be hungry or tend to pack on pounds is a slow-feeder, puzzle bowl. There are many types and sizes around. I would opt for a stainless steel bowl and not a plastic one which can be harmful. Pugs seem to get more chin acne using plastic bowls. I have a Martha Stewart puzzle bowl and have given them as gifts to "dieting" Pugs. They are available in several styles and sizes. Some are currently on clearance at PetSmart for $3-5. http://www.petsmart.com/dog/supplies-and-training/bowls-and-feeders/automatic-feeders/martha-stewart-pets-slow-feed-dog-bowl-5152988.html
Im sure every good dog will be getting toys and next to food, my second most asked question is: What toys are best? After donating thousands of toys over the years to shelters and purchasing new ones all the time, I have to agree with the trainers I work with. The best toys for Pugs (or almost every breed of dog) are the good old rope toys. I particularity like knotted toys made of soft, organic, fleece. They are colorful, light, non-toxic, machine washable, inexpensive and best of all SAFE. No worries about stuffing, squeakers, or cracking teeth. Great for all ages and sizes of dogs. They can be found at most pet stores or, if you're the crafty type, go to a fabric store and make a few yourself. Another great toy is the tried-and-true tennis ball. Make sure they are durable and small enough to fit into a dog's mouth so they can "fetch"! Most pet stores carry tennis balls in assorted sizes and shapes but I love the ones that say "Dog is Good". You can purchase here: "https://m.theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/store/ars/item/59879/dog-is-good-tennis-ball-dog-toys-set-of-6
Every Pug owner needs Pug Eggs. A great toy many pug owners are raving about. Best of all, your purchase will not only make your Pug happy, you will be supporting Pug rescue. Check out all the great things on the site: http://pugjava.com/store/
I have learned the hard way with dog toys. I've had many a teeny-tiny-teacup-sized-pup deceive me by ripping up stuffed toys faster than I can put down the lid on a toilet seat. Kongs, bones, and bully-sticks have also quickly been devoured turning into choking hazards. Now, I recommend the flat unstuffed toys currently on sale for a couple of bucks at PetSmart. They are filled with squeakers and a paper that crinkles when the toy is played with. These are super durable, machine washable and even tiny dogs get over their fear and love ❤️ them. They carry them in their teeth, thrash them about and play tug-a-war with them.
For Pit-Bulls and the most aggressive chewers, I love Tuff-Toys which are made of durable, non-toxic firehouse material. It's strong enough to resist rough play but won't chip or harm teeth.
Even if they cuddle up in bed with you every night, most pets will love and use a new bed or pad. There are some insanely nice ones that are heated and come with Temper-Pedic memory foam. Most pet stores have deals going on right now and a comfy new bed can be found without putting much of a dent in your wallet.
Speaking of your wallet, don't feel bad if you can't afford holiday gifts for your fur baby. The best gift of all is of course your love and devotion all year long. Heck, with that, it's Christmas everyday. If finances are tight, go on a long walk, look at the beautiful holiday lights, celebrate each other and call it a day. If you're plagued with guilt you can celebrate a few days later and buy a few things on clearance. Your dog will never know the difference.
Many of you are strapped more time than money. Instead of purchasing a gift, why not make up coupons for your dog-walking or dog-sitting services. Offer to arrange a play date. Another idea is to donate some time volunteering at a local rescue or shelter.
Now that I've checked the dog off the list, my holiday gift guide wouldn't be complete without clueing you in on some great finds for YOU or your DOG-LOVING friends.
Dog is Good offers perfect finds for NOT the DOG but the DOG LOVER. Created by My girlfriend Gila Kurtz and her husband of more than 20 years, retired USN officer Jon. Gila is an award-winning author, motivational speaker and dog trainer turned entrepreneur. This creative, hard-working, husband/wife team started with a catchy "Dog is Good" T-shirt back in 2007. Now it has evolved into a global lifestyle brand featuring unique decor, gifts and events.
Some of my all-time favorites are the pop-art T's, totes and prints that feature a little Pug and the saying, "We had to give the children away...Mr. Puddingstone was allergic"
The "Dog is my Zen" yoga hoodie nearly gets ripped off my back every time I wear it. It was awarded "Best in Show" at this year's Global Pet Expo. So whether you're into yoga or just want to dress like you are, I know you will love this piece. Check out the website catalog and go crazy with some one-of-kind gifts any dog-lover will treasure. While you're at it you will be supporting a wonderful small business and giving back to some worth dog causes.http://www.dogisgood.com/
While the focus is on products for the "the dog-lover at the other end of the leash" they do have some faves for your dog that are always a big hit: the dog water bottle is a stainless, portable water bottle with the DIG logo. It keeps water cold and offers a roller-ball at the spout for clean, easy use by a Canine.
The holidays can be a very difficult time for those who have lost a pet. If someone in your life is in this situation Shutterfly or Walgreens allows you to make a coffee mug or other keepsake items with a favorite photo of their pets. I have made several mugs with Raisin on them and I always feel happier taking him along on my commute. Watch for sales where you can save up to 50% off list price. Ask the recipient for a favorite picture and create a personalized piece on your computers or download the app and make them a treasure on your smartphone.
Another idea is get them a small urn necklace that has a charm with their dog's breed and a small urn to hold some of the dog's ashes. This nice keepsake can be worn by their heart or hung somewhere special. http://m.ebay.com/itm/PET-CREMATION-JEWELRY-PUG-DOG-URN-NECKLACE-MEMORIAL-CYLINDER-PET-URN
While there is no shortage of terrific holiday (and otherwise) books featuring Pugs, I would like to feature some local favorites which will support worthy Pug clauses. My daughter, Karley wrote a book about Raisin when she was just 12 years old. "Raisin, -A Doggie's Tale," received national attention from President Obama and Oprah Winfrey. This heartwarming inspiring tale of rescuing, overcoming obstacles and responsible pet ownership are told through the eyes of Raisin, a rescue pug. Great for all ages. https://www.createspace.com/3469234
Our pug hero Andrea Comer has a new book out that will melt any Pug lovers heart. "The Joy of Horton" is 300 pages of inspiration that will tug at your heartstrings. This book also supports the efforts of Pug rescue and rehabilitation. pug-.https://www.createspace.com/6610253
And lastly, to get in the holiday spirit, I went a little crazy and hit the 50% off sale at Kohls. They had a huge selection of light-up Pug stocking caps, ugly Christmas sweaters, socks, ties and PJ's. And it wasn't all "Bah Hum Pug!" They had crazy cat Christmas wear too. I love wearing my goofy Pug Christmas sweater. It's getting me in the holiday spirit and bringing a chuckle to everyone I meet. Go check out the dwindling selection FAST!
I want to thank those of you who offered such terrific gift suggestions. It was a huge help. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, healthy and prosperous New Year.! 🎄🐾🎁