The Associated Press
Your dog and cat may not know it's the holidays, but admit it, most of those pet presents are really gifts for ourselves. Brighten the dark winter days by watching your furry family have fun, and solve some common pet problems with the following suggestions:
You can get plenty of tasteful, upscale pet beds nowadays, styled to fit into your home's decor. Or you can say the heck with it and cheer up a room with a bright pink Sasquatch pet bed, "the original big foot for your little beast." If you're a fan of a certain famous colorful clog you'll go for this one, and your pet will enjoy the cozy cave made by the shoe shape. ($99.95 at http://www.sasquatchpetbeds.com/)
Prefer the recycled approach? The Molly Mutt pet duvet can be used to cover an old bed, or stuff it with old blankets, clothes, pillow, towels, even old stuffed toys to make a bed and keep more stuff out of landfills. (Different sizes, shapes and fabric patterns $20-45, http://www.mollymutt.com/)
Get tired of throwing that fetch toy over and over? Use one that will make you laugh: the Humunga Stache from Moody Pet, that makes your dog look like he's got a huge handlebar moustache. ($12 at http://www.moodypet.com/humungastache.ht...
Clicker training is the modern way to communicate with your dog, based on a positive relationship and the science of animal learning. The only problem is that sometimes it seems to require three hands. "Between the leash, the clicker and the treats, it's a bit of a juggling act," says Victoria Schade, trainer and owner of Life on the Leash in Doylestown, Pa. Solve that problem with the Clickerleash. "Just like it sounds, the clicker is cleverly incorporated into the leash handle," says Schade. ($34.95, http://clickerleash.com/)
Winter can be tough for a small dog -- and for the owner who has to make a coat and a harness work together. How did it take so long for someone to think of the 1z, a coat with a harness incorporated? Put the coat on, snap on the leash, and you're ready to go. (Find a retailer at http://pawzdogboots.com/1z-coat/)
Max and Ruffy's organic dog treats come in three cool varieties: the Molasses Explosion 1919 (named after a sticky event in the history of Boston), a delicious-smelling pumpkin flavor, and "Wolf Peach and Herb," which tastes like pizza. They're designed for dogs, but Jessica Simon of pet boutique Living Ruff in Silver Spring, Md., says that one of her human staff was eating so many of the samples that she had to buy her own box. ($8.50-9.50 at http://maxandruffys.com/)
Got a cat that's obsessed with those little laser lights? Try the Bada Beam automatic rotating laser toy. Living Ruff customer Eric Robbins is such a fan, he's made three of his friends buy it. "The Bada Beam is not for pets. It's for owners to be entertained by pets," Robbins said. Some cats chase it, but his Otis sits and stares "and sticks his paw out every once in a while in a vain attempt at catching the little red dot," he said. "Then when you turn it off, he meows incessantly, and not your typical meow. More like a cat in heat during a full moon." (Around $14.95 at major retailers including http://www.jbpet.com/Bada-Beam,1230.html...
Finally, if you've got cat-loving friends who can laugh at themselves, get them the Crazy Cat Lady board game from Archie McPhee ($19.95; http://www.mcphee.com .) Win by collecting the most cats -- you get more by landing on spaces like "Rescue Grumpy Old Cat From Pound" and lose them on spaces like "Kitten Distracted by Bit of Fluff." (There's also the Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure for $10.95.)