Pets get presents, too

Jo Ann Vindigni puts hats on seven-year-old rescue dogs Gopher and Maggie. Dan Watson/The Signal

Every holiday, Jo Ann Vindigni of Valencia enjoys shopping for loved ones, including her three children, grandchildren, and dogs Maggie and Gopher.

The latter pair can’t quite be trusted to stay away from the pile of presents under the tree, however.

“We can’t put out their gifts. They always sniff them out,” Vindigni said.

Maggie and Gopher get yummy treats, including those without chicken for Gopher, who’s allergic, as well as toys. The pooches are particularly partial to long, stretchy squeaky toys.

Seven-year-old rescue dog Maggie has a tug-o-war with new toy. Dan Watson/The Signal
Seven-year-old rescue dog Maggie has a tug-o-war with new toy. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It’s great for tug of war, “Vindigni said. “When I feel like torturing them, I also get them headwear, such as Santa caps and reindeer antlers.”

Maggie and Gopher were also not fond of the Star Wars toy bestowed upon them last year.

“They didn’t touch them,” Vindigni said.

Buying holiday gifts for her dogs has been a tradition since adopting the duo five years ago. The reason is simple, according to Vindigni.

“They’re part of the family,” she said.

Vindigni is far from alone. A report from the American Pet Products Association states that more than 50 percent of dog owners and 38 percent of cat owners plan to buy gifts for their pets this year. With 65 percent of U.S. households owning a dog or cat, that’s a lot of holiday shopping.

“Our regular customers all consider their pets part of the family and treat them the same as they would their kids. They not only buy a gift, they will buy multiple gifts,” said Brad Kriser, founder and CEO of Kriser’s Natural Pet, which specializes in natural pet food, treats, and supplies. Kriser’s has 42 stores across the nation (including a location in Valencia).

Presents aren’t limited to his customers own pets, either, as Kriser illustrated.

“There is also the segment of people that buy gifts for pets in the immediate family, such as grandparents buying for their ‘grand dogs’,” he said. “Others will bring something along for someone’s pet as a host or hostess gift, which I think is a great idea. Everyone brings a bottle of wine, flowers, or cake, but if you show up with something for their pet, it shows a lot of thoughtfulness.”

So, what’s hot for 2016? While treats are always in style, Kriser also recommended Luca and Westpaw beds, Chilly dog sweaters, Canada Pooch jackets or the Outward Hound Holiday Hide a Squirrel, a plush “tree” puzzle filled with tantalizing squeaky toys.

Seven-year-old rescue dog Gopher gets a holiday squeeky toy. Dan Watson/The Signal
Seven-year-old rescue dog Gopher gets a holiday squeeky toy. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We also carry cookies and plush toys for Hannukkah,” Kriser said.

On the feline side, Kriser suggested that Dr. Catsby’s Whisker Relief Bowl, the Cat Crib, Wool handcrafted pet toys, and catnip are surefire ways to win a cat over.

Max and Ginger, cats adopted by Bobbi Cirar of Valencia, enjoy the wrapping as much as the gifts they get every year.

“I let them play with a gift for a bit on Christmas Day, then unwrap it for them,” Cirar said. “They like the crinkle of the paper.”

Typical gifts for the feline duo include new blankets or bedding, as well as fuzzy toys with glitter.

“They can carry the toy in their mouth and roll it around on the floor,” she said.

CIrar noted that you can find pet gift bargains around the holidays and she isn’t averse to thinking outside the box.

“I’ll get a dog toy if it looks like something a cat would like,” she said.

Like Vindigni, a holiday celebration without including her pets would be unimaginable to Cirar.

“I treat them as if they were human because they are like family to me,” she said.

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