I blogged a few months back about the Top Six Greatest Products for Dogs (and the People Who Care for Them). Since the time I wrote that article, I have found a superior canine safety harness which is made by a company named Sleepypod and which has the highest crash test ratings of any harness by the Center for Pet Safety. I plan to use this type of harness in the future because it is the only harness which received acceptable crash test ratings.
Today I’m sharing some ideas related to holiday gifts for animal lovers. I do so with complete respect for every religion, knowing that everyone has their own traditions and beliefs. I have repeated some of my original recommendations because they make great holiday gifts. These ideas are in no particular order.
The One Size Fits All Gift: A Charitable Donation. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but for years my siblings and I have not sent gifts for birthdays or for holidays. We donate instead. Making a charitable donation to an animal-oriented nonprofit on behalf of someone you love is not only quick, but it really is a win-win-win. You are gifting the donation in honor of a person you care about, you are helping a nonprofit group which really needs every dollar it can get and you are helping animals in need. I do recommend that you donate to an organization which is important to the person in whose name you are donating, keeping your donations either local or limited to a national organization which functions consistent with your values. Many large animal welfare organizations use the vast majority of donations for salaries, marketing and legal fees. If you want to make sure your money will be used in ways of which you approve, do a little homework or ask your family member or friend if they have a preference.
Picture Globes. Years ago after Snakey passed away, a dear friend of mine sent me a Picture Globe and it took my breath away. The Picture Globe Company is a family-owned business based in Everett, Washington, which creates beautiful keepsake ornaments in glass. You order a globe and are then prompted to provide an image and the wording you would like on your globe. Orders take 2 to 3 weeks to process and the deadline for holiday orders this year is December 1st. Since the time we got our first Picture Globe as a gift, we have ordered many more to honor those we have lost and my most recent order was for a Picture Globe of our beloved dog, Aspy. These globes are the focal points of our holiday decorating as we celebrate our blessings while honoring those who no longer walk our life path with us. If you’re looking for a holiday item for a friend or family member that will become a cherished possession and last for years, you truly cannot go wrong with a Picture Globe. The customer service provided by this family business is truly second to none and you will probably wish you had heard about The Picture Globe Company years ago.
Rescue Chocolate. Good chocolate which supports a nonprofit group. Need I say more? Rescue Chocolate is a company based on Brooklyn, New York which handcrafts a variety of vegan chocolates with all proceeds going to charity. The designated nonprofit for the rest of 2016 is the No Kill Advocacy Center, an organization near and dear to my heart. The website for Rescue Chocolate explains the names of the flavors and why they are important:
• Peanut Butter Pit Bull (countering the negative public image of the pit bull-type dogs)
• Pick Me! Pepper (highlighting the advantages of choosing pets from animal shelters instead of breeders or pet stores)
• Foster-iffic Peppermint (highlighting the need for people to provide foster care for shelter animals as they await their forever homes)
• The Fix (highlighting the importance of spay and neuter)
• Mission Feral Fig (highlighting the humane solution for feral cats, TNR)
• Fakin' Bacon (a salute to farm animal sanctuaries and compassionate gourmands)
• Forever Mocha (highlighting ways to help people make and honor a lifetime commitment to their pets)
Shelter Pups (and cats). Shelter Pups sells handmade dog and cat stuffed animals, both ready-made (so you can choose the animal to "rescue") or made for you using images of your beloved pet. I admit that I first looked into this company to have stuffed animals made from images of our own dogs, thinking it was just a specialty company. When I learned that the mission of this company is to raise awareness and help real shelter animals, well, I was hooked. I invite you to visit the Shelter Pups website to learn how this all started with a little girl named Theodora who wanted a stuffed toy which looked like the shelter dogs she loved and while working to help dogs at her local animal shelter. You can either "rescue" an animal and send it to your family member or friend or you can have a dog or cat hand made from images of a specific animal (as we did with images of Snakey and Aspy).
Perpetua DNA Life Jewels. I am not a big jewelry person. I wear one of a host of necklaces I own which have sentimental value to me. One carries a locket which holds images on my parents and our dogs. Another carries charms engraved with the names of our dogs. A few months ago, I heard about a special product you can have made using DNA, either human or animal and I was intrigued. I thought it might just be a rip-off or a scam. I mean, really, how can a company take DNA and use it to make jewelry or other items? I did some homework and you can now call me a believer. Perpetua Life Jewels was the inspired idea of a veterinarian who wanted to memorialize her lost dog using DNA. There are a host of products available on the website and there is a video which shows how the process works. Rich gifted me a Duet Life Jewel necklace which includes the DNA of both of our dogs. Aspy was still alive when he had it made. Now that Aspy is gone, the necklace is all the more precious to me. I cannot touch our dogs or see them, but I can feel closer to them every time I wear my DNA necklace, as I am today. You do have to provide DNA in order to have a jewel created and that may take a little sleuthing on your part, but the gift of a DNA jewel is one which will be cherished for years. Your jewel can be part of a pendant, necklace or bracelet. Based on the way they are constructed, the jewel could also easily be part of a key chain or just hang from the rear view mirror of your vehicle.
Photo Dog Tags. As an Army veteran, I spent years wearing "real" dog tags and I still have them as a keepsake. I also now have a number of photo dog tags which hang from the rear view mirror inside my car. Rich has his own set for his truck. The concept is simple: you provide a photograph or photographs of a beloved pet (living or remembered) and the images are put on a dog tag shaped piece of metal. This gift is a great idea for both men and women, as the dog tag can either be used on a chain or a key chain. Technology has changed since I bought our first dog tags with images of Snake years ago and has changed for the better. The most recent photo tags I purchased of Aspy came from a company which does business in eBay as LGU Enterprises under the name of Samumari800. The company is based in the United States and also sells items on Etsy. There are a number of options when buying photo dog tags. I use this company because the process is very quick and efficient. You order, provide the image or images you want to use, are provided a proof to review so you can see what the finished product will look like and your dog tag is produced and shipped quickly.
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson