Purr-fect presents for pets

Toys, treats await many four-legged family members

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

Little boys and girls aren't the only ones Santa will pay a visit to this Christmas.

Many of Clark County's furry, four-legged residents -- both the naughty and the nice -- will awake Christmas morning to find their own overflowing stockings and wrapped gifts under the tree.

In the final shopping days before the holiday, animal lovers flocked to local pet stores to pick up presents for their canine and feline family members.

Shoppers sniffed out all the best toys and treats: stuffed animals with squeaky bellies, rawhide bones shaped like candy canes, toy mice filled with catnip, and even puppy apparel.

Carly Hafenbrack and her mom, Denise Hafenbrack, stopped by Beastie Boutique in Salmon Creek on Saturday hoping to find gifts for their 13-week-old black Labrador retriever, Grace.

"She's supposed to be a hunting dog, so we're gonna get her a peasant or a duck (stuffed animal)," said Carly Hafenbrack.

Grace and the family's 14-year-old vizsla, Abby, each have their own stocking for Santa to fill. This year, the dogs will get plenty of tennis balls, dental chews and toys, Hafenbrack said.

"The cats get stockings, too," she said. "They're super spoiled."

The Hafenbracks aren't the only ones spoiling their pets this Christmas.

"Everybody buys for their pets," said Kristina McLeskey, owner of Beastie Boutique.

Rather than buying the "foo-foo stuff," such as puppy dresses, people tend to stick to the basics: toys and treats, McLeskey said.

The top seller at the store every year are the handmade doggie cookies. The holiday cookies are shaped like snowmen, candy canes, Christmas trees and snowflakes and topped with a yogurt-based frosting.

Gail Anderson's long-haired miniature dachshunds Cooper and Marley can expect plenty of treats in their stockings this year. They'll also find some toys, though none that make squeaky noises.

"They like to play tug-of-war, so I'm trying to find something that will hold up to their tugging and chewing," Anderson said.

Kendall Aichele of Ridgefield was also on the hunt for chew toys for Rambo and Ruby, her daughters' 9-month-old Labrador-shepherd mixes. She walked through PetSmart, her arms cradling a stack of Christmas-themed rawhide bones, tennis balls and stuffed animals.

"Just some stuff to occupy their time so they stop digging and eating each other's collars," she said.

Not everyone at the pet store was looking for pet gifts. Some were looking for pets to give as gifts.

In the first few hours of business, the store sold a couple birds and a chinchilla and adopted more than half a dozen cats, said Kenny Dodd, the Hazel Dell PetSmart store manager.

At the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, shoppers can pick up gift certificates in the amount of adoption fees. The certificates give the recipient the opportunity to visit the shelter, bond with an animal and take it home, said Erin Griffin, humane society spokeswoman.

The shelter also has a gift shop where mesh harnesses, treats and Kong rubber toys are hot items, Griffin said.

Many shoppers go beyond just purchasing gifts for their pets.

At Beastie Boutique, a white Christmas tree is flanked by bags of kibble for the shop's annual pet food drive. At PetSmart, shoppers donate millions every holiday season for animal welfare charities.

"Everybody's in a giving mood this time of year," Dodd said, "and the pets reap the rewards."

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.