When the holiday season rolls around, I always look for ways to include my pets in the festivities. They’re part of the family, after all. They deserve a little special treatment, whether it’s an extra dish of diced chicken or a special new toy.
That’s why my dog and two cats each have a their own small Christmas stocking. Each December, I buy them a few new treats and toys. And what’s more, the people who know me best will often add pet-related items to my Christmas gifts. They know I’ll appreciate a gift of homemade dog treats for Oreo than almost anything else. Based on the many holiday-themed dog and cat toys I’ve been seeing in the stores lately, I’m not the only person who likes to include their pets in the holidays. But I have to be honest, some of the holiday-themed toy packages I’ve seen displayed are pretty cheap, and they don’t look like they’d hold up long in my household. So I’ve come up with a list of a few high-quality pet products made by Maine companies that either my pets have enjoyed or I’ve heard good things about. Check them out if you feel like spoiling your own pets OR if you’re trying to find a gift for that pet-lover in your life — you know, the person whose children just happen to be covered in fur.
Planet Dog toys and accessories
Planet Dog is a Maine-based company that makes a variety of dog toys and accessories, and for the holiday season, they’re offering a line of cleverly festive products, including the Classic Canine Stocking ($9.95); chew toys Orbee-Tuff Snowball bouncy ball ($11.95), Orbee-Tuff Bulb with Treat Spot ($12.95), Orbee-Tuff Coal lump ($11.95), Orbee-Tuff Mint ($11.95); a plush Squeaky Gingerbread Buddy ($9.95); and plush Naughty and Nice Lil’ Buds ($9.95).
Planet dog has a line of eco-friendly products, as well as a line of products made in the United States. What’s more, the company donates 2 percent of every sale to the Planet Dog Foundation to support canine service programs. Since 2006, the foundation has given away more than $1 million to help dogs help people. To purchase products online or look up a retail store in your area that sells Planet Dog items, visit www.planetdogfoundation.org.
One more thing. If looking for a holiday event to attend with your well-behaved pup this holiday, consider attending Planet Dog’s ninth annual “Sit with Santa” event, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Planet Dog Company Store at 211 Marginal Way in Portland. At the fundraising event, dogs and children are welcome to come sit with Santa. The cost is $10 and includes one photo provided at the event. Other photos will be available to download later. All proceeds of the event go to the Planet Dog Foundation to support canine service programs.
The Pussums Cat Co. catnip toys and (human) nightshirts
Based in Turner, Maine, this small company produces high quality catnip, vibrant catnip toys and (my personal favorite) comfy night shirts for all the cat lovers out there. I first came across this little business at the Unity Common Ground Fair, where they were displaying their wares. I purchased their handsewn Dr. Pussum’s small sack of catnip ($2.99), as well as an oversized yellow night shirt with a cat face graphic on the front ($20). It has pockets. It’s awesome. Trust me. I was so excited about wearing this amazing nightgown that I put it on the night after purchasing it, without washing it first. Right away, my cat, Arrow, came up to me and started rubbing his head all over me (and drooling, though he’ll never admit it). It was a bit awkward, but then I realized that the shirt must smell like all of the catnip The Pussums Cat Co. sells. I couldn’t smell it, but my cat certainly could. So, unless you want to get mauled by your cats, wash the nightshirt before wearing it. To learn more, visit www.drpussums.com.
Dogn’i dog apparel and accessories
This small Bangor business specializes in stylish dog clothes, leashes and collars. Oreo has two Dogn’i custom-made flannel jackets that he wears all winter long so he can join me on my snowshoeing expeditions without freezing. The jackets fit him perfectly, and they’re multi-layered, making them super durable. Jackets cost $29.99-$59.99, depending on your dog’s size. Just call up Dogn’i owner Cynthia Rollins at (207)907-4289 to get started. You can also email her at email@example.com. And many of the Dogn’i products are available at Bear Brook Kennels at 19 Bennett Road in Brewer. One cool gift idea: sign someone up for the Dogn’i Bandana of the Month Club and their dog will receive a new, themed bandana each month. Dogn’i also sells handmade dog collars and leashes ($24), dog pajamas ($20) and pet carriers ($35.99).
Guyot Designs portable dog bowls
Maine-based Guyot Designs makes an ingenious product called the Squishy Pet Bowl, which is a collapsible silicone dog bowl that you can smoosh into your backpack and take on an adventure. My dog Oreo has one. It’s blue and has also proven to be indispensable for our many hiking trips. One of the coolest things about it: you can squish it just enough to create a spout to pour the water back into the bottle when your dog is finished. Just remember to mark which water bottle is the dog’s. At backcountryk9.com, they cost $13.95 – $23.95, depending on the size.
The Maine Dog collars, dog toys, and gifts for pet lovers
Check out the simple, Maine-inspired designs of The Maine Dog, a company based in Camden Maine. On the Maine Dog website, you can purchase a variety of plush dog toys and vibrant bamboo collars ($29), as well as gifts for dog lovers, such as dog-themed coffee mugs ($11.99-$14.95) and T-shirts ($24.99-$29.99). My personal favorite is The Maine Dog canvas and rope frisbee ($7.99). My dog Oreo loves soft frisbees that he can chase and play tug-of-war with. This toy has a nautical feel to it, like many of The Maine Dog products. For information, visit www.themainedog.com.
Uncommon Paws products for cats and dogs
Based in Portland, Maine, Uncommon Paws has a wide range of unique, high quality products for cats and dogs, including collars, leashes, beds, blankets, toys, treats, herbal remedies, harnesses, natural tick and flea products and gifts for cat and dog lovers. The company devoted to providing interesting and different products for pets while minimizing their carbon footprint and thinking local. The online store is fun to peruse and easy to navigate. Some of my favorite items are Uncommon Paw’s seasonal collars ($22-29) and, of course, the Uncommon Paw’s Christmas doggy bow ties ($15)! For information, visit www.uncommonpaws.com.
Maine Tree Ornaments dog and cat wooden ornaments
Husband-and-wife team Horace and Noella work from their home-based shop in Mid Coast Maine, where they produce a wide variety of artwork, including beautiful handmade wooden ornaments. Their Maine Tree Ornaments include several ornaments that are perfect for dog and cat lovers ($10-12.50), including ornaments of specific dog breeds, such as Dachshund and Boxer. They also make more general cat-dog ornaments, such as an ornament of a dog and a cat sitting beside each other or an ornament that simply says “I love dogs.” To learn more, visit www.scrollsawornaments.com/dogs.html for dogs, or www.scrollsawornaments.com/cats.html for cats.