Rather than buy a creature with a tail this shopping season, why not buy a gift for the tailed creature you already own? For instance,


Bestial Pleasures

What's on your pet's wish list?

Rather than buy a creature with a tail this shopping season, why not buy a gift for the tailed creature you already own? For instance, you could purchase balls that light up when they hit the ground, handcrafted leather collars, hair rollers, flea shampoos, or, as winter sets in, those adorable fleece boots and coats. To help with the important decision of what to get a pet, I talked with some local Seattleites closely connected to the animal scene.

First, I wrote Seattle Weekly's very own Pet Lady:

Dear Pet Lady,

In order to make one's pet happy, what would you recommend buying it this holiday season? Do you believe that pets even celebrate the holidays?

An Animal-Loving Elf

Dear An Animal-Loving Elf,

The happiest pet is the pet with a happy, happy owner. To this end, pets should be given bottles of their owner's favorite beverage. Pets will show their gratitude by continuing to do whatever it was they were already doing; this is rightly interpreted as their desire to share. Aside from that, the best way to help your pet celebrate the season (oh, and they do celebrate, An Animal-Loving Elf—just look at their faces! Clearly visions of sugarplums are dancing up a storm in their little pet heads!) is to allow them to play freely with any wrapping paper, give them lots of appropriate leftovers, and refrain from forcing them to wear annoying and undignified ribbons about their necks. Never is the lack of opposable thumbs more frustrating than when attempting to lose an itchy, garish red ribbon.

Season's greetings and cheers to you, An Animal-Loving Elf!

The Pet Lady

Next, I asked Ariel, a former volunteer team leader of Nine Lives at the Seattle Humane Society, what she might get her cat as a gift this holiday. "Ummm . . . my cat, Zena, is a lesbian."

Not having considered gay pets before, I inquired what might be a good holiday gift for her homosexual cat.

"She actually wants a girlfriend, really bad," Ariel remarked. "I already have another cat who's male and whom she dislikes. I can't get another female cat just for her, so I'm going to get her a stuffed cat to see if that appeases her."

For those of you with gay pets—and you know who you are—perhaps you should consider their special gay needs this year. Some options I've found are at www.allpride.com/petsitems.htm, thanks to which your pets can now don all the popular gay apparel: a rainbow nylon pet collar ($6), I Love My Gay Parent pet tag/charm ($5), or even a rainbow bandana ($5.50).

Or what about promising the new documentary Out in Nature: Homo- sexual Behavior in the Animal Kingdom, which explores same-sex relationships in an astounding number of wild species. Having just recently been shown at Seattle's Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the movie isn't out on video yet, but you should be able to plop it in your pets' hot little paws shortly.

Gay, straight, or just fixed, your pets can always count on treats warming their furry hearts. Web browsing brought me to www.pet-net.net, where one can choose from a variety of homemade goodies from the Pet Paradise Bakery. But why not go all out and get the company's Fur-ociously Festive Christmas Basket ($59.99) that's brimming with toys and treats, including one pound of carob cookies and one pound of banana cookies in delightful Christmas shapes. It also includes a squeaky toy, a rope or ball toy, a Christmas toy, a box of carob confections, a Potato/Liver Nylabone, a flavored 10-inch stick, and a sweet-smelling shampoo—all packaged in a basket with a merry wrapping.

If you want to shop locally, head to Bark Natural Pet Care, located in Ballard (5338 Ballard N.W., 783-4972) and Fremont (513 N. 36th, 633-2275). "The turkey cranberry (turkey-shaped) cookies and chewy peanut butter bonbons are some of the dogs' favorites," says Karen Mountain, owner of Bark. Whether you're Christian, Jewish, agnostic, or otherwise, there's a cookie that fits your faith at this store. While treats will sweeten your dogs' and cats' affections, Bark's fabulous selection of toys, collars, leashes, and other creative pet products will similarly have them wagging and purring with appreciation.

Finally, what should those of us with exotic pets (ferrets, rats, lizards, snakes—oh my!) give as gifts? Lisa Johnson, rat owner, says, "I have two male rats that appear to be quite fond of one another. Gifts for them to enjoy together might include fancy trail mix for special meals or soft bedding-fluff for their hammock where they like to cuddle and clean one another." Rat & Mouse club of America (www.rmca.org) also has ideas on how you can trigger some happy squeaks.

Ferrets undoubtedly wouldn't mind having a holiday upgrade on their cage—these little fur snakes need all the room they can get. At www.darkpath.net/ ferretsmart/cages.html you can find some good cage choices, like the two- or three-level cage condo (for $125 or $195, respectively; 20 bucks makes the cage mobile with wheels). For fun, head to your local hardware store and pick up four or five feet of dryer tube for some cheap ferret thrills, or get a mini-Kong ($5.99), an indestructible red rubber toy. Fill it with your ferret's favorite treat and watch the frolicking unfold.

Snakes and lizards are a little tougher to shop for; still, one can never be too educated in reptilian pet care. To learn more about your reptile friends, join the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society at www.pnhs.net. Otherwise, please your reptiles the same way you please your two-legged loved ones during the holidays: Feed them on time.


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