Wendy, a stately German shepherd, loves to laugh. Marcy says: "Go find your leash, Wendy!" Wendy races off and returns with an empty Epsom salts box. She drops it at Marcy's feet, sits, and smiles.
Wendy is happy. And that makes Marcy and Paul happy. Wendy knows how to keep the status quo: When you are stymied for gift ideas for your friends, think about presents for their pets. Wendy will be your personal shopper.
Imagine the looks on your friends' faces (human and canine) when they receive matching clothing! Land's End (800-356-4444, www.landsend.com) offers a Nordic-inspired wool sweater that gets Wendy's nod ($14-$22), as well as a Norwegian cashmere sweater ($84-$92that's for the dog sizes!) and its signature Squall Jacket ($15-$29).
Wendy enjoys walks around her Burien neighborhood, and she wants to look good for the kids at St. Francis. At Mud Bay Granary in Greenwood (8221 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-789-7977), she found collars in all sizes, styles, and prices; lighted leashes and collars ($21.75); and reflective vests ($7.75). The most intriguing offering: Grandma Lucy's freeze-dried meatball treats (10 ounces, $6.25). These come in flavors such as chicken parmesan and pot roast, and not only are they dog treats, but they are approved for human consumption. Yum!
Also at your local pet store are toys in all price ranges for every kind of petcatnip-filled mice, glitter balls that will roll under any couch, tug-of-war ropes, rawhide bones, flying disks, flower garlands or cacti for reptiles. You can make a gerbil into a star with a tiny TV that allows small animals to crawl inside. Wendy's mantra: There is no such thing as too many toys. She tests every one, chewing it to within an inch of its life, so look for something fun and rugged. She also keeps up with pop culturespecifically, television and movie tie-insvia PetCo (various locations, www.petco.com): SpongeBob SquarePants accessories, including the Jumpin' Jellyfish Aqua-Ornaments for fish (three-pack, $6.29), or an official Cat in the Hat streamer dangler ($5.95). PetCo also has a Hanukkah Latkes & Applesauce Bark Bars Gift Box (shaped like cats and mail carriers, $5.99) and the Chewish Treats Gefilte Fish Dangler cat toy ($3.99). Wendy keeps pretty busy burying bagels, but she has some pals who would love to listen to a nice CD ($9.99, PetSmart, various locations, www.petsmart.com). All Stressed Out Dog and Cat Nap Dreams run about 60 minutes each and are designed to relieve feelings of stress.
PetSmart also offers a custom pet storybook ($29.99). The kit comes with 50 blank pages, special photo tape, and watercolor markers. Wendy knows Piper would be delighted to arrange photos, drawings, and stories about her on the pages, pop them into the prepaid envelope, send it off, wait a few weeks, and receive a professionally typeset, 7- by 9-inch hardback book. Or, you could get a Pawprints Kit from the Discovery Channel Store ($29.95, Bellevue Square, Bellevue, 425-453-9160, www.discovery.com). The kit, which comes with an 11- by 17-inch frame, lets you create a paw impression without mixing, baking, painting, or mess.
Wendy is quadrilingual: She knows German (of course), English (though she sometimes pretends otherwise), and Spanish (on their walks, Paul calls out, ¡Los tres amigos! as three antic, frantic ChihuahuasUno, Dos, and Trestumble through their dog door and race to the fence to greet Wendy), and she wants to work on her Latin with Cattus Petasatus: The Cat in the Hat in Latin (Bolchazy-Carducci, $16.95). Ext-nay: ig-pay Atin-lay. If you're looking for a bedtime story, Dog Is My Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World's Oldest Friendship (Crown, $25) reminds humans that it isn't crazy to be so expressly in love. You can read while the dog biscuits are baking. The Acme brand biscuit mix with a bone-shaped cookie cutter is low in salt and fat and has no preservatives, cornmeal, or sugar. All Wendy asks is that you add water, mix, and bake. The 21-ounce box ($9 at Restoration Hardware, various locations, www.restorationhardware.com) makes about three-dozen biscuits.
Wendy knows dogs that love hiking and backpacking, and their store of choice is REI (222 Yale Ave N., 206-223-1944, www.rei.com). There, you can find portable bowls ($6.95-$17), booties for the rough going ($37.95), dog packs ($26-$84.95), personal flotation devices ($19), and a special coat for taking walks after the sun goes down. The Ruff Wear Lab Coat ($29.95) is fluorescent orange with reflective trim.
Arrange a field trip: Wendy likes to start with window shopping at Cat City (the PAWS adoption-only cat colony at Greenwood Avenue North and 85th Street, 206-782-1700), followed by a snack at Three Dog Bakery (1408 First Avenue, 206-364-9999). You can both stretch your legs at the off-leash area in Magnuson Park (7400 Sand Point Way N.E.), where it's OK to take a dip in Lake Washington (for Wendy, "swimming" means a face-first dive, much sputtering, and a rescue by Kristen). Cap the day with a shampoo and blow dry at Rub-a-Dub-Dog (do- it-yourself wash and dry, $18; 6826 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-789-5311, www.rubadubdog.biz).
And back home. Marcy says: "Wendy! Get your leash! Is it in the bedroom?" Wendy steams into the bedroom. After about five minutes, Marcy followsand there is Wendy, stretched out on the floor asleep. And everybody's happy.