Pets love the holiday season, too

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:19 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The gentle rustling of paper at Brian Rehg’s house is a signal to Dakota that something exciting is about to be revealed.

A glimpse at her new toy, a Frisbee, and she heads for the door; it’s time to play.

Dakota, Cheyenne and Fortune, Rehg’s dogs, are included in the annual holiday celebration. In return, they offer kisses and display their excitement with wags of their tails, but Rehg does not want more.

“They bring so much to our lives and giving gifts is a good way to show a little appreciation for what they bring to us,” said Rehg, a special needs adviser at MU.

Knowing which gift is the right fit for the pet in your life might seem overwhelming, but Rehg suggests starting with a toy that stimulates your pet’s brain. An example is a toy that is made with the ability to insert treats such as peanut butter for them to retrieve.

Another dog enthusiast, Thom Bowling, an MU administrative assistant, said he believes his dog, Sophie, is a human and deserves a gift she will enjoy. This year she will receive a cantaloupe as her gift because it is her favorite food.

Although there are several options for pet gifts, Sarah Grim finds her four cats, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Patches and Sunshine, entertain themselves for hours with a pipe cleaner.

“Forget spending any money on them,” said Grim, a professional pet sitter. “Give them the stuff they really enjoy.”

Furry mice, fresh catnip Grim grows, crumpled wrapping paper, empty boxes and leather shoelaces are some of the other toys her cats enjoy.

Grim gives gifts to her pets as an enticement to help them find exer-cise and relieve boredom and stress. The laser pointer is the toy she uses for optimum exercise.

“Talk about the ultimate exercise toy,” Grim said. “They’ll chase it and chase it and chase it until they get tired.”

Although their pets are pampered, Rehg and Grim say they have everything they would want and ask their families to give money to a group that helps rescued dogs and cats. Both donate time to help with this cause.

Seeing someone give a rescued dog or cat a new home because they know the joy their pets bring to their lives is another gift they like to receive.

A gift certificate for the pet’s groomer is another strong idea.

The owners said they celebrate the holiday with their pets. Rehg has stockings hung for each dog, Grim’s tree decorations are cat focused and Bowling has reindeer ears for Sophie, if she will wear them.

Other alternatives are gifts for the pet owner, which include paintings, tea pots and collectible plates, all of cats and dogs. Car seats, strollers and bicycle baskets for pets are also available.

“It’s the important time of year for people to celebrate things that bring them joy and comfort; I think pets do that,” Grim said.

“They entertain you all year long, but there is also a sense of comfort during the holidays when you’re not able to see your family or be around friends. Pets are there 100 percent with unconditional love.”

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