After being sick with COVID last Thanksgiving, my 2020 holiday season gift-giving was lackluster, at best. This year, I was so eager to get back into the swing of things, I didn’t wait for December. I decided to give presents at Thanksgiving instead.
I absolutely love choosing gifts and imagining the pleasure of the recipient if I manage to pick out just the right present. While I was doing my pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping, I was inspired by an item that I thought would bring happiness to the people on my list and their pets as well.
If you were not able to purchase a 2021 cat or dog Advent calendar at Trader Joe’s, you can blame me. I think I managed to buy out all the stores in the greater Pasadena area, which wasn’t easy given their limitations on buying in quantity.
As a child myself, and then with my son, I loved the thrill of counting down the days to Christmas by opening one “door” of the Advent calendar each day, beginning the first of December, and finding a tiny toy, chocolate or festive drawing hidden inside.
After giving out literally hundreds of pet Advent calendars in recent weeks, I’ve explained the Advent calendar many times to those who are not familiar with the tradition. And for those who are accustomed to Advent calendar goodies, I sometimes had to quickly explain before a human started to down a tiny salmon biscuit … that the treat is for your pet, not you.
The holiday pet industry is booming. According to a recent study, more than 70% of dog and cat owners buy their pets special gifts or treats during the holiday season. A quick online search or a visit to a pet supply store, such as our Pasadena Humane Shelter Shop, will immerse you in a world of Christmas and Hannukah-theme toys, sweaters and treat flavors like Holiday Feast and Santa Snacks.
While buying gifts for our non-human family members is certainly gratifying for us and them, I wanted to offer some other ideas on how to share the holiday spirit with your pets.
–Take your dog to see the holiday lights. Some of my favorite local spots include Altadena’s classic Christmas Tree Lane, the incredible displays in the Upper Hastings Ranch neighborhood of Pasadena, and the towering tree lights on St. Albans Road in San Marino.
–Let your cat help wrap the presents. Whether its full flops onto the paper roll or gift box, cats cannot resist the temptation of a gift-wrapping party. Enjoy the laughs and kitty antics while ensuring they do not ingest any ribbon, string or harmful materials.
–Get crafty by making enrichment toys for your pets. You can easily make toys with household items, like catnip socks, cardboard hamster wheels and plastic bottle crunchy toys for dogs.
If these ideas are not for you, I encourage you to just spend extra time with your pets. Given the chill in the air this week, I have immensely enjoyed snuggling with my dog Sueshi on the couch by the fire.
I hope you find comfort and joy in your own family traditions this holiday season. And with a little creativity, you can add some new traditions that your pets will love, too.
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.