Tuffy and Toto, too

Pets can’t tell you what they want, but we can

Just when you think you have everybody covered on your Christmas gift list and you’re stuffing the last stocking that hangs from the mantle, something catches your eye on the other side of the sliding-glass door to the back yard. It’s your recently acquired puppy chasing your well-established cat, who suddenly stops, turns, hisses and delivers a lighting-quick jab to the adolescent canine’s snout. She yelps and tumbles backward in a panicky retreat. With a single leap, the cat disappears over the fence.

Can’t forget the pets, you tell yourself, laughing at their cute antics. They’re part of the family, too. So you grab your pet-hair-covered coat, which is lying on the back of your cat-shredded couch and slip on the Chuck Taylor high-tops that the puppy has chewed down to low-tops.

In other words you’re nuts. All pet owners are. So you might as well go to the local pet store and drop some cash on these furry creatures who make your life so miserable. ’Cause you love them, don’t you?

Good place to start is Northern Star Mills on The Esplanade. As it turns out, that is where our pet shopping expedition ended as well when we ran out of money. Hey, look where we work.

The big black Lab who took the late Smokey’s place greeted us from the cement dock that runs along the front of the big brick building.

As soon as you walk through the entrance turn right and there you’ll find the dog and cat gifts/accessories/improvement packages all in one room. There are many more offerings for dogs than cats and that is understandable. Dogs are appreciative of the gifts you give, no matter what it is. They’ll love you for giving them a stick. You can give a cat a diamond necklace and it won’t give you the time of day in return, which, of course, is why a lot of us really like cats.

The first thing that caught our eye in the dog section was the pig snout ($1.29) pork chews by Merrick. Some people might think that gross, but the dog won’t. She’ll be taken back to her wolf-roots as she gnaws the leathery meat treat.

For the more adventurous, try the Twin Hoofers ($2.99), pig feet, cut off about an inch above the hoof. A bone-and-sinew delight also from Merrick.

Add the TireBiter ($14.99), “Real Tire Tough” on a nylon rope and you’ve just about reached your $20 limit. The TireBiter from Mammoth Pet Products claims to clean teeth and gums.

If you think encouraging your dog to bite automobile tires and eat pig parts is maybe sending the wrong signal, you may want to opt for the classic rubbery, chewy, bouncy toy called The Kong ($12.99 for large), which bills itself as the “World’s Best Dog Toy.” It also cleans teeth and gums and comes in four sizes. We know from experience—not our own, our dog’s—that The Kong is indeed popular. Add a $6.99-can of Kong Stuff’n (we can’t figure out the apostrophe alignment either) and, man, you’ve got a sure fire hit right at $20. The stuff is is a canned concoction like Cheez-Whiz and comes in four flavors—peanut butter, mint, liver and squirrel (not really). You fill the Kong with it and the puppy takes some time off from biting your ankles. (Kong Stuff’n is made in Golden, Colo., which is where Coors beer is brewed. But don’t give your dog beer; not even crappy beer like Coors.)

Now we come to the cat, the pet who ignores you until it’s time to eat, when you suddenly become master of the universe.

Is your cat getting enough veggies in her diet? Try Vita Green—“Cats & Kitty love to nibble on it”—a plastic container of a mix of organic seeds. Punch some holes in the container, put it in some water and voila, you’ll have shoots of barley, oats and wheat (no noxious weeds) for your cat to munch. Only $2.99 from Four Paws.

How about a toy for kitty? Cat Dancer ($1.99) is the “Action Cat Toy” from Cat Dancer Products of Neemah, Wis. It looks like a couple of feet of wire with some plastic miniature chew stick replicas connected to one end. The directions say, “Holding Cat Dancer lightly between your thumb and finger will remind your cat of its favorite things like birds, butterflies and scampering mice.” There’s even a “Cat-A-Monial” on the package signed by a cat named Dizzy who writes: “My favorite game so far is ‘Spin-the Cat.’ When my human bounces my Cat Dancer around and around in circles, it’s even better than chasing my tail!” Without taking the toy from its package, we still can’t figure it out. We’ll just take Dizzy’s word for it.

You could just take a page from your cat’s book and think of yourself this year by purchasing your cat Soft Claws, 40 nail caps and two tubes of adhesive—“The simple solution to destructive scratching.” Short of banishing your compulsive furniture-scratching cat to the outdoors or de-clawing her (please don’t do both), you might want to try this route for $18.99.

Putting these little plastic caps on kitty’s claws is sure to prove a fun and spontaneous holiday game come Christmas morning. Just keep the Band-aids and Neosporin within arm’s length.