When I was a kid, I wanted a pet so badly that I'd cry to my mother every night, “PLEAAAASSE, CAN WE GET A CAT?" or "PLEEAAAAAASSE, CAN WE GET A DOG?” As a woman whose weekly cleaning rituals included things like vacuuming the vacuum, she wasn't much of a pet person, per se. Gurl did not want to deal with any dander in her motherfucker house. But eventually she gave in and got us… a bird.
I know what you’re thinking. A bird is not a pet. It’s a caged animal. You can’t “pet” a bird (well you can, but you'll get pecked). Regardless, I learned to love that bird. And now, all these years later, I can finally call myself a true pet owner. I’m going 6 years strong with my Yorkie, Peanut, and couldn’t imagine life without this bitch.
How does this all of this nonsensical storytelling qualify me to write a gift guide for pet lovers? Well, for one, it means I spend a lot of time in pet stores. Two, it means I’m damn good at paying attention to small animals. And three… well… no one else wanted the assignment, so here you go. Enjoy, suckers!
OK, this has to be the most baller gift you could ever get a pet person. EVER. Park Slope artist Sian Keegan creates customized stuffed animals of your dog or cat. Simply send her a few photos of your pet (profile, close-up face shot, any distinguishing spots, etc), as well as a description of your pet’s coloring, and she’ll take care of the rest! Wait time is generally two-three weeks, so you’d have to order fast if you want by the holidays (Though a simple I.O.U. to the recipient should do if it doesn’t get there in time). The customized stuffed pets are made from found fabrics stuffed with wool, and will measure about 6 inches tall. Prices range from $125 for short-haired animals to $200 for long-haired animals. Check out Sian’s site and clip SHOP for ordering information. And seriously – imagine how happy your friend/family member/long-time-lover is going to be when he/she opens that box to see a baby version of his/her favorite pet? I’m dead just thinking about it.
I’m completely obsessed with these totally ridiculous cat and dog buttons from Badge Bomb. Design by Gemma Correll, these whimsical illustrations of your favorite pets doing all sorts of fun things (Listening to music! Wearing a sombrero! On a tug boat! Wearing a Mexican wrestling mask!) are sure to bring a smile to your face. Pick through the bins at the register at Scardey Kat and find your favorites!
In the great Cat Person vs. Dog Person debate, it’s helpful to let people know where you stand right from the get go. After all, few things in life are worse than when someone mistakes a cat person for a dog person (and vice versa). To help send the message early on, I’d suggest slapping on one of these hip tees from Brooklyn Industries. Dog people? You’ll want to go with the Dog Walker tee. This bionic dog is serving hound dog Star Wars realness, and lets everyone know from the get go you’re nerdy AND a dog person (the best combo ever, let’s be real). For you cat people out there, snatch the Cat Scratch t-shirt. It’ll let everyone know that yes, while you like cats, you’re also pretty darn cool. Plus, who doesn’t love an alley cat with an eye patch on a turntable? No one, that’s who!
4. Various Holiday Toys and Apparel ($9.99 - $24.99, UNLEASHED BY PETCO, 81 7th Ave at Berkeley St, 718-230-5059)
I’ve never been one for holiday apparel. I don’t deck the halls. I don’t wear any holiday colors. Heck, I hardly listen to holiday music (although like the other homos out there, I’m a sucker for Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”). But for all the holiday tidings I reject in my life, I tend to thrust them all on my dog. I don’t have a Christmas stocking, but she does. I don’t have an ugly holiday sweater, but she does. Why should I look like a fool, when she can take all of those fair tidings and make them look so goddamn adorable!
Almost every pet store in the ‘hood has some sort of holiday toys and apparel, but after scourging through them all, I found Unleashed by Petco has the best selection. Like these Raccoon or Reindeer Bottle Dog Toys – super cute and the best kind of chew toys for dogs because they’re filled with empty plastic bottles instead of that annoying squeaker. Or this super ugly Christmas sweater – shown here on a dog but in the store, on a cat. Can you imagine how ridiculous your friend’s pet would look wearing this?
I’m a sucker for a subscription. One year, my roommate gave me a “sunglass of the month” subscription service for Christmas and three years later, I’m still subscribing. So clearly I’d jump all over this BarkBox subscription, which sends you a box of treats and toys – all customized to your dog breed – once a month. Great gift, right? Cause here’s the thing. Dog treats and toys? Not at the top of my list of things to buy my dog. Food? Yes. Wee Wee Pads? Duh. Vet appointments? Ovi. But a box of toys and treats? That’s unique! Pick it up and if the person you’re giving it to is anything like me, he/she will be subscribing for years to come.
OK, OK. It’s not in Park Slope, nor is it Brooklyn-related. But the Dog-o-Tron Fill ‘er up bed from Trixie and Peanut is by far the best pet bed I have ever purchased. The patterns are totally cute (I’m a sucker for robots). The fabric is durable and machine-washable. And best of all, you can easily stuff the bed with whatever you want. Old towels. Winter sweaters. Extra blankets. I bought two cheap bed pillows from Costco and shoved them in there. I’m telling you – it’s the easiest pet bed out there. A total win.
7. Kate Larsen’s Box of Cats and Box of Dogs ($12.95, Loom, 115 7th Avenue, 718-789-0061)
Part of being a pet-obsessed person is being able to let your friends know at all times how much you love your pet. So why not reward your obsessive friend with these adorable card sets? 16 notecards and 16 envelopes, (size 5 5/6 x 4 1/2 x 1 in.) will surely put a smile on your gift receiver’s face. Besides, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a thank you card some day soon!
Sometimes, it’s the most ridiculous things that make the best gifts. That basically sums up Angela Rossi’s AH-MAZING plates and prints. Seriously. When I first saw these hanging on the wall at Cog & Pearl, I nearly pissed my pants with excitement. Have you ever seen something so amazing in your life? I don’t think so. If your friend is a real pet lover, then an Angela Rossi plate or print is a must-have. Prices range depending on what you go with, but no matter framed print or decorative plate, believe me – you can’t go wrong.