The winter-centered imagery of the song, “My Favorite things”, made famous by Julie Andrews in Sound of Music, is a popular selection during the holiday season. The song mentions silver white winters, whiskers on kittens, snowflakes, and sleigh bells, and I always enjoyed the optimistic lyrics until I realized that the only mention to our canine companions was a negative one: “when the dog bites”…so I decided that it isn’t a favorite any more. I realize that dogs occasionally bite, but I prefer to focus on the positive when considering our loyal four-footed companions …(I truly believe that most dog bites are the fault of the human involved rather than the dog, but that is another subject).

I would like to share a few of my dog-related favorites that would make awesome gifts for dog loving friends …or friend-loving dogs:

E-books and Kindles are impressive, but there is something extra special about an old fashioned, honest-to goodness book, and my very favorite coffee-table-book author is Christine Davis. For anyone looking for the perfect gift for a pet lover, I suggest a book by Davis, who, when she lost her beloved dog to a mysterious illness, was devastated, and searched for a book to comfort her and lift her spirits. Unable to find anything to ease the hurt in her heart, she determined to write one herself. With no experience in book publishing, she borrowed money, and embarked on a scary venture, writing and illustrating a tribute to the special relationship that she and Martha, her four-footed friend, had shared. It was a labor of love!

As she asserts, “All dogs bring the gift of love to the world. In that way, they are very much like angels. Dogs will share their love with anyone. They don’t ask for anything in return, but if someone takes a moment to scratch a dog under the chin, or tell the dog how special it is, you can be sure its guardian angel is smiling.” For Every Dog An Angel was a huge success…it has been reprinted three times, and she has since written Forever Paws, The Shelter Dog, and Old Dog and the Christmas Wish, all delightful, whimsical, heart-warming books that celebrate the unconditional love between animals and their humans. For information on any of Davis’ books, contact your local bookstore or Lighthearted Press at, or call toll free at 1-877-385-6837 for prompt, courteous service. Any (or all) of these books will delight the recipient for years to come.

There is no agency overseeing the $50 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and most pet stores and catalogs area filled with dog toys that look like fun, tempting us to buy a few for our favorite dog, but BUYER BEWARE: With the market being flooded with cheap imports, it is difficult to be sure a product is safe and non toxic, and when it comes to safety, think choking hazards. Although tennis balls are a common dog toy, for example, they can be a problem if the dog chews them apart, and tries to swallow pieces. Dogs love squeaky toys, but serious chewers can quickly remove the squeaker, and choke on it. Dogs also love rawhides (most of which are imported, and often contain toxic chemicals)…I do not recommend giving rawhides either as a gift or to your own dog. Before you buy a cute latex dog toy, give it the sniff test. Many are tainted with toxic contaminants. Cheap and cute should not be used as criteria for dog toy gifts, and as long as the dog toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the buyer to consider quality and safety. Kong toys are my favorite dog toys. The original Kong is a treat-holding, nearly indestructible object with a quirky bounce. Planet Dog Company offers a full spectrum of fetching, non-toxic, U.S made toys, and West Paw Design Company focuses on tough, yet flexible dog toys. If you google these companies, you will find a variety of quality, safe toys.

If you are looking for a gift for a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, barks excessively, or exhibits other inappropriate behavior, the heartbeat music therapy CD , Canine Lullabies , would be a great gift. There are many CD’s that promise to “calm dogs” or “make them happy”, and most of them are worthless, but Canine Lullabies really does reduce stress by providing non-threatening, comforting music (and uses the sound of an actual heartbeat, not just a “thumpity, thumpity” sound). For more information on this product, visit or call 1-800-537-7748.

As you choose toys for your favorite dogs, remember that the best choices are not easily broken, resistant to chewing, lack parts that can break off and be swallowed, and are interesting to dogs.