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Don’t forget gift for Fido

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Katrina Delfino, 14, of Placerville fits a Santa sweater on her puppy, Isabella, at the 2 Dogs & A Cat pet store.
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At 9 months, Isabella strutted into the Village Center store like she owned the place.

The Yorkshire, clad in a pink designer sweater, appeared to know 2 Dogs & A Cat very well. A store clerk greeted her with treat in hand.

“She’s so excited. This is her store,” Katarina Delfino said, holding the small dog on a leash. The 14-year-old teenager and her mother, Lisa, were shopping for dog sweaters, among other things. Delfino said her two Labrador retrievers wouldn’t go for such things.

“They’d probably eat them,” the Placerville mother said. The family is spending Christmas at their second home on the South Shore. The Delfinos are so dedicated to buying pet gifts, they walked out with presents for their friend’s dog.

As unique as it seems, people like the Delfinos are growing in numbers. The American Pet Products Manufacturers has estimated 154 million people will spend $2.6 billion on their pets over the holidays. Spokeswoman Jennifer Bilbao said the trend is going for more high-end merchandise. The Internet is loaded with Web sites carrying anything from a remote control mouse to a $95 Ralph Lauren Cashmere sweater at http://www.polo.com.

“A lot of pet owners don’t see it as a luxury anymore. They see it as a necessity. For baby boomers especially, their pets are like their family,” Bilbao. Having no kids can equal spoiled pets for those want to spend.

The most popular items are stocking-stuffer treats, Bilbao said. Gourmet dog biscuits are all the rage. That’s what the Delfinos bought for Lola, their friend’s dog.

2 Dogs & a Cat carries a wide assortment of doggy treats that look like something smacking of human food. Many customers have admitted being fooled. But that’s only an inventory sampling.

Shoppers may buy a trophy mouse for their cats that resemble a deer-head hanging. There’s also a mouse attached to a fishing reel. One can even buy a catnip pizza. A variety of squeeze toys include Jewish stuffed animals with names like Schlep and “Walter, the Farting Dog.” The toy is based on a book. Cat owners may also enjoy the popular book “Why Cats Paint.” For the light side, the shop stocks a calendar highlighting the dog feces of the month.

Canine-loving readers may also be intrigued by “Modern Dog, a lifestyle magazine for urban dogs and their companions.” The periodical looks like a animal version of “Vanity Fair.”

“Look at this. Can you tell we love our animals?” John Madden said. The Omaha, Neb., man is visiting his sister in Gardnerville for the holidays. He shopped for her dog. His Australian shepherd, Woodrow, died last April.

“With him, every toy had to squeak,” he said.

Richter said the most popular squeak toy this year is Henrietta, the plastic chicken for dogs. For the more practical, the store carries shampoo for dogs and scratch poles for cats.

“I’ve never had a cat,” he told a caller dealing with a pet that relieves itself behind the sofa. Some calls have to be diverted to a trainer or veterinarian.

Pet Supermarket, located at the “Y,” also carries an aisle filled with pet Christmas gifts.

Pet Gift Web Sites

http://www.politicalpettoys.com

http://www.christmasgifts.com

http://www.campmor.com

http://www.polo.com


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