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Dog days of Christmas

A wish list for my canine companions

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Paco Collars would look fabulous on my boys this Christmas

Three years ago, I finally came to terms with the fact that dogs defined my life. I had recently added a third foundling to my crew of canine castoffs – all boys, all pit bulls, all tossed out like trash by the people who owned them before they crossed my doorstep – and I suddenly found myself buying fewer accessories for myself and more for the dogs. I had a doggie treadmill in my basement so the boys could jog off excess energy on rainy days, a dog bed or two in every room, a freezer just for the dogs’ food because they were all on a special raw-food diet.

Before you write me off as a Crazy Dog Lady (three is borderline; four is bona-fide crazy, I like to tell myself), I recently realized that I couldn’t spend every spare dime on treats and gorgeous collars and things that squeak. So before things got really out of hand, we cut back on the extravagances a little, which means I – um, I mean “they” – have a few things I’d like for Christmas this year.

First, the thing nearest and dearest to a dog’s heart: food. I’ve been eager to try out a specially designed diet, created by Rick’s Dog Deli (2911 Corrine Drive, 407-505-2839, ricksdogdeli.com, prices vary) in Audubon Park, which creates meal plans for dogs based on breed, size and energy level. But that’s a long-term commitment for the casual gift giver, so a bag of Alaska Naturals Wild Alaska Salmon Crunchy Dog Snacks from Pookies Pet Nutrition & Bow Wow Bakery (1980 Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-7387, pookiesbowwowbakery.com, $4.99) and a couple of all-natural, sturdy antlers to gnaw (Baldwin Bark & Meow Supply, 4836 New Broad St., 407-893-6868, baldwinbark.com, $9.99 each) would make nice stocking stuffers as well. They promise not to eat the stocking – well, Button and Tucker promise not to, at least; Doc has been known to eat socks, which landed him in emergency surgery last Christmas, but that’s a story for another time. (And if anyone wanted to put some credit on his tab at the vet for Christmas – shout out to Piedmont Animal Hospital in Apopka – he’ll be all set for the next time he has the yen for indigestible fabrics.)

Since my boys are all pit bulls, I try to make sure they put their best paw forward when they go out in public. The breed has a bad rap, so they’ve got to be ambassadors when they’re meeting new people. It helps to have them suited up in sturdy but stylish gear. With a gift certificate to Paco Collars (pacocollars.com, $25 and up), we could get them cool Western-style collars with conchos and studs, maybe, with nice leashes to match. A set of Fetching Tags (fetchingtags.net, $30 and up) with cute customizable taglines, as well as identifying info, would be a practical and polished way to complete the look.

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