Every year I put out a Miami Herald column on best holiday presents for pets and their people. My favorites tend not to change, however, which makes for a fairly static holiday-to-holiday series of offerings. That’s why this year I’ll offer you my 2009 picks...with a twist courtesy of YOU.

Because you’re more interesting and creative than most pet people, I’m hoping you’ll join in to help me improve my list with your own favorite gift picks. To provide yet another incentive to participate (aside from the sheer fun of it) I’ll offer a six-month supply of your favorite flea and tick killer.

ASIDE: btw, everyone’s received their last contest wins, right? (Please inform me if you have not gotten your Frontline yet. Thx.)

OK so without any further ado I’ll start with this year’s top ten:

1-A collar-mounted GPS device: This is a fantastic device for a not-so-small dog––especially for one who has a way of getting out of his designated area on occasion. The best feature? Should he stray from his area (as small as 10 x 10 feet and as big as a BIG property), your cell phone will ring with an alert. Here’s a whole post on my favorite device.

2-Drinkwell Fountain: Still my favorite present for the cat who has everything but a good reason to drink. It can be fiddly to clean but it’s a great way to get more water into your cats (and we all know that’s a good thing).

3-A donation in a pet’s name (perhaps in the name of one recently deceased?): Later this year I’ll profile my preferred pet charities in my annual “end-of-year-tax-break” post but let it suffice to say that Heifer International and the University of Pennsylvania’s shelter medicine program are always at the top of MY list.

4-The cat loft bed: I love this one. Your kitty can sleep next to you without hogging the bed (theoretically, anhyow). It’s pretty, if nothing else.

5-Automatic feeder for wet diets: You’re all familiar with the time- and volume-released regulated automatic feeders for dry foods but what about the wet or even raw feeders among you? Now you have a variety of solutions. Here’s one. But before you buy, check out this highly informative article on the best feline automatic feeders out there.

6-Pet fur yarn: For pet lovers whose beloveds have lots of lush fur, consider having it prepped and spun into balls of knittable or crochetable yarn. Here's a company that offers this service. And even if you can’t work a needle or two, you can always send your finished yarn to someone like me (who has recently replaced smoking with obsessive knitting) who will happily knit you a simple scarf. The only problem with this gift? It requires some time. Plus, you’d be surprised at the quantities of hair you’d have to amass to spin up a few balls of yarn. Consider it for next year, perhaps, or in advance of a furry loved-one’s passing.

btw, the sweater below is made of chow-chow (tan) and samoyed (white) yarns. Gorgeous!

7-Pet books: I love pet books. Check out my Amazon picks to the right on this page. Or buy your favorite person a Kindle pre-loaded with your favorite pet books. I love mine, which I received for my birthday this year courtesy of my boyfriend (better than jewelry).

8-The Dremel: Forget the Pedi-Paws. If you’re considering trying a rotary tool for your pets’ toenails don’t go for second best. This cordless Dremel is fantastic. And for $23.86 it’s totally worth it. The only difference? It doesn’t have the protective covering so you actually have to watch that you don’t Dremel yourself. It’s a snap to get the hang of it, though.

9-The Furminator: All hail the Furminator (a-gain). In case you don’t have one yet, chances are you could probably use a Furminator. It doesn’t work for all dogs but for most it’s excellent, and I’ve met few cats for whom it hasn’t made a significant difference in terms of enhanced fur quality and hairball-hurling reduction.

10-The perfect family member: This is a tough one to tackle but it’s a project I’ll be writing about next week. I have this close family member who’s asked me to find the perfect first dog for their young family. It’s a labor of love and it’ll be my Christmas present to the whole family this year (no toys or books or other presents will be coming their way now that dog-sourcing detail is on my schedule). I’ve looked at a bunch so far and haven’t found a match but I’ll be hitting the streets hard this weekend. Stay tuned for more about my antics on this front.


OK so now it's your turn...