Creature Feature

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    What? You didn’t know that studded leather collars are so last year? Keeping up with the latest in animal trends is tough, but don’t embarrass your furry children. Maintain your status as a hip pet mama by checking out these pawsome products and services.


    Looking for Love?

    The unconditional kind, where you are adored everyday just for being you? and SPCA have taken a cue from the popularity of dating Web sites to help you find your four-legged perfect match. They’ve partnered to showcase one eligible bachelor or bachelorette each week, and these well-dressed dogs may make you believe in love at first sight.


    Posh Accommodations

    0208GIBBERMAN.gif Traditional boarding for your pet may leave an ache in your heart as you head off on a much-needed vacation. After all, you’re having the time of your life while your beloved animal sits in a cage, waiting for you to come home. No more worries! Today’s pet accommodations, like The Pet Spot in Norwood, pamper your baby during your absence. He won’t even notice you’re gone as he romps around at day care then retires to a private suite with its own television. For added luxury, treat her to grooming and training services during her stay. You’re likely to retrieve a pup or kitty who is just as relaxed as you are!


    Not Your Ordinary Tennis Ball

    Pet toys are becoming more interactive and focused on mental, as well as physical, stimulation. Some dispense treats while playing messages that you previously recorded, so your latchkey animal can hear your voice while you’re out. Ultrasonic squeakers are finding their way into today’s chew toys, keeping your dogs and cats happy without destroying your sanity. Even small animals and birds have more entertainment choices to reduce boredom. Hamsters can forego the standard wheel and get into a rodent race car they can “drive” around a track.



    You no longer have to consult professional animal communicators to get insight into your pet’s psyche — just check his/her horoscope. Several Web sites, such as Animal Planet and iVillage, post predictions and mental insight based on your dog or cat’s astrological sign. Whether your canine is a Leo or your kitty is a Pisces, or you can only guess as to your animal’s birthday, it’s fun to see their future written in the stars.


    Sit, Stay, Super Star!

    “Lie down” and “shake” are so elementary! For all you stage moms, why stop at the basics when you can teach your dog to be a star, or at least to act like one? Once she’s mastered the foundational commands and can ignore distractions successfully, there’s no reason why she can’t progress to camera-worthy tricks like waving, crawling, dancing and playing dead. Call up Happy Tails in-home trainers your pet will soon be ready for her close up! 0708DEGROOT_FASHION.gif


    Pearly Whites Without a Trip to the Vet

    Studies indicate that proper dental care can extend the pets’ lives by several years, not to mention making their breath much more bearable. However, some stubborn breeds aren’t terribly cooperative with a toothbrush, and a professional cleaning involves anesthesia, which poses its own risks. Enter a new, drinkable dental care product for dogs and cats. HealthyMouth is made of entirely natural ingredients and tastes just like water, and it promises to reduce your animal’s plaque by 80 percent.


    Gourmet Kibble

    As we become more concerned with the quality of our food, this attitude is trickling down to the pet food industry. One of the latest trends is grain-free dog kibble. “Grains first appeared in pet foods 70 years ago to help manufactures reduce costs with inexpensive calories from carbohydrates. Carnivores do not have digestive enzymes in their saliva break down complex carbohydrates,” says Zach Day of PawshPup a Cincinnati-based online store for premium pet products. Similar to humans, animals with high carbohydrate diets can experience blood sugar fluctuations and problems with insulin resistance.


    “Most commercial pet foods feature two or more grains that exceed 40 percent of their dietary carbohydrates,” Day says. He recommends all pet parents research the foods they provide to their dogs and cats, and publications like Whole Dog Journal have good information.


    Social Petworking

      If your typing-challenged animal looks on longingly as you update your Facebook or MySpace page, don’t leave him or her out of the social network! Sites like, and allow your furry child to post photos, make blog entries, and befriend other pets and parents. Just don’t expect your cat to work well with the mouse!


    Political Pets

    He may not have the right to vote, but surely your dog has an opinion about the upcoming presidential election! Hyde Bark Fashions in Hyde Park offers gear to let your pooch make his political feelings known. From elephant collars to donkey shirts, dogs can cast their ballots with style.


    1108SENSIBLE.gif Ga Ga over Doga

    Exercise is important for dogs, and most pups enjoy a good walk or run with their parents. The ultimate bonding fitness activity, however, has to be Doga. That’s what you get when you combine yoga with your dog. To add your pooch to your yoga practice, start by choosing a safe posture in which you can be stable and your pup can be comfortable. Get into position yourself, and then gently massage your dog before adding a light stretch to his or her legs. Let the dog sink into a relaxing stretch, then sync your breathing. With practice, you’ll both become more flexible and feel more connected.


     Whether we create Web sites for our pets or buy them fashionable clothes and health supplements, one thing is for sure: We love our animals for their cute, quirky traits, but even more so for their unconditional love. We want to reward them for that, and we do it in human terms. We appreciate a good manicure and a delicious meal, so we take them to the doggie spa and purchase the feline equivalent. It’s natural for us to want to spoil them with our gratitude, and that’s okay as long as we don’t do so in excess.


    It’s worthwhile to remember, however, that what we appreciate most about our pets is their simplicity. They communicate their feelings with snuggles, kisses and adoring gazes. Perhaps they best understand that the affection is mutual when we also keep it sweet and simple.


    Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography

    Location: The McAlpin

    Models: (left to right) Carrie Cameron and Socks;  Shawnette Vaughn and Boots; and Janet Prows and Rocco
    Makeup Artistry on Vaughn: Trina Paul