Santa Paws is coming to town |

Santa Paws is coming to town

Animal gifts a growing industry fed by owners who want to pamper their pets

Two Christmas stockings that hang from Tammie Johannes’ mantle are embroidered with the names “Oliver” and “Lexie.”

Several wrapped gifts under her tree bear the same names. And by Christmas morning, friends and relatives will have deposited more presents for Johannes’ two Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix dogs.

Johannes is among the 154 million pet owners the American Pet Products Man-ufacturers Association estimates will purchase gifts for their pets this holiday season.

“These are my children,” Johannes said. “They are spoiled, but we love our pets.”

For Johannes, buying doggie sweaters, chew toys and plastic candy canes filled with dog bones is a holiday tradition.

The average pet owner will spend about $25 per animal on gifts, according to a Pet Supplies Plus survey.

Dog owners are among the biggest spenders, the survey found.

“People spoiling their dogs used to be a fringe group. Now, it’s very mainstream,” said Lisa Woody, president of the Internet-based “People may have children, but that doesn’t mean Fido is getting squeezed out. This is fashionable. Pets are becoming part of the family.”

Woody said people used to sound a little sheepish when ordering Christmas presents for their pets. Now, she hears from very few embarrassed customers.

“People used to whisper over the phone when they ordered products,” Woody said. “That’s happening less and less, and during the holidays, the gloves are off.”

Her business’s revenues this year are nearly double compared with last year. Woody said she has fewer customers, but the $50 to $60 average price for each order is higher than it’s been in the past.

Luxury products top the Am–erican Pet Products Man-ufacturers Association’s list of this year’s top 10 pet picks.

“The emphasis is on fun and comfort,” Woody said. “The holidays are a good time to get something you’ve been meaning to get that’s a little more pricey.”

Pet hygiene, automatic feeders and relaxation products also are in the top 10 pet gifts this year.

Craig resident Brenda Wilson had her 14-year-old Labrador retriever’s picture taken this year with Santa Claus.

She calls it the family picture.

Wilson has two daughters and three dogs, and she said her daughters complain about the attention the dogs get.

“They say, ‘You’re always kissing the dog and not kissing me. You give more love to the dogs,'” Wilson said.

Last year, the dogs got new beds, dog treats, sweaters and collars.

“We love our dogs,” Wilson said.

She even purchased presents for her parents’ dogs.

In 1994, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assoc-iation figured people spent $17 billion a year on pets. That figure is expected to hit nearly $36 billion this year, industry observers say.

During this holiday season, residents on the hunt for stocking stuffers and gifts for pets, have been raiding the shelves for dog treats and toys at Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Craig, assistant manager Andy Keith said.

“A lot of times, people purchase treats. That’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s something people are doing.”

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or at

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