December 13, 2012 | By: Laurie Campbell

A $63 holiday gift for Fido? Someone's barking up the wrong tree.

Something unusual caught my eye as I was mulling over a recent survey about how Canadians are managing their money this holiday season. The survey reported that one in four Canadians will on average devote $63 to a gift for their pet this Christmas. That’s right dear readers, millions of us in Canada plan to put tens of millions towards presents under the tree marked for Fido the dog, Fritz the cat, and I suppose Polly the parakeet, Gilda the guinea pig, and Goldie the gold fish – among many other domesticated species.

Actually, this development was practically a footnote in the survey, which otherwise highlighted more pressing news that two-thirds of Canadians are setting a holiday budget this year. That’s very good news - and even cause for celebration – among all of us here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. We’re vocal advocates of responsible budgeting for the holidays since it’s a tried and true way to avoid problems associated with the kind of debt and overspending that makes for those January credit card blues. Still, while I was happy to read about the positive budgeting trend among humans, the bit about pets stuck in my craw.

Frankly in my view, Fido hardly needs a $63 gift. I guarantee he will continue to love you dearly even if you only throw him a few bones and take him for his daily walks over the holidays. Meanwhile, Fritz, Polly, Gilda, Goldie and all the other animals on Santa’s gift list this year can do without the $63 in spending, too. Honestly, what do pet owners have in mind for these creatures?

Let’s stick with Fido for a moment. What at a cost of $63 is in store for him under the tree or in his very own Santa sock? A new dog collar? That’s no gift, it’s cost of entry for anyone who owns a dog. In fact, any master who makes a collar a gift to his dog is the kind of man who makes a vacuum cleaner a gift to his wife. It’s a dorky thing to give. Of course, if it’s a silver-plated dog collar that Fido receives, that’s another story. It’s no longer a poorly thought out gift, it’s now merely an exercise in abject human vanity and self-aggrandizement since anyone will tell you Fido doesn’t give a hoot for silver or any other precious metal. In fact, all ornaments and jewellery leave him as cold as his nose. He likes food, gnawable stuff, fire hydrants, running - maybe swimming depending on his breed – and of course bitches. Lots and lots of bitches.

Want to make Fido deliriously happy Christmas day? Take steps now to spend a fraction of that $63 – or maybe nothing at all - on a bag full of butcher’s bones. As I say, Fido will be in doggie heaven well into the New year. And If you feel you must splurge on him, then maybe get him a new frizbee, but spend no more than four bucks for it.

As to Fritz and the rest of the household fauna, heaven knows what kind of $63 gifts they’ll receive. More human vanity items in all likelihood – or lavish toys, baubles and sparkly, rubbery thingamabobs that squeak or squack and roll about the floor or fly through the air until they break within 15 to 20 minutes. Trust me, just get Fritz a high for the holidays. All it takes is a bag full of catnip costing you maybe a fiver. For any cat, nip is just purrrfect for the Yuletide.

Meanwhile, regarding an affordable gift for Gilda, Internet sources tell me guinea pigs like wee hidey houses made out of cardboard boxes and toilet rolls stuffed with straw and bits of parsley. Cheap! And one less item that might lead to a violent tug-of-war contest between you and another customer at the pet shop as you fight over the last remaining rhinestone-laden guinea pig collar on sale for $62.99.

Now to Polly. She’s an easy one to strike off the gift list, unless of course you intend to buy her voice lessons to the tune of $63 (how many words that encompasses I’ve no idea). I contend there’s no need to spend a cent on your feathered friend. Give instead the cost-free gift of whistling in Polly’s vicinity every now and then. She’ll adore you for it (parakeets are pushovers for whistling, especially if it resembles the folksy tune that used to introduce that old TV hit, The Andy Griffith Show, from the 1960s).

Then there’s Goldie the goldfish. What might she enjoy at a cost of $63? I haven’t got a clue. Maybe just settle on a tiny, plastic, submersible cave or castle that you can tuck away in the corner of her tank. You can probably purchase either item at your local dollar store for, well, a dollar. No telling how much happiness the new underwater den will give Goldie. Personally, I’ve never seen a goldfish smile or swim up and down in glee. I suppose you just have to watch for how much use Goldie gives the new underwater quarters.

Now, I don’t think I’ll go on about outlandish or affordable gift options for other types of pets, especially problematic ones like gerbils, ferrets, turtles, snakes, piglets, goats and what have you. Suffice to say, none of them ought to receive $63 gifts for Christmas. Indeed, I think that if millions of Canadians want to spend tens of millions on something really warm and fuzzy this holiday season, they ought to consider contributing to a children’s charity.

Believe me, your pets won’t care, but the kids sure will.


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