Downeast Dog News

‘Tis the Season

By Susan Spisak | Nov 30, 2020

Don’t let the holiday season overwhelm you. If you have canine-loving friends and family members on your list, gear gifting towards that passion can’t go wrong. Visit Maine’s fabulous pet retailers and their online websites to find presents sure to please. But before you make your final list and check it twice, here are a few suggestions and traditions from merchants to inspire.

Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA, President and Co-Owner of Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor with his wife, Paula Hanson, says some of his popular choices are toys. “We have everything from chewables to soft squeaky toys. In the latter category, a toy that has stood the test of time is the Hedgehog.” (They grunt and come in various sizes.)

Smoked bones that they sell are a hit and have a benefit for owners. “They keep the dogs occupied while you're cooking, eating, and even through opening gifts unless you're like my friend's dog, Lizzie, who loves to help open every single gift.” Gift cards are nice, especially if relatives need accessories for their new pets. He adds, “Over the years, many clients have purchased training specific gift cards as a way of offering a subtle hint to family members to work on the relationship with their dogs.” He also carries A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! by Niki Tudge – he believes it is an important tool for all canine owners whether they have kids or not.

The Hanson pets look forward to the season. “Both Muppy (a 9-year-old Cocker Spaniel/Terrier mix) and Boomer (a domestic shorthair cat) are working on their list for Santa Paws…Muppy's all about a nicely written letter with a promise of cookies for Santa, and Boomer's more into emailing the Jolly Elf. Typically, Boomer ends up with some yummy treats and toys, some filled with catnip. Muppy's also big on toys, chewables, and treats. She just had to replace a collar, so I suspect that will be on this year's list as well. She does like to be fashionable.” Visit

If you are shopping on a budget or looking for “fill in” gifts, Chris Parker, owner of the Pet Pantry in Freeport, recommends theme masks, dog breed socks, and hand towels. If the dog buff on your list avidly jogs with a dog buddy, Parker says reflective orange vests or lighted collars and leads would be welcomed. When you visit his multi-level supply and gift store, check out their bakery goods, too. There’s curbside loading (call ahead with your order at 207-865-6484) and area delivery. For hours and info,

Don Kingsbury, co-owner of Two Salty Dogs Pet Outfitters in Boothbay Harbor with wife Liana Kingsbury, sells plenty of “Made in Maine” collars. He has a large assortment – you can find one to suit the pickiest person on your list. For the canine-loving chef, consider a solid cherry cutting board (Lab, Golden, Bichon Frise, and Beagle motif). Another popular item is their 16-month Boothbay Harbor Dogs Calendar. “We usually sell out by January 1st, but this year we ordered 100 over what we did last year.” And check out their handwoven lobster line red and blue rope baskets that are good for dog toys or general storage. Kingsbury adds, “Check back if you are bent on other color combinations or want to chat.”

Want a popular stocking stuffer for your own four-legged? “We've been selling a ton of our Brew Bites. It's the most local product we offer.” (Don't worry, these treats that come in three sizes won't get your dog tipsy.) There’s Salty Biscuit treats that come in three flavors and are tested and approved by the Kingsbury’s Auggie, Buddy, Teddy, and Max. For more, To read the Kingsbury dog’s often funny, always thoughtful blogs, (My recent favorite is Max’s Day of the Dogs - Volume I about the foursome’s planned fridge heist of a spiral ham.)

Rockland-based Loyal Biscuit Co. are family-owned pet supply boutiques with seven locations. While they carry a large variety of food, treats, and supplies, co-owner (with her husband Joel Neal) Heidi Vanorse Neal has many gift ideas, but one stands out. “I think this year, it is our Gobble Good Box and the Howliday Biscuit Box for Christmas. They are premade healthy meal kits for the holidays.” They’re available online for in-store pick up. “They make a great, quick, easy gift for dog and cat owners.” She also favors two lines with holiday-themed products – Bocce's flavored treats like their Santa S’mores and Huggle Hounds toys, “They are so cute.” (Find at

New this year is their Super Saving Stocking fundraiser benefitting local area humane societies. “With a $5 donation (through this link only,, [purchasers] will receive a Loyal Biscuit Company stocking. Pre-orders in November with in-store pick up in December.” (If they’re not sold out, you may still be able to purchase.) When you pick up the stocking, you’ll receive 20% off all items you can stuff into it.

The Neal animals are spoiled during this season. “They all get presents of toys and treats, and then the two Pugs get matching Christmas pajamas.” Sometimes they even dress similarly to their parents. “Yes, we are those people,” she admits.

If there are the difficult-to-buy for but no-nonsense rescue advocates on your list, donate to a local animal non-profit in their names. Some shelters have important funds for urgent and specialty veterinary care such as Midcoast Humane’s Columbo Fund. (It is named after rescued pup, Columbo, and was initiated by his mom, Andrea Shaw, to give back.) Note the gesture in a card along with a breed or hobby inspired cap or coffee mug and call it a day. You may feel like you didn’t search for the right gift, but helping an area nonprofit may make it one of their favorites.

Debra Bell, owner of Bell's Furry Friends Photography and Bell Imaging & Design LLC sees festive and creative holiday canine attire up close. “I just wrapped up two weekends of holiday pet portraits – my annual fund-raiser for the Furry Friends Food Bank. Most folks bring their pets in bandanas or with a fancy collar, but some brought full, color coordinated outfits. They were absolutely adorable.”

Because she’s accepting private appointments and following CDC and state guidelines, with all “safe” protocols implemented, she says her gift cards are a great idea for pet owners or the shoot could be scheduled for springtime, with green grass and flowers as the backdrop.

Other great presents that she can help with (that include your personal images) are glass or aluminum ornaments, wall art, aluminum keychains, calendars, and albums. (If you’re submitting pics from another professional photographer, please have a license in hand granting reproduction rights.) visit

Bell adds this thought on your shopping efforts: “It's so important to buy from local businesses this holiday season. Your local artists, pet stores, and boutiques need support, and want to help you find the most meaningful gift for the people on your holiday list.”