In Bristol, Tennessee, Butterfinger the bunny hops placidly along the floor of the pet shop, oblivious to the fact that it’s nearly Christmas.
His person, thirteen-year-old Emily Maiden, knows it’s almost Christmas, though. And she’s ready for it: Butterfinger already has a present wrapped and under the tree with his name on it; and of course he’ll get a stocking full of chewy treats. “He’s only had one Christmas,” Emily explained shortly after the bunny was adopted.
Emily and her mom, Nancy Maiden, join the growing number of pet owners who plan to fill a stocking or wrap a gift for Fido or Fluffy. Last year, Butterfinger got a carrot toy.
The American Pet Products Association said this month that surveys of pet owners indicate 53% of dogs and 38% of cats will have presents under the tree come Christmas. The association also reported this month that spending on pets, including everything from food to grooming services, has been steadily increasing over the years, from $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $53 billion this year. Regarding Christmas, more owners than ever will be buying gifts for their pets this year, an estimated 20 million people spending at least $210 million.
Pet Partners co-owner, Richard Coffey, sees the trend firsthand, particularly during the very busy week before Christmas. He said people are stocking up on pet food, treats, and accessories for not only their pets, but for gifts as well. One outfit, resembling red long underwear and bearing the words “waiting for Santa,” has been especially popular this year. “We can’t keep those in stock,” he said.
Plus, people who are buying pets as gifts usually do so in the days before Christmas, he said. “We see that a lot of people buy pets in the last few days before Christmas,” Coffey said. “You can’t get them too early and they’re hard to hide.”
Another rabbit lover, Taylor Robertson, 16, picked out a black and white mini lop rabbit. “It’s got a whole cage of presents right there,” she said, pointing to a pile of the rabbit’s future home and toys stacked near the check-out counter.
The pets in our lives may not be aware of Christmas, or maybe they can be aware of it, through memories of Christmas Times from the past, but either way, Christmas is about bringing joy to the one’s we love, and if a new chewy bacon-flavored bone treat is going to that, well, let it be that.
Happy Bunday, and Merry Christmas Eve Eve ^-^