At this time of year, people are obliged to shop and spend lots of money to buy each other gifts. Occasionally, some of them even get something they actually want. If rampant consumerism is not your style, I commend you! On the other hoof, if you feel compelled to get your loved one a pet this holiday season, I have some advice for you.

There are hundreds of imprisoned animals at the Franklin County Humane Society and the Animal Shelter in Columbus. They live in cages, get little love or exercise and have nothing to look forward to but a trip to the gas chamber – if no one chooses them for a pet. I’m sure most of them are healthy, but some may be a bit ragged around the edges and are the least likely picked for a new home.

My own stepbrother, Winston, was well on his way to the Humane Society (its gas chamber, no doubt) after his family split up and his owner chose to give him away. Granted, I didn’t like the thought of sharing my crib and my ‘rents with him, but my parents were kind enough to take him in and give him a chance at a good life. He’s a goofy little guy, not nearly as refined as me, and much fatter too. But he’s not heavy, you know, he’s my brother.

There’s another alternative to the animal shelters. That is, animal rescue organizations. I found out about these when my mommy’s friend at work got a basset hound from the local basset rescue. Those basset guys are a lot like me – squat, short legs, some with big bellies. Much longer ears, though. Anyway, these are animals in need of good homes and some of them need special tender loving care because, after all, they needed to be RESCUED, didn’t they? The Basset Rescue organization has a website and you can check out photos and descriptions of the dogs available, go to visit them, and pick one you like. It’s cheap, too. You probably won’t find any puppies, these may be old dogs, but what’s the spirit of the season all about? Getting gifts? Or giving gifts and giving hope to an old creature who may have been close to giving up?

Here are some of the dog rescue groups in the state:

¨ Ohio Basset Rescue –,

¨ Schnauzer Friends for Rescue and Adoption – SFRAhomepage.html,

¨ Purebred Rescue Organization of Ohio --

¨ Ohio Greyhound Placement, Inc. -- Hills/7235/,

¨ Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue --,

¨ Golden Retrievers in Need -,

¨ Hand Me Down Dobes --, and ¨ Buckeye Border Collie Rescue -- sites.htm.

More organizations can be found at: ¨ (though some of the information is old) ¨ sites.htm -- local and national information ¨ resources/rescuegrps.htm ¨ rescue.html.

The Highland Animal Sanctuary has both rescued dogs and cats — and there’s always Cat Welfare with many lovable kitties at 741 Wetmore Road, Columbus, OH 43214, (614)268-6096. There’s a ferret rescue, exotic animal rescue, bird rescue and adoption, llama rescue and a “hooved” animal rescue place (thank you!). It’s not hard to find them on an internet search.

Lastly, if giving a present to your pet is on your shopping list, there’s a really cool place in Columbus called “Urban Axis” that has healthy (and delicious!) pet treats, pet toiletries and pet gifts. It’s in German Village at 195 Thurman Avenue. (They have human-oriented items for sale too).

Happy Hoggy-days!

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