Pet 'wine'

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $60 billion on their pets in 2015. Although 2016 statistics are not in, it is expected last year’s expenditures will increase by about $2 billion.

The largest portion of these billions is spent on food. After food come expenditures for supplies, leashes, collars, toys and over-the-counter medicines, followed by veterinarian visits and other services for grooming, dog walking and dog sitting, followed by a significant amount for pet accoutrements like Halloween costumes and designer clothing.

Americans own more dogs than any other pet. Cats come in second, but no cat is ever going to believe that. I have owned a series of both, but by far my favorite pet ever is my current dog, Rex, BDE (Best Dog Ever).

I know this is a wine column, so stay with me, gentle readers. When I walk Rex, he is usually a perfect gentleman, unless he sees another dog, cat, bird or squirrel, whereupon he pulls on his leash so ferociously he chokes himself with his collar, thus causing paroxysms of coughing.

Obviously, the solution to this problem is a harness. I have tried to find the right one for precious boy, but most harnesses are cumbersome. While I have not bought the boy a Halloween costume, I have recently done my part in contributing to the billions spent on doggie accoutrement.

In my quest to find the perfect comfortable but easily attachable harness, I spotted a classic red one in a pet catalog that was touted as being sturdy, "easy to put on, adjust, and take off." I should have been forewarned because the item description included a link to an instructional video.

A few days ago, the handsome harness arrived. Made in Italy, it is a very stylish garment. It even has a small replica of the Italian flag stitched into one of the side emblems. I always was a sucker for Italian design.

Rex, the most compliant dog ever, does not hold the same high esteem for Italian design. It was challenging to determine how to attach said harness to said dog. The instructional video was viewed several times, but Rex, unlike the dogs in the video, was totally non-compliant, playing dead dog.

Wrestling the garment onto Rex, assisted by my significant other, proved to be daunting. Rex collapsed into a limp, furry mass with legs akimbo, refusing to remain in an upright position, which is essential to harness placement on a dog. Rex was the winner of all rounds of the wrestling match.

In the end, we were on the ropes, laughing too hard and too exhausted to persist. All were in need of a libation — but should dogs have wine? Well, yes and no.

No, because alcohol is toxic to pets, but yes if it is a wine made specifically for dogs.

If your pet is feeling left out when you settle down for your daily tipple, consider serving one of the following:

If in a particular celebratory mood, how about a bottle of Dog Pérignon from Pet Winery, or a bottle of Fetch Me Grigio or Fetch Me Noir? All should pair well with kibble.

Pet Winery is not the only game in town for pet wines. Apollo Peak, which bills itself as the original cat and dog wine producer, offers high altitude wines for dogs, manufactured at 5,675 feet in the Colorado foothills. Offerings include a ZinFanTail, CharDogNay and Malbark. Regrettably, I don’t have tasting notes for these wines, but the manufacturer says Apollo Peak wines contain ingredients like peppermint and chamomile for their calming effect and beet juice for color. Yum.

If cats are your forte, both companies make wines for cat happy hours. Pet Winery offers Purrgundy and Meow & Chandon CatNip Champagne, while Apollo offers a PinotMeow, Catbernet and Muscato.

Apollo even offers a crystal drinking bowl for cats for $12.95 on its website. I guess dogs could drink from this as well.

If not interested in having cocktails with your pet, come have cocktails with humans at a fundraising event for SAVE (Saving Animals Volunteer Effort). "Sudz For Our Furry Budz" will be held on April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Cheaha Brewing Company in Anniston, where pint glasses of craft beer will be provided for a $5 donation.

SAVE’s mission is to provide assistance to individuals and families in Calhoun County who could not otherwise afford to spay/neuter their pets.

Contact Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com.

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