Canine mansions, mummified pets and pachyderm poop

Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 12/17/17

EDITOR'S NOTE: To most people, our pets are full-fledged members of the family, and as such, they're likely to find special gifts under the tree, just like their human counterparts. Tinseltown Talks columnist Nick Thomas has "some unusual gift ideas …

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Canine mansions, mummified pets and pachyderm poop


EDITOR'S NOTE: To most people, our pets are full-fledged members of the family, and as such, they're likely to find special gifts under the tree, just like their human counterparts. Tinseltown Talks columnist Nick Thomas has "some unusual gift ideas for that special family pooch that will surely raise a tail wag." He hasn't forgotten the family feline either.

Lord of the Manor: Honestly, sometimes it's good to be sent to the dog house. Doowaggle sells mini canine mansions that will set you back thousands, but your dog really will feel like a Prince. They are the ultimate in decadent doggie domiciles. You may even want to ask the company to construct one with a mother-in-law plan and move in yourself. For the pampered pooch, life will never be "ruff!" again. (

Nail Pawlish: While he's lying around all day in his new digs, your designer dog will want to look the part with nail polish for pooches. With bold, bright colors you could rename as Fire Hydrant Red, Doghouse Blues or Carpet Stain Yellow, it's the perfect pet-i-cure for around $10 a bottle. Available from Posh Puppy Boutique (

PupLight: Don't think your dog is bright enough? Emerging from his canine castle for an evening walk, your dog can be a shining example in the neighborhood with PupLight. This LED light attaches to the collar and the powerful beam illuminates your pooch's path for some 200 feet. Now each day - and night, too - you really will see Spot run, for around $25. Available from

Zoo Doo: Having spent a fortune on your doggie's mansion, you will want to plant a nice garden outside for Fido to explore. Since there's nothing like fresh fertilizer to make those dogwoods bloom, how about a canine Christmas stocking ripe with manure? But this is no ordinary waste. Some zoos are now recycling and selling their pachyderm poop. At the Seattle zoo, the cost is about $20 for a 2-gallon bucket. The manure is actually a blend of waste from several herbivores, including elephants and hippos, and has proven very popular. Hey, we're talking big business here! Available from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle - sorry, no delivery, just carry outs. Get the scoop at

Pachyderm Painting: Decorating the walls of that canine mansion with animal-themed art is a breeze with an elephant painting. No, it's not a painting of an elephant; it's a painting by an elephant! "Lucky" the elephant is mammothly talented. From her zoo studio in Colorado Springs, Lucky can clasp a brush in her trunk and create some wild abstract art on canvas. For as little as $39 you will receive an 8-by-10-inch original painting ($99 for the jumbo 16-by-20), which are peanuts for art from this great African master. Available from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (

Mummified Pets: When the time comes for your beloved pet to move to that dog house in the sky, a Salt Lake City company has the perfect solution if you don't want to be parted: pet mummification. But these guys are not your typical raccoon stuffing, backyard taxidermists. Using a secret mummification technique that even King Tut would be proud of, pets will be wrapped in fine linens bathed with fragrant herbs, oils and resins, and placed within a bronze mummiform. Sure, the process is a little time consuming and rather pricy ($6,000 or more), but Rover will be eternally grateful. Available from Summum (

Diamond in the Ruff: If storing your mummified pet on the bedroom dresser is a little too ghoulish for you, how about converting the cremated remains of Rover into a diamond? A Chicago company came up with the sparkling concept to convert pet ashes into pure carbon which is then subjected to 3,000-degree heat and 1 million psi pressure to form a diamond. It can then be cut and mounted into a ring or pendant. The process, in fact, has been used for half a century to produce synthetic diamonds, but trust a group of young entrepreneurs to come up with this gem of an idea. You will need some patience, however, because the transformation takes nine months. And the cost for this service? A 1-carat stone will set you back around a cool $20,000. Available from Life Gem (

Puss off: No self-respecting doggie mansion resident would let a cat take up residence in his new digs. Ssscat is designed to keep wandering cats from such off-limit areas. The electronic gadget detects the approaching curious kitty, and a motion sensor activates a noisy alarm, guaranteed to scare the fur off any territorial invader by directing a blast of compressed air toward the inquisitive animal. It's harmless but will surely pssssssssst the cat off. Available from

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, and has written features, columns and interviews for more than 650 newspapers and magazines. See