New products for pet lovers
Every recent survey says so: People regard their pets as members of the family -- as "fur children" rather than simply dumb animals. Animal behaviorists do say that the smartest dogs can reach the intelligence level of a 3-year-old child.
One of my dogs is smart enough to have trained me to turn on the water for him when he jumps in the bathtub and barks. A friend's cat opens drawers. If nothing else, the examples prove that some folks are amused by and extremely fond of their pets.
So it's especially nice to learn that marketers are recognizing the important role pets play in people's lives, and finding ways to make pets easier, or more fun, to live with. And they do it with a sense of humor. Here's a roundup of some of the newest items for pet lovers.
* The 15th Decorator Show House sponsored by Historic Ellicott City is Folly Farm, at 4308 Folly Quarter Road, just west of the Ellicott City historic district. The earliest parts of the house date to the mid-18th century, and are said to have been built for Emily Caton McTavish, granddaughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The house will be open through Oct. 17. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 410-461-6908.
* Got a table that needs the perfect accent? Check out the spare and elegant collection from clay artist Monica Broere, showing from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Elzeard Pottery, 602 S. Ann St., 410-732-2928.
Cathy Leaycraft, of Unseen Images of Baltimore, uses a camera and her computer to create custom pet portraits that incorporate landscapes and objects, producing unusual, provocative and weirdly charming collages. Pet owners can specify images, objects or photographs they would like to have incorporated in the final portrait -- the pet's favorite toy, for instance, or the owner's back yard.
Prices range from $48 to $142, depending on the complexity of the photography and the image. Leaycraft also offers other pet-photo products, such as magnets, note cards and business cards; prices for these range from $4.35 to $116. Leaycraft can be reached at 410-426-3449.
-- K. M.
Comfort -- and safety
What happened to horror author Stephen King was a nightmare: While walking along a road near his New England home, he was hit by a van. The accident broke his hip and caused other injuries. The van driver's excuse was that he was distracted because his dog was loose in the van.
Myrt Edwards, a "70-something" California grandmother, has a solution -- for the loose dog, not for King: the Comfort Ride Pet Seat, which allows pets up to 30 pounds to sit up or lie down in comfort, but doesn't allow them to move around. The plastic, cushioned seat is 6 inches high, and fits on front or back car seats. It's secured by the car's seat belt, and the pet is secured by its own seat belt. The pet seat belt allows for some movement, but keeps the pet in the seat. The seat costs between $50 and $60.
It's available from catalogs such as R.C. Steele, 800-872-3773; and Drs. Foster & Smith, 800-826-7206. It's also available through distributor Aquiline Innovations' Web site at www.goodpetstuff.com. For more information, call Aquiline Innovations, 916-991-2409.
-- K. M.
A canine Christmas
Avanti Press, which publishes greeting cards, has "unleashed" a new series of Christmas cards called "The 12 Dogs of Christmas," which humorously reflect the old poem about the partridge and the pear tree. The Avanti cards feature, among other things, eight Rottwei-lers ringing, two terriers toasting and a Pomeranian in a pear tree.
The cards cost $2.25 each, or $11.95 for 10 cards and 12 envelopes, at major retail gift and card shops. For stores nearest you, or for more information, call 800-228-2684.
-- K. M.
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Karol V. Menzie, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.