If you or someone you know is a knitter you may want to consider a homemade gift for your furry friend(s). There are many patterns available on the Internet, often at no cost, and the possibilities are endless. One good source is:

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns but many others exist for anyone interested in charitable projects (both knit and crochet).

Felines are particularly fond of catnip toys. Knitted mice or balls can be stuffed with cotton batting and fresh catnip. Feathers on knitted leads attached to a wooden dowel work well to encourage exercise and interaction with cats and kittens.

Blankets are easily stitched and can use up odds and ends from the knitter's stash. Colors can be coordinated with household décor or simply use a hodgepodge of available yarns. In addition to toys and blankets, many small and mid-sized canines might benefit from coats and booties. Even larger dogs might wear coats in winter.

For the pet owner you can find afghan patterns for car robes and throws to protect upholstery and furniture from damage such as tears and also from pet hair. Perhaps even a pillow would appeal to the pet parent in your life.

There are endless possibilities for the creative crafter. Besides personal creations for the pet and pet lover, one might consider making blankets for the local animal shelter (taking care to use washable materials -- and it is advisable to check with the organization in advance to determine its needs). Snuggling in a hand-made blanket can be particularly comforting to a homeless animal. It would be so nice to send each canine and feline to a loving forever home with its own special belonging this year.

As you can see, there are many alternatives available to show that you CARE for an animal, particularly at this giving time of year.

Pat Jauch is secretary of Caledonia Animal Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 4054, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; www.caledoniaanimalrescue.com.

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