I love my dog, Haze. My fiancee and I rescued him in late 2020, and we were both immediately enamored.

Almost as immediately, we began thinking about the ways we could make sure Haze had a healthy and fulfilling life — which meant buying toys and looking for experiences we could do with him. It also meant people started thinking about different gifts to bring to us, because we had become so obsessed with our four-legged son.

Haze, a rescue dog, sitting on a couch and reclining with a pillow. Haze is a mostly black dog with white coloring and pointy ears that are flopped back.
Haze, a rescue dog, sitting on a couch and reclining with a pillow. (Cody Boteler)

I’d bet anyone reading this has at least one person in their life that got a dog or cat during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re looking for a great gift for that person (or, no judgement, for yourself), look no further.

Bark social
(Courtesy photo)

Bark Social membership

Bark Social is a (relatively) new members-only club for dogs. There’s a location in Canton, and one in Bethesda, if your pet-loving gift recipient lives that way. You pay a membership — or buy a pass — to enter the property with your dog, where they’re then free to run and play with other dogs on the property.

It’s also a restaurant, bar and coffee shop, so you can grab a drink or a meal while letting your dog play. And yes, there’s a menu for dogs, too.

You can’t technically buy a membership for someone, but you can buy a gift card that covers the cost of membership. Membership is $364.99 for the year.

Happy Dog Boutique
(Courtesy photo)

Health and wellness from Happy Dog Boutique

Happy Dog Boutique in Fells Point is a retail store meets spa meets wellness clinic for dogs. They sell some toys and treats, and even some dog-sized sweaters to keep your four-legged friend warm in the winter. But their big focus is on dog health and wellness. You can pick up a paw-soothing ointment ($18.99), an all-natural bottle of salmon oil ($25.99) or an oatmeal-based shampoo for dogs with sensitive skin ($18.99)

Also of note are the services they offer, from dog walking and training to animal acupuncture.

Cat clean up products at Howl
(Cody Boteler/The Baltimore Banner)

Kitty clean-up from Howl

Howl, in Hampden, is one of my favorite stores for pet shopping. It’s a local business, and while they don’t ship, they will deliver if you’re nearby. In addition to toys, treats and a truly large selection of food for dogs, cats, birds and other animals, Howl has a robust selection of those necessary but pesky supplies — like cleaners.

Two in particular stood out to me, especially useful for the renter in Baltimore whose cat might have had an accident on the carpet. There’s Skout’s Honor urine & odor destroyer ($15.49) and Wee Away green tea scented odor & stain remover ($14.99). Both are cat-friendly, and Howl says on its website that they wouldn’t sell anything in the store that they would not personally use at home.

While I’m not a cat owner, I can tell you I’d be absolutely thrilled if someone bought me cleaning supplies (or other utility items, really) for my dog — it’s the least exciting part of owning a pet, and sometimes utility is really the best present.

Loyal Companion
(Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Gift card to Loyal Companion

I know, I know, two gift cards on one gift guide? Lame, right? But the one for Bark Social doesn’t really count. That’s more about buying an experience for a pet lover.

This, though, is a recommendation for a gift card to Loyal Companion, a semi-local chain with locations in Baltimore, Pikesville, Catonsville, Clarksburg, Columbia, Annapolis and points beyond. The pet owners in your life will be able to choose what they need — or want — most. Practicality is sometimes the best gift. Pick up a gift card in any of their store locations or on their website.

Sea Dog Pet Boutique
(Courtesy photo)

A baked treat from Sea Dog Pet Boutique

In Annapolis, Sea Dog Pet Boutique will sell you anything from a leash and collar to a brand new toy. But my personal recommendation is that you take a look at the treats they have on offer, especially from local sources.

Right now, the shop is carrying four flavors of treats from Sweet Piggy Baking Company, available in-store for $12. The treats are made in Maryland, too — Sweet Piggy is based in Millersville, also in Anne Arundel County.

Haze, a rescue dog from BARCS
(Courtesy photo)
A dog from BARCS
(Courtesy photo)

Make a donation in their honor

If your pet-loving friend already has all they need, why not make a donation in their honor? There are quite a few organizations in Baltimore and around the region that work to house and take care of animals.

Here are a few local organizations to consider:

Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Center: BARCS operates Maryland’s largest animal shelter and pet adoption center in Cherry Hill. They’re open admission, which means no animal is turned away. I am biased — we got our dog at BARCS — but they’re truly a great shelter and provide services for adopted animals, too.

Maryland SPCA: Operating out of Hampden, the Maryland SPCA gets dogs into adopted homes and provides resources for owners every year. They also provide spay and neuter services for free for low-income pet owners and other veterinary services.

Baltimore Humane Society: Founded as the Humane Society of Baltimore County nearly 100 years ago, the Baltimore Humane Society has subsidized veterinary care, adoptable animals and a memorial park that provides a resting place for beloved furry friends. The nonprofit also has more than 300 acres of land that it preserves to protect wildlife.

Small Miracles Cat & Dog Rescue: In Ellicott City, Small Miracles is a no-kill shelter that’s housed more than 12,000 cats and 7,000 dogs since it opened in 2006. They especially advocate for the rescue of abused, abandoned and homeless cats and dogs.