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Photography by Amberly McAteer/The Globe and Mail

River

When two-month-old, softer-than-soft River bounces into the room, our hearts melt. But when she gets into her pajamas, (petsmart.ca, $16.99) we all turn to puddles. This very good girl already knows to sit and wait for her treat and will likely be scooped up quickly by a lucky human. The mixed breed’s new owners would benefit from Embark’s Breed & Health Kit (US$199), which will reveal her exact genetic make up – and most importantly, any health conditions she’s predisposed to develop as she ages. With those eyes, how could you say no?


Lunette

Surrendered by her owner when she was 10 years old, this vivacious girl is ready for her forever home. No body shaming here, Lunette, but this lovable feline is a little on the heavy side. Her new owner should be dedicated to getting her in the best shape of her life. In her exercise down time, what better to do than read A History of Art in 21 Cats, (amazon.ca, $19.79) a fascinating exploration of art, from cubism to ancient Egyptian works, through the lens of cats; it’s the perfect gift for fans of either.


Miss Kitty

I wasn’t sure how a rescue cat would feel about exploring a cardboard gingerbread house (petsmart.ca, $24.99) while surrounded by strangers. Turns out, for Miss Kitty, the answer is very good. This 12-year-old gorgeous kitten at heart immediately started modelling, chin scratching at one door, while her tail effortlessly wagged out the other. She’s the model your home needs this holiday.

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Rogers

The cat cave (amazon.ca, $79.30), made in Nepal, is wildly popular among cat bloggers – but looking at it, I didn’t see the appeal. It’s a felt ball. That is, until Rogers entered the room, hopped right in and refused to leave. When his photo shoot was over, he had to be transported back to his kennel while still in the cave. He lives in the cat cave now – and he deserves the luxury: The two-year-old happy, meowing boy has two medical conditions that affect his immune system, but fear not. Rogers has been diagnosed as “regressive,” and can live a perfectly happy and healthy life.


Grover

What’s cuter than a kitten in a pet tent? A wobbly kitten in a pet tent. At just two months old, Grover lives with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia (which some kittens actually outgrow), meaning he’s a bit off balance and has a wobbly demeanor. The locally-made play tent (Woof Concept, $99.99) is the most fashionable pet bed I’ve seen in a while – with a plush, washable cushion, it’s great for cats and small dogs alike. And Vancouver-based Woof Concept gives a proceed of every tent sold to local and international rescue organizations. What’s better than that?


Thumper & Toussi

The Christmas spirit isn’t just for cats and dogs – as these 10-month-old guinea pigs prove in their festive sweater and Santa hat (petsmart.ca, $7.99, $6.99). They are a bonded pair (that’s rescue-speak for best friends) so will need a home together. They have been patiently waiting at the humane society since October, and are quite ready to come home for the holidays.


Beth

Beautiful Beth doesn’t understand why I covered up her colours with the Canada Pooch Slush Suit (Canada Pooch, $57) but any owner walking a fluffy dog in a soggy Toronto winter would know. This isn’t the prettiest dog coat – but it is arguably the most practical one ever made. Beth is certainly ready for a good walk with her human – at just one year old, Beth is a social, smart sweetheart with puppy energy. Through no fault of her own, she was recently returned from an adopted home after just a few days, and now she’s really ready for her person.


Fanny

What a breath of fresh air Fanny is. She’ll put a smile on your face the moment you meet, guaranteed. At just four years old, this little girl has certainly had her fair share of diagnoses: urinary tract infections, proteinuria, whipworm, Lyme disease, the list goes on. But none of this seems to affect her one bit: She’s got a pep in her step and can’t wait for your affection. Some shelters would euthanize Fanny because of her ailments – but the Toronto Humane Society (THS) is committed to finding her the best home, for the rest of her life. Because of her health concerns, the THS will cover all food and medical costs – she’s technically listed as a palliative foster, which just means she needs a loving, dedicated home, and the THS will cover all the bills. She’s rocking the Canada Pooch shiny puffer vest ($48) and fleece-lined wellies ($24).


Barbara & Clyde

What a pair and what a story. These two were found living inside of a small store in Mexico, but in their rough life on the streets, they found solace in one another. The bonded pair was transferred to the THS in November and are ready to begin a brand new life. They’re very active – and equally as sweet. I couldn’t think of two better dogs to model (Definitely) the Best Dogs of All Time, $26.95, a wonderful read from Toronto’s Drake General Store, which tells the stories of dogs who have changed the course of history. No doubt Barbara and Clyde will do the same. (For all the crazy dog people in your life, the Drake has many options, including the made-for-Boxing-Day memory card game Do You Look Like Your Dog?, $23.99.


Xena

Xena stole my heart: those eyes, and those ears. I wanted to cuddle her relentlessly, and she would have let me. We had an immediate trust – which has historically been an issue for this sweet gal. She’s a loyal and loving dog who loves adventure and thrives with exercise. Xena – who looks 2020-ready in the prism collar and leash from Woof Concept ($19.99 and $28.99) should go to an experienced human who is ready to put in the work for her; she’s worth it. She wants to be by your side at all times – but if you can’t be home, the Furbo (Amazon.ca, $299) is the pet-cam for you. It tosses treats with the click of your smartphone, has Wi-Fi and two-way audio, and is the hottest dog gift of 2019.

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Jenna

The Globe’s photo shoot at the THS is the highlight of my year, and this picture sums up why. I get to hang out (and receive endless kisses from) dogs who have been truly transformed – such as sweet Jenna, who was never given direction or structure as a pup and was returned to the THS twice by people unable to put in the work she needs. But perhaps equally uplifting is spending time with staff and volunteers who are so dedicated to these animals’ rehabilitation, such as trainer Kassie Dickson, who has spent countless hours working with Jenna with patience and skill. Their bond is undeniable, and just being around these two is good for the soul. The duo was the perfect pair to model the made-in-Canada, matching human-canine onesies from Toronto-based Snug as a Bug. ($79.95, $24.95)

Soft and cozy, they’ll match the warm and fuzzies you get from opening your home to an animal in need. If you’re ready for a new addition, visit the Toronto Humane Society. (Outside the GTA? Visit petfinder.ca for a nation-wide database.)

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