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Chef prepares holiday meals for pets

Bonnie Emmerich, the Hampton Pet chef, will be

Bonnie Emmerich, the Hampton Pet chef, will be making special Christmas dinners for dogs that people order. (Dec. 23, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

'Tis the busy season for the Hamptons pet chef.

Bonnie Emmerich, who sometimes caters for humans, too, has prepared about 40 special holiday meals for dogs.

"People consider their pets as companions and family members," said Emmerich, of Hampton Bays.

A survey last year by the American Pet Products Association, a nonprofit trade group in Greenwich, Conn., found that 53 percent of dogs and 38 percent of cats receive Christmas presents. On average, pet owners spent $12 on gifts for their dog and $9 for cats.

Grace Yang's 5-year-old shih tzu, Sophie, is among those getting a $7 meatloaf mixed with cranberries and sweet potato. Yang, 42, of Amagansett, said her dog seemed to enjoy the meatloaf she ordered from Emmerich for Thanksgiving. "I just want her to enjoy the holidays, too," she said. "She's definitely part of the family."

"The other crazy thing we did was we had a small gathering for Sophie's birthday. Bonnie made this chicken satay that people and the dogs could eat. I guess I am the crazy dog lady," she said.

Al Selmer, owner of Selmer's Pet Land in South Huntington, said the big trend this year are treats shaped like elk horns. "They're tasty and dogs can chew them a long time."

Beth Goldin, who is converting The Whimsical Pet Company in Huntington into an online-only business, said pet owners "will buy anything, from treats to toys. They'll buy antlers like reindeers, little red noses to make [their dogs and cats] look like Rudolph."

Asked what was the most unusual thing she'd seen, Goldin said: "People dressed up their pets like the three wise men for a holiday picture."

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