Who says Valentine's Day is only for humans? If you have a faithful, furry friend this is the perfect time to give him the love and appreciation he deserves. The following are a few Valentine pet projects to get you started.

Curly Catnip Toy

Items needed: empty toilet paper roll; colored tissue paper; tape; curling ribbon; scissors; catnip; dowel rod or long stick.

Cut an empty toilet paper roll in half so you have two cylinder shapes. Wrap one of the rolls with colored tissue paper, leaving an additional two inches of paper on each end. Secure the paper to the roll with tape. On one end gather the overlapping paper and tie curling ribbon around it to close it off. Sprinkle catnip through the open end into the roll. Gather the overlapping paper on this end and tie the curling ribbon around it to close it off. Attach a long strand of curling ribbon to one of the tied-off ends. Attach the other end of the curling ribbon strand to a dowel rod so it resembles a fishing rod. Repeat these steps to make another catnip toy for later. Dangle the catnip toy in front of your cat. Let him bat at it for a while until you are ready to give him his treat. Be sure to store the project in a zipper seal bag to maintain freshness.

Tail Waggin' Doggie Treats

Items needed: 2 cups whole wheat flour; 1 tablespoon baking powder; 1 cup natural peanut butter; 1 cup skim milk; two mixing bowls; measuring cups and spoons; mixing spoon; rolling pin; bone-shaped cookie cutter; greased cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour and baking powder in one bowl. Mix peanut butter and milk in other bowl. Combine the two mixtures and stir. Dough will become stiff. Place dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness with a rolling pin and cut it into bone shapes with cookie cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Turn off the oven and leave the biscuits in there to cool and harden.

Paw Print Treat Tub

Items needed: large empty coffee can; large piece of white paper; ink pad; two-liter bottle cap; newspaper; tape; small, plastic toy dog or cat; glue.

Measure and cut a piece of white paper to fit around the coffee can. Lay the white paper on top of the newspaper. Open the ink pad and lay it on the newspaper next to the paper. Press the flat end of the bottle cap onto the ink pad and then onto the paper to make a small circle about the size of a nickel. Set the bottle cap aside. Together press your index, middle and ring fingers onto the ink pad and then onto the paper just above the circle to complete your paw print shape. Repeat these steps until the paper is covered in paw prints. Wrap paw print paper around the can and secure with tape. To make the lid, glue a small plastic dog or cat to the can lid and let it dry. Fill the jar with treats for your favorite pet.


Pet-keeping Past and Present

Americans have been enjoying pets for hundreds of years. But how did they find their fit in the family? Beginning in the 1800s, an increasing number of Americans valued pets as companions and associated them with a happy family life, social status and leisure. This was also a time when people began to embrace the idea of kindness to animals. Prompted by popular writers, this movement encouraged families to let their children care for animals as a way to train youngsters to grow into kind and loving adults. Families took this advice seriously, and as a result, pet keeping became a part of the ideal American childhood.


Pet Classics

Want to read a few classic pet titles? Check out these Caldecott and Newberry Award winners.

  • "April's Kitten" by Clare Turlay Newberry

  • "Kitten's First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes

  • "The Stray Dog" by Marc Simont

  • "What Do you Do with a Tail Like This?" by Robin Page


Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children and four grandchildren.