I wish that this had arrived earlier, because the In the Doghouse Puppy Dog Collection ($89.98) from Magic Cabin Toys is the perfect big gift for the preschool aged child who isn't quite ready for the responsibility of a real pet.
The set includes one snuggly puppy dog made in Latvia by Kathe Kruse, a wooden doghouse made in the USA by Little Colorado, and puppy dog accessories - a cotton velour dog bed, two wooden dog bones, a wooden water dish and a red leather collar with a detachable leash.
Arielle named her puppy Chocolate Tapdancey Licky-Barky. Chocolate is made out of cotton with wood stuffing and has weighted ("tappy") paws filled with quartz sand. Hence, Chocolate's love of tap-dancing. The set is also available with a white puppy with a brown spot over the eye. And, the puppy dog or accessories (if a child already has a special dog) are also available separately.
What surprised me was the size of the set. I didn't read the dimensions, so I was thinking tiny. But Chocolate is just the right size for cuddling and the dog house is 11"x11"x13", so it will need it's own special spot. But, this contributes to the feeling of a real pet.
Chocolate has been Arielle's best friend for the past week, and has attended "show and tell" at preschool where he was much admired, even amid toys with blinking lights and TV characters. She has been giving Chocolate dog food (wooden acorns) and a bone for a treat. She makes sure Chocolate has water and takes him for walks.
When I asked Arielle what she thought the very best toy that we had tried this year was, she immediately said "Chocolate". Linnea, of course, is totally jealous so we tied a ribbon around an old stuffed dog, so she could play as well. Her dog is called "Doggy".
The Puppy Dog Collection is a Magic Cabin exclusive, and I wanted to say a few words about Magic Cabin. Before internet shopping, when my big kids (now 16 and 19) were little, it was much harder to find high quality, natural toys. But, Magic Cabin filled that void. I was a single mom then, and I worked through my vacations so I could buy my kids the "good" toys. They still treasure their Waldorf dolls, and there are some Magic Cabin toys have been handed down to Linnea and Arielle. I get a little nostalgic when the catalog arrives.