How Much Is That Puppy In The Window?
You're sitting there with a furrowed brow, scratching your head and thinking "What am I going to give him/her for Christmas this year????" Then it hits you, "I know! I will get him/her a puppy/kitten/bunny/other cute furry friend! This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"
Is it a good idea to give pets as Christmas gifts? Well...it might just make your child think you're the best parent ever. Or it may make your romantic interest think you are the most amazing person ever. But that feeling of elation can quickly turn to feelings of frustration or tension once reality kicks in. That cute little puppy needs to be let out on a cold winter's night to go pee and be walked. That kitten may decide your loved one's curtains make for a great climbing apparatus. And, wow does that litter box stink after a few days of being neglected!
There are many things to take into consideration when buying a pet for anyone (including yourself):
1. Are they ready for a pet? They may have said to you at one point or another "I would love to have a puppy in my life". But ask yourself why they haven't got one for themselves yet. Maybe they work long hours and won't be home enough to take care of the pup. Or maybe they are in the midst of a chaotic home life and the timing isn't right for a new pet. Or maybe they've seen the reality of caring for a pet and know that it's not really a lifestyle they are willing to take on just yet
2. If it's for a child, are they old enough to understand and respect the responsibility of a pet? Many kids love the furry cuddly aspects of having a pet to play with, and the excitement on their faces on Christmas morning will probably never be repeated, but do they understand...I mean REALLY understand...the responsibilities that come with having a pet? Will they walk the dog? Can they even handle walking the dog when the dog is older? Will they feed and clean up after them? Will they spend time with them after the novelty has worn off? If you're the child's parent, are YOU ready to take on that responsibility if the child isn't? If you're not the child's parent you had better discuss this in great length with the parents to ensure they are on board as well.
3. Shop or Adopt? ADOPT! There are so many great animals sitting in shelters waiting for someone to come and love them forever. Our CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) was a rescue from Ohio. He is the sweetest, most loving dog and he was in danger of being euthanized because he was in a high-kill shelter. If you're going to get a dog, cat, or any other animal, check your local shelters or go online to a site like petfinder.com and you'll be amazed at all the perfect little pets for you. And NEVER EVER EVER buy a dog from a pet store that buys from puppy mills (in fact don't buy anything from pet stores that buy dogs from puppy mills). Also be very wary of ads posted on Craig's List or kijiji. They are often posted by unscrupulous puppy mill owners.
4. Is Christmas the right time to give someone a pet? There's so much going on at Christmas. All the hustle and bustle, the lights, the tree, the parties...it can be a very unsettling experience for a new addition to the family who doesn't understand this is only a once a year event. Perhaps buying someone a book on pets or pet ownership might be a better way to go. Give them the opportunity to research it in greater detail and get all the info they need before making that decision for themselves.
Bottom line, buying a dog or other pet for anyone at Christmas is usually not an ideal situation for the recipient and the animal. It may look good in theory but reality is not always as close to theory as we'd like.