Christmas Pets: What You Are Really Giving (or Getting)
While we are firmly in favor of dog ownership, and it's true the idea of a pet as a gift is rather adorable, there are a few hard truths we must all face about what you are really giving them:
- You're giving something they might be too polite to admit they didn't want. Pet ownership must be consensual. Just because you think it's cute doesn't mean they'll think so when it's pooping on their brand new carpet.
- You're giving something that might be the wrong fit. It has to be the right dog in the right home. Just because you think your loved one would love a certain dog does not mean that it actually will fit their routine.
- You're giving an entire new lifestyle, with a new set of boundaries and rules that your loved one may not realize they are signing up for like being home enough to feed and exercise, making sure to keep small things off the ground, making sure their children know how to behave around a dog, and more.
- You are giving 10 to 20 years of responsibility, including daily exercise, feeding, medical care, training, and more.
- You are giving something they might not be able to afford. Vet bills, the cost of boarding when they want to go on a trip, grooming bills, the cost of food, toys and anything else they'll need...the cost keeps going and going!
- You're giving them something they might abandon. January and February are always the months with the highest numbers of abandoned Christmas gifts, dumped at shelters or worse, on the side of the road. In this case, sadly statistics speak louder than a few success stories
- You are giving them a living creature. Pets are living things with physical and emotional needs; not objects, like toys, to be discarded when you're done playing with them.
If you are thinking of getting a Christmas Puppy that you saw in a shop window, this list applies to you too. In fact, statistics show that you'll be more likely to give up your Christmas-Spirit induced pet than the person who you got a pet for (most likely because of the guilt of abandoning a present).
I know that it's easy to imagine a perfect fit and a great gift. But there is so much that could go wrong! If you are seriously considering adopting or getting a pet as a present this holiday season, please ask yourself if it is really worth it before committing yourself or a loved one to a pet they might not want, need, be able to actually care for, or afford.