With the approach of the holidays, everyone’s thoughts turn naturally to the happy chore of gift giving. Many people opt for the tried and true, hoping another gift certificate isn’t too impersonal or another scarf or bottle of perfume isn’t too predictable. Plebeian perhaps, and true those gifts are the safer choice. Certainly they are gifts with far less risk attached than those being considered by some this season: the purchase of pets as presents.
Pets as Presents
Although the idea of a dog as a gift may sound thoughtful, it is, in reality, thoughtless. Why? Because the gift OF a dog means accepting the responsibility FOR that dog. Knowing that the recipient must accept all the implications of owning a dog means the bestowing of a pet to a person must be more than a well-meant whim, or a desire to be different on the part of the giver. The actual owner, not the gift giver, must have made a carefully considered choice and an informed decision in what may ultimately be a 10 to 15 year commitment to feeding, training, veterinary expenses and the peccadillos of pet ownership.
Such decisions require homework and due diligence – by the pet owner. The best pet parents will do research into dog breeds that are most appropriate for the family, lifestyle and environment: house, condo or apartment; fenced yard or no yard; toy, athlete or couch potato. Owners talk to owners with intelligent questions about particular breeds, consult with a knowledgeable veterinarian if it’s a high maintenance breed. Other survey questions for the pet owning family to consider — does anyone in your family suffer from allergies? Does everyone even WANT a dog? Do they understand what it means to share in the training, feeding and raising of a dog? Because adding a dog to your family not only involves time and money, it means providing that dog with a loving, secure and stable home.
Kids Are Inspiring Optimists and Frustrating Flibbertigibbets
Children should never be presented with a puppy and given the power of decision whether it’s the right dog for the family – not a holiday time, or at any time of the year. Kids will typically be charmed by the furry little plaything that leaps and yips, squeals and turns over onto its back for tummy rubs. For a few days. Until the novelty wears off and reality sets in. The reality of helping care for their cute, squirming little gift that pees on the carpet, barks non-stop during family movie nights, and nips through every Wii game. Puppies are not so cute when they have to be trained to potty, walked in the rain, taken out in the snow and poop scooped every few hours.
Sometimes well-intentioned gift givers – aka parents – will now be that puppy’s full time caregivers, and, sadly, many of them have as much blind optimism going into parenting as the kids. They are not always prepared for the extent of responsibility represented by another “3 year old in a furry body” in terms of daily life. The result, worst case: one more puppy abandoned by the side of the road, dropped off at a pound or surrendered to a shelter or rescue. Sometimes shelters get too many post-holiday surrenders, get overcrowded, and euthanasia is the outcome.
Seasonal Wisdom for Pets as Presents
Neither respectable breeders nor responsible rescue groups will either sell or adopt out a dog as a holiday gift. They’re all too familiar with the heartbreaking results of such dangerous impulse buys.
Enter the ultimate puppy purveyors: those small, but inviting pet stores found in almost any mall. These are the puppies whose appealing exteriors mask appalling interiors. These are the puppies with the health and behavioral problems disguised by a holiday wrapping. These are the puppy mill dogs, bred for profit, nothing more. These will be the first puppies abandoned by the side of the road, dropped off at a pound or surrendered to a shelter. Their poor, improper breeding and compromised health often means euthanasia when no one has the extra funds, time or inclination to step in.
Risks Outweigh the Spirit of the Gift
Never buy pets as presents as a surprise gift for someone else, no matter the depth of the relationship. Whether its a cuddly dog or a kitty cat at Christmas, a bunny or a chick at Easter, a snake or a tarantula at Halloween the same rules and risks apply. What you consider an act of generosity will, in all probability, be seen as an imposition. If your favoured recipient want a pet, it’s up to them to make that choice. That same, carefully considered choice and intelligent, informed decision.
To make certain that your holidays are happy, make certain that your pets as presents are stuffed, that is full of fluff and tufties!