Movies and TV have given people the idea that adorable puppies make heartwarming holiday gifts. In reality it can often end in the heart-wrenching realization that this living, breathing "gift", is not a good fit for the family and they are now faced with the dilemma of how to get rid of their new pet. All too often we find these “gifts” discarded at overcrowded shelters where they run the risk of being euthanized.
During the holidays, many people capitalize on the flow of emotions and spur of the moment decisions. This is when the pet stores are full of popular breeds straight from their puppy mill suppliers. Backyard breeders are also in high gear at this time of year. You need only look in the classified ads to see the flood of people trying to turn the family pet into a Christmas money maker.
Bringing a dog into your home should be a family decision and not a surprise gift. Everyone, including the children, should educate themselves on different types of dogs and decide what breed or mixed breed would best fit into their lifestyle. It is also important to remember that an adult in the household will ultimately be responsible for the dog, not the children. The adult must be willing to accept this responsibility and be willing to care for the dog for the next 15 or so years, which may be long after the children lose interest or leave the nest.
Instead of buying that cute little puppy as a gift, we suggest giving books on pet selection, training, care, health, diet, and individual breeds. Pet care supplies and subscriptions to pet magazines and newsletters are also good choices. These presents are wonderful ways to introduce the joys of pet ownership and will help when deciding what type of dog is right for your home. It's a decision that everyone in the household should make together when they are truly ready to commit to a new lifetime companion. This will benefit everyone - the gift giver, the family and the deserving animal.
Once you have decided to make the commitment and add a furry family member to your home, we believe that choosing to adopt from a reputable rescue is one of the best ways to find a dog that is a great match for your family. Most of the time the dogs have lived with foster families who get to know each of the dogs very well. Knowing the dog’s personality, temperament, good and bad habits, likes and dislikes, etc, will go a long way to help ensure a great match is made for everyone.
We hope that when you hear someone say that they plan to give a pet as a gift, you take the opportunity to educate them. Animals cannot speak for themselves, but you can be their voice and convey the message that pets aren't disposable; they need love and commitment their whole lives and choosing a new pet should be something everyone in the family enjoys together.