Almost every year, some advertising executive has a great idea to run a TV commercial that includes an adorable fat yellow puppy with a big red bow around his neck sitting under the Christmas tree.
Most people are extremely busy over the holidays and unfortunately, the sad reality is that some of those Christmas puppies and kittens end up at shelters in January. Think long and hard before you decide to give anyone a pet as a gift. Be honest with yourself and consider your situation.
Is the nature of your job such that you have more or less time over the holidays? If you work in retail, for example, you may have a lot less time. But if you are a teacher, you might have some time off.
Any pet, but especially a baby like a puppy or kitten needs a lot of extra attention when you first bring it home. The new furry member of your household should be a priority — remember that he may be a member of your household for the next 15 years. It’s also important for everybody to learn the home routine (especially for housebreaking purposes). It’s not fair to the puppy if you won’t be able to let him out or spend time with him during the chaotic holiday season.
Puppies and kittens also need to be watched constantly. Ornaments, wires, lights, tinsel, and other holiday paraphernalia can be dangerous to a curious young pet. It’s a lot easier to deal with a new pet after the decorations have been put away.
With all these caveats in mind, it’s not always a terrible idea for people to get pets over the holidays. For example, those spending the holiday season alone may benefit from the company of a new furry friend. People without kids or who are retired with extra time available may do well sharing the season with a new pet.
However, you really should never give a pet to someone who is not expecting it. Getting a pet should be a family decision (even if your family is just you). Shelters are filled with furry gifts that were “returned.” A pet is never a good surprise, since the recipient may not be able to take on the financial and personal responsibility for another living creature for the next 15 years. Not to mention the fact that choosing a pet is a very personal decision. It’s not one that should be made for someone else.
So if the latest adorable puppy commercial has tempted to you to get a new pet, talk about it with your family. Look at it as an educational opportunity. Wrap presents such as a collar, leash, and a book on pet care. Then visit an animal shelter or rescue after the holidays, so everyone can pick out the new family friend together.