It’s the holiday season. Your son is begging you for a puppy and your daughter tells you she wants a kitten all her own. They swear they will take care of the new dog or cat.
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Though it’s tempting to want to be Super Mom or Dad and swoop in with a new fuzzy, four-legged friend, there are some realities you should know about before bringing a puppy or kitten home as a holiday gift.
Sadly, animal shelters are overwhelmed with dogs and cats from February to May. Many holiday puppies and kittens are returned from people who adopted them with good intentions. However, they may not have considered the time needed to train or care for them. The results are unruly “teenage” dogs and cats which are difficult to adopt out.
Why you should think twice
No matter how sincere and convincing they are, children often do not take care of a new dog or cat. Whether they do or not, the new animal will ultimately be your responsibility.
Some parents feel that a dog might be a good way to teach their child a sense of responsibility, but is this fair to the animal or child? What happens when Billy forgets to walk the puppy when he needs to go potty? Or when Kelly forgets to feed him in the morning?
The fact is that it will be left to you, as adults, to care for this animal. So it’s essential that you are ready for that responsibility before you decide to get a puppy or kitten as a gift.
A few questions to consider
Puppies and kittens are cute — but they are a lot of work. Are you ready to:
- Spend the time and effort to toilet-train them?
- Take them out several times during the day and night?
- Have them chew up your new shoes and slippers or make a mess on the floor?
- Buy them collars, leashes, beds or crates?
- Find someone to care for them when you have to take a trip?
- Get them to training classes so that they can learn to be well-behaved companions?
- Care for a scared baby animal with parties to go to, family to see, food to prepare?
If you do decide to bring in a new pet
A puppy, kitten, dog or cat can make a wonderful addition to your family, and pet ownership has been shown to lower blood pressure, help depression, and keep you all happy, healthy and fit.
So by all means, when you and your family are ready, think about:
- What type of pet you and your family are ready for
- How you will care for it
- If you can afford it time-wise and financially
If, after consideration, you choose a puppy, try this: Instead of bringing home the puppy itself, let the kids open gifts of a dog collar and leash, a bed, some toys and chewies. Then as a family you can pick out the puppy together after the holidays when you all can meet the puppy, interact with it, and give it your full attention — and reap the benefits of all that wonderful puppy breath.