A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas

Nov 30, 2014 | Pet Guardians

Pets should not arbitrarily be given as gifts

Pets should not arbitrarily be given as gifts

Now that Thanksgiving is in the past, our focus turns to Christmas. Finding the perfect gift for a loved one can be a daunting task. If you are considering giving or getting a pet as a present, please do some research.

First, be sure the intended recipient wants an animal.  A client once confided in me she didn’t really want the dog her children gave her. The children thought the woman was lonely after the death of her spouse. The woman had been looking forward to traveling and living a carefree lifestyle. The dog interfered with those plans. This was a generous thought gone wrong. We did find a new home for Fluffy. But it would have been much easier if the well meaning children had asked first! Before you give a pet, be sure it is welcome.

Second, try  to find a dog that fits the lifestyle of the person for which it is intended. This includes you if you are searching for a dog for yourself. Take the time to make an honest assessment of schedules, energy and other commitments. Sometimes a puppy is not the best choice. A more mature dog might fit in better. I like busy high energy dogs. Many people prefer a more sedate pet, or a couch potato, or a running partner. There are dogs to fit these niches, but not every dog will suit the individual situation.

Third, dogs have physical and emotional needs. Be sure there is adequate  time to exercise the dog. And that there will be an opportunity for meaningful daily interactions with the new dog. If these biological necessities can’t be satisfied, consider giving a cat. Or suggest volunteering at a shelter for some canine interactions before making a commitment to owning a pet. Dogs are not for everyone, and that’s ok.

Fourth, consider that every year, 7.6 million animals enter a shelter. 2.7 million are adopted, but 2.7 million are euthanized. If you are looking for a pet, check your local shelter and rescue organizations. There are dogs of every breed shape and size waiting for someone to rescue them. Isn’t a safe, loved life the best gift of all?