Pets Are For Life, Not Just For Christmas

What type of pet should you ask for as a Christmas present?
A stuffed animal.

Consider a dog, arrived the night before and kept in a garage corner until the kids wake up. Along with the toys, books, and video games, there is a little live thing in a strange and unfamiliar new environment, with young hands and arms grasping at it. Is it a real object, a toy, or a game? What do you imagine that puppy or kitten feels like when your friends come over to visit your new pet? Pets, like human infants, have needs for relaxation, training, love, play, and quiet time.

Perhaps a family witnessed the prettiest small dog, a bear-like creature. This dog, who was at a pet shop in the mall, was so lively that he rushed straight up to the couple who purchased him. “How adorable,” they thought. By 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, this little man is weary from attempting to play with all of the family’s children and has curled up in a corner. He vomits behind the coffee table after feeling unwell from the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie he had for dinner. He was so engrossed playing with the kids outdoors that he never emptied himself, so he seeks a secret spot and does so as well – say, on little Susie’s new coat.

A few weeks later, the new puppy has been confined to the garage while the family is out for the day. He has piddled and pooped all over the home, chewed through the kitchen baseboard, and wrecked the VCR. He ruins his own bedding, a rolled-up carpet, and the tires on the kids’ bikes in the garage. He’s bored, lonely, and a baby.

Cats and dogs aren’t “things.” If the holidays are a good time for your parents to take some time off work or for you to be out of school, that’s fantastic. Ask for a collar and leash, or a scratching post, and a pet book beneath the tree, and then go to a shelter or breeder a few days after Christmas. Lynn Spavik of the San Francisco SPCA suggests giving an adoption gift voucher and adopting the pet at a calmer period.

Sherry Richert of the Peninsula Humane Society in California said, “Puppies and kittens need just as much effort as a new infant. A placid and well-behaved elderly dog or cat is typically a much better option for a family.” PHS, which does not do any adoptions during the week before Christmas, also requires an interview with the entire family when placing pets in homes with children. They implemented these regulations after noting a significant increase in abandonments and surrenders roughly two months after Christmas.

The American Kennel Club, the world’s largest registry of purebred dogs, makes the majority of its money through puppy registrations, and you’d think that the prospect of hundreds of thousands of purebred puppies under American Christmas trees would make them happy. Instead, they’ve sponsored several public education campaigns about Christmas puppies over the years, including “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas,” followed by “Look Before You Leap; A Dog is for Keeps.”

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