Written by: Cally Worden
On the face of it, pets make the perfect present – often furry and with an undeniable cute-factor the anticipated oohs and ahhs on Christmas morning are guaranteed. And yet, many pets, especially dogs and cats, bring with them a demand for 10 or more years of commitment from their new owner if they are to be properly cared for.
If you are thinking about giving a dog this year, for example, just imagine for a moment how the recipient would react if given a token with their pup that detailed a need for: 15 years of walks, food and vet expenses, and a high degree of household mess. This is pet reality and in this light Christmas morning suddenly looks a little different. If you’re still not convinced, or are considering a slightly less demanding pet present, then please still take a moment to consider the following points.
Christmas is Mad Enough
A busy household filled with excitable kids and potentially fractious adult relationships is not the best environment into which to introduce a new pet. Many pets suffer a degree of stress when joining a family home at any time of the year and require lots of love, attention and sensitive handling if they are to settle in well. Christmas is a fun-packed, stress-filled period that is busy with other distractions. It has the potential to cause problems in behaviour for your pet that may take some time to unravel.
T’isn’t the Season
Okay, so if your Christmas pet plan involves a hamster or goldfish then this point is irrelevant. But for any pet that will spend some time outdoors mid-winter is not really the ideal time to bring them home. Baby bunnies will shiver in a garden hutch, kittens can cause chaos around a Christmas tree and may be too little to run off their mischief outside, and even if your new pet puppy has passed his ‘safe-to-go-out’ threshold, the family may not warm to the idea of regular walks in the rain, sleet and snow. It’s just not the best time to get started.
If you are seriously considering giving a pet to someone outside your immediate family you need to be very sure it’s what they want. Choosing a pet for someone is committing on their behalf to all the fun and love they can bring into your life, but also to all the hard work, expense and unsavoury chores. If this change in lifestyle was something your recipient wanted surely they would have indulged already? For pets you are bringing into your own home you need to be very clear in your mind as to what’s involved and be prepared to step up to the plate yourself. The kids will be thrilled on Christmas morning, but the first whiff of poo or urine-soaked hay in a cage will see them running for cover. If you’re not up for managing the mess, don’t get the pet.
Pets are Not Toys
I think some people unwittingly miss this point. A pet is a living creature withÂ needs. Offering a pet a home is a big responsibility and simply cannot be compared with a introducing a Wii-U, new bike or doll’s house into the family. Inanimate objects will not suffer if they are neglected. A pet will. Even if your children are older and able to adopt a degree of responsibility, Christmas is not the time to expect them to meet this commitment.
If you’ve considered all of the above and are still convinced Christmas is the right time to bring a pet into your home then please, do your research and make sure you buy from a reputable source or adopt from an animal sancturary. Many pets, especially puppies, are reared in appalling conditions and as a result are destined for a life of poor health, with many dying within days of new owners receiving them. Help put these operations out of business by refusing to buy from them. For more information on adopting a dog click here (The Dogs Trust) or on buying a dog from a reputable source click here (link to articles on buying a dog)