Christmas is the time for giving, and what could be a better gift than a PUPPY?! Or a kitten. Or any other pet of your choice. We’ve all seen pictures of the golden puppy with a red bow, well behaved in its box, just waiting to be opened and shower its love. I’m just as much a sucker for puppies as the next animal lover, and I admit to turning to pictures of puppies several times over the course of this tough year to get a quick dose of happiness. But before you wrap up a living, breathing being, please consider the realities and consequences of such a gift.
The Holidays Are Stressful
There’s a lot going on during the holidays: shopping, travel, food prep, etc. Where does a new pet fit into all this? Bringing a new pet into the house is stressful in itself — for both you and the pet. Making that transition as easy and relaxed as possible will help all parties involved. But if you are trying to introduce a pet while wrapping paper is flying and kids are screaming, you will likely scare the poor thing to death. Also, if you aren’t home for the holidays, traveling with a new pet can be a whole new experience, one you may not be well-prepared for. You don’t yet know how well the pet travels and messes and anxiety can ruin a vacation. If you are stressed during the holidays, think about how stressed your new pet will be.
Routine Is King
With a new addition to the family, you will want to establish a routine as soon as possible. Especially if you need to housetrain your pet, routine is king. Are you able to set and maintain a routine during the holidays? If you’re like me, you let a lot of things go during this time. Kids can stay up late, moms can sleep in, meals happen at random times in between snacking. With the necessity of food schedules, potty schedules, walking schedules, mess clean-up, obedience training, responsibility charts, etc., the holidays become more boot camp than slumber party. Is that realistic for your household? If not, you may want to reconsider getting a pet for Christmas.
Pet stores attract a lot of attention during the holidays. The decorations plus the baby animal cuteness-overload makes for many impulse buys. After all, they have everything you need to get started with your adorable new pet! While tempting — I’ve been there — you need to do your homework before purchasing any pet. First, you need to find out if the pet is the right pet for your family. Do your research and get to know all there is to know about care, temperament, costs, obstacles, life impact, etc. This is a decision that will affect your life for the next several years; it should not be made lightly. Also, and this is very important, consider adopting a shelter pet instead of buying from a pet store. Many pet stores ship in pets from mills or irresponsible breeders. If you love animals enough to bring one into your home, do your part to end their suffering and refuse to fund the inhumane practices of mills and irresponsible breeders.