Imagine the look on your child’s face Christmas morning when they find that puppy, or kitten, under the tree decorated with a ribbon and bow. Now, imagine the look on your face several months from now when you discover it wasn’t such a good idea to give them a pet as a gift for the holidays. It turns out you’re the one who has to walk that puppy on the streets of Huntley every morning and evening.
And you’re the one who has to clean the litter box for that kitten. In the meantime, puppy or kitten, is growing out of that ‘oh-so-cute stage’ that made them so adorable in the first place.
The idea here isn’t to throw a wet blanket on a pet as a gift for a loved one; rather, the idea is to encourage a little introspective about whether you should welcome a new pet into your Huntley home. If you haven’t considered what this means completely, it’s automatically a bad idea. Bringing a pet into the family is not a good spur-of-the-moment decision. And, if it doesn’t work out, what happens to the pet then?
There are several factors you’ll want to consider before buying a pet as a Christmas present, such as:
- Is the home or apartment able to handle the pet? That cute little puppy may grow up to be a 120-pound virtual pony. Not only does that make a small apartment a bit tight for the family and a big dog, it’s also not fair to the dog. To stay healthy, dog’s need to stretch their legs. They should have regular access to the outdoors, whether this is in a fenced yard or walked on a leash (As a cautionary note: some people like to hook their dogs to a leash that is tethered to the house but, if another dog or some other animal attacks the dog, with the leash, your dog won’t be able to defend itself).
- If you’re renting, does your lease and landlord allow pets? If not, the arrival of a pet may later put you in the uncomfortable position of choosing whether to move or to get rid of the pet, which is hardly fair to the pet or the child who received the dog or cat Christmas morning.
- Are you prepared for the costs involved? What costs? For starters, you’ll want to feed that animal. You’ll also need to pay for shots, tags and medical expenses. And, if you buy cheap dog or cat food, you may spend more on medical expenses in the long run. You’ll also need to purchase a brush, leash, collar, pet toys and such.
- What about training? You may want your dog to learn tricks, or just to learn to come when you call. But, you’ll definitely want your pet to learn where to go potty – preferably not in the house. This brings up more than just a question of expertise – expertise you have or can learn, or that you’ll hire someone to share – it brings up a question of time.
- Proper care of a pet requires an investment, not only of money, but also of time. You’ll need to spend time initially training your pet not to use your Huntley kitchen as a toilet. You’ll also spend time taking your pet to the vet for shots or when sick.
- What about going away? The next time you plan a trip, if the pet isn’t climbing into the car or plane with the family, you’ll need to make arrangements for your pet’s care while you’re away. This means that you’ll need to spend some time finding someone you can trust to look after your pet. You might find a friend willing to take on the job but will they have the time and temperament? You may find that your best bet is to bring your pet to a kennel where you know they’ll take good care of your pet while you and the family are having fun without worrying.
These are all good and realistic issues to consider before you decide to purchase a pet as a gift for a loved one. Even if that loved one isn’t a child, you should ask yourself how they will do with all the points raised above.
Above, we asked the question, “If it doesn’t work out, what then?” For some who are less responsible, ‘what then’ is where the dog or cat is dropped off on the side of the road somewhere. Even with those who are more responsible, a rescue dog or cat is returned to the rescue or a pet is introduced to the rescue world.
On the flip side, a pet can be a wonderful addition to your home. They can offer loyalty, companionship and friendship. But, it’s not all fun and games. As long as you know that, and make your decision with your eyes open, a puppy or kitten is not a bad idea for a Christmas present.