Oh... You Better Watch Out...

A Puppy For Christmas

It's every kid's dream... to come downstairs in the early morning hours on Christmas morning and find a cute little furry face peering out from a brightly wrapped box. A new puppy or dog at Christmas seems like the ideal gift. But it's not a great idea. And here's why...

North Pole The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year, with traveling to relative's houses, shopping for presents, finishing school just before the break, and making all those last-minute plans. Though it may be the time of joy and peace, it is rarely peaceful. Bringing a new member into the family during that chaotic and hectic time is difficult at best. New puppies require a lot of attention and a calm, stable environment to thrive. It's so easy to forget about them in the rush and bustle of the holidays and in the end, they'll suffer. People also tend to have lots of family around, coming and going, and this frantic activity is just the opposite of the type of calm, relaxed environment you want to introduce a puppy into. Housebreaking takes lots of time, teething can be a nightmare, especially with all the tempting holiday ornaments and "goodies" around. Puppyproofing your house at any time can be a difficult task - but almost impossible during the holidays.

Many places that sell puppies cater to the "Christmas rush" and plan litters to arrive at around that time. With the increase in numbers, it becomes difficult to care for each and every incoming puppy - particularly with health concerns. Holiday puppies are often sick and substandard due to the need to fulfill demand. If one is going to buy a puppy from someone other than a reputable breeder (and we recommend that you DO NOT buy a dog from a pet store or backyard breeder!), this is often the absolute worst time to do it. Truly, you should be on a waiting list for a planned litter from a reputable breeder and whenever that litter is due is when you should be adding a puppy to your family.

Holiday season also means winter, and trust me, housebreaking a puppy in 20 below zero weather, with a foot of snow outside, is no fun at all. Most people hate the thought of even stepping outside and young pups are no different. If you're planning on having an outside dog, it is impossible to put a young pup, with little ability to thermally regulate its body, outside in the cold weather to fend for itself. That's one sure way to end up with a dead pup and even garages or sheds can become too cold for young pups to withstand.

Holidays also present household dangers that you normally wouldn't have around - tinsel, abundant electrical cords, candles, poinsettia plants, chocolate, small items to swallow (like ornament hangers, pine needles, ribbons, etc.), roaring fires, and too many places to get into - potentially lethal to an inquisitive puppy.

Getting a puppy should be a lengthy decision, one taken by the entire family. It shouldn't be a "surprise" to a family member or a loved one that may not be expecting a pet for a gift. If you decide to buy your aunt and uncle a puppy for Christmas, what happens if they don't want it or aren't prepared to take on the responsibilities of pet ownership that come along with such a gift? Then what becomes of the pup? If it's returned to the place where it was sold, what are its chances of being resold? If you can't return it, where will it go? Will you keep it? Take it to the pound? Or turn it over to rescue? Animal shelters and rescue organizations fill up quite quickly after the holidays are over because of people making these sorts of seemingly thoughtful decisions.

So what should you do? You're intent on giving such a wonderful present but don't want it to backfire. Well... here's

The Solution

Instead of buying a puppy for your loved one, buy them a bowl, a collar, a leash, and a bag of puppy food and present it along with a "coupon" good for one puppy (of their choosing) at the time of their choosing - at your expense. That way, even if they want to get one at that time, they can wait until the holiday season is over and get the puppy during a more relaxed time period. They can also take their time in choosing the appropriate breed, sex, and size of their dog and it gives them a chance to do the required research into the various breeds. Also, if by chance they aren't ready for a puppy or don't want one, all they have to do is return the bowl and other items - and a puppy doesn't have to needlessly suffer. If they do decide to get a puppy, make sure they read Bringing Puppy Home before they bring it back home.

Or better yet, point them in the direction of rescue and have them adopt a dog - that way they get exactly what they want and a dog that will fit into their family. Or best of all, buy them a dog for Christmas by sponsoring one of BCR's rescue dogs at the facility and send them a stuffed dog with their sponsorship. This way they get a dog (in spirit) and no one has to clean up the mess on the kitchen floor. What more could anyone ask for? You end up saving a life and spreading peace on Earth... goodwill towards men (and dogs :-)

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Page last updated November 19, 2003. All material Copyright © 2003 Border Collie Rescue, Inc.
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