Home > Pet Adoption, Pet Topics > Getting a pet should require more forethought than a last minute gift idea.

Getting a pet should require more forethought than a last minute gift idea.

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently watched an adorable video on Life With Dogs featuring puppies playing amongst Christmas presents. I’m not going to lie. I was conflicted. The video was absolutely adorable, but a part of me worried that people would come away thinking that getting a puppy for Christmas was a good idea. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people comment on the cuteness of the video, but also include a statement reminding people not to purchase or adopt a pet for a Christmas present. I wish more people would heed this advice.

Recently, I was reminded of the importance of this message when a friend sent me an email regarding a co-worker who was looking for a new home for a relative’s Sheltie. The dog in question had been purchased as a gift by adult children for their elderly father, who was already suffering the beginning stages of dementia. The dog was supposed to become a beloved companion for the father as he declined in health. Amazingly questionable logic isn’t it? Why give a dog to someone who won’t be able to care for it in the future? Why put a dog in a home to become attached to someone knowing that some day soon they will have to be separated? I cannot fathom why someone would choose to do this, but they did.

Sadly, this is story is not all that uncommon. I still remember the little ball of fluff (a cute little Yorkie puppy) that was surrendered at our shelter a few years ago because the daughter it had been purchased for did not want it. The parents had spent nearly $1000 on a gift that could not be returned to the store like any other Christmas or birthday gift (although I would argue that surrendering a puppy at a shelter might as well be considered like any other gift – returnable, expendable, exchangeable).

I know that somewhere this Christmas some child or girlfriend or elderly parent will receive a pet as a gift. It’s a reality I accept. I just hope that THIS pet will be treated as the living, breathing being that it is, and respected and loved and cared for – for ALL of it’s life and not just for the short time in which it is a gift. Getting a pet should require more forethought than a last minute gift idea.

Note: I wrote a post back in 2009 listing the reasons why getting a pet for Christmas is a bad idea. I think it is still applicable today.

  1. December 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    And isn’t that only fair? To the person getting the gift and the dog being given as one? I don’t think an animal of any kind should ever be given as a gift. That would be like me picking out your adopted child for you. It is too personal a decision and needs to be made by that person and their family alone. No matter how good the intentions. We are talking about another living breathing life. Not a decision for someone to make in my opinion.

    Thank you for sharing again. A message that needs to be heard. Again and Again…

    • Mel
      December 22, 2011 at 7:16 AM

      A great analogy 24 Paws. Getting a pet is an intensely personal decision. People shouldn’t make that kind of decision for someone else.

  2. December 21, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    Well said… I got a dog as a Christmas present when I was 10. However, we had discussed it as a family and had been looking for the perfect dog for months. I was fully involved – it didn’t need to be a surprise. The experience was still wodnerful. We got her in November and my mom just joked that she wasn’t officially “mine” until December 25.

    • Mel
      December 22, 2011 at 7:14 AM

      I actually love your story AJ. I think that is an awesome way to go about choosing a pet. I mostly dread the last minute puppy purchase that is supposed to be a gift for someone else who may not want the extra work a puppy brings. Clearly your family put a lot of thought into this decision.

  3. December 22, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    That’s how my Mom got her current dog, Speck. Some guy decided to “surprise” his wife with a puppy for Christmas.After a month she decided that the dog was “too much work”. Nice.

    • Mel
      December 22, 2011 at 7:11 AM

      Wow. How sad. SO glad your mom got Speck. Obviously, she appreciates him more than the original gift recipient.

  4. Jen
    December 22, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    I always cringe at work when someone comes in with a Christmas pup. It seems that everything is all good for the first week and then everyone goes back to work and school and realizes how much work a puppy really is. Of course, there are exceptions that a few lucky Christmas pups goes into loving forever homes, but unfortunately not many.

    • Mel
      December 22, 2011 at 7:08 AM

      I cringe too Jen. I have seen too many dogs surrendered soon after being given as a gift to think that it is ever a good idea. I wish there were more exceptions and people actually kept them for life.

  5. December 22, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    I hear too many stories just like this on a daily basis. It’s heart-breaking every single time. Living creatures are not objects to be given to others at random. Animals are no more disposable than children. Maybe it’s a bit crass, but I often joke about how I can’t have children because I’d have to give them up when I get a second dog, I just wouldn’t have the time! While I don’t want to directly compare the two, they are both living beings we are solely responsible for.

    There must be a creative and positive way to get this message across. Pets are not presents, give booze, it doesn’t last as long?
    Clearly I’ll need to work on this. 😛

  6. December 22, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    Thank you for posting on this topic. This time of year especially this issue cannot be discussed enough. My wife and I work in rescue and cannot tell you how many emotionally traumatized, stunted, under developed, and general dogs who do not know how to be a dog we have worked with that were once ‘gifted’ dogs. No forethought can and does traumatize a life.

    • Mel
      December 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      You are so welcome Chad. I used to see it too when I volunteered at our local shelter. it always made me sad to see puppies surrendered after the gift recipient decided they were way more work than they wanted. God bless you and your wife for the work you do. I know it’s not easy.

  7. December 22, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    We have a dog here who was a Christmas puppy. One member of the family didn’t realize how much work she’d be, and truth be told, some breeds are easier than others. She wasn’t anything like the Greyhounds they’d had before. We got her at eighteen months old, and she’d been to stay with a friend for two months right after they got her because the husband was home from work and said “it’s me or the dog” and then a year later they sold their house and had to leave her with someone different because the house they were staying in had a woman who was afraid of big dogs. By the time she came to us at eighteen months old, a lot of socialization windows had closed. I love her dearly, but she is a somewhat fractured soul. It’s become a lot more obvious to me now that we have our own puppy here in the house. We’re working very hard with him to get the right socialization and training in while he’s young. And it is A LOT of work! Getting a puppy is definitely not a decision to be taken lightly!

    • Mel
      December 23, 2011 at 6:58 PM

      I never knew her story before Carrie. I thought you had gotten her as a puppy like Kuster. How sad that she had come from that situation.
      I wonder if all the work you are doing with Kuster will rub off on her and help?

  8. December 29, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    I had never had my own dog until I got jazz, my 10 pound Chihuahua-mix when he was 9 weeks old. Before I decided to adopt him I had to look at my life to be certain I could give him the attention he needed at his age – four feedings a day because he barely weighed two pounds.

    I lived close to work and could come home every day at lunch, and I had neighbors looking in on him during the day. That was 7 years ago. Like taking care of children, life revolves around my animals schedules ( I also have a cat.) I plan my social life around my dog’s feeding and walking time as if he were a child,. In turn, he is the perfect dog – so happy and fun and wonderful. Anyone considering adopting a dog must understand the time and energy that goes into it. You must be there for the dog. When you are, they repay you with such love.

    I would like to post the photo above on my blog… I hope it’s okay. 🙂

  9. December 29, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    Here’s my post about your graphic, above. Thanks for inspiring me!

    Happy New Year all!


    • Mel
      December 29, 2011 at 8:51 PM

      Oh Andrea! What a lovely post! I am so very sorry about Pedro.

      May you and Jazz have a lovely New Year!

      • December 29, 2011 at 10:08 PM

        Thank You, Mel, The very best New Year to you, too!

  1. December 23, 2011 at 6:10 AM

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