The Surprise Christmas Pet! Why you should avoid making this mistake?
Updated: Jan 9
First, we will begin with Christmas morning. The kids come barreling down the stairs in their Christmas pj’s, giggling with delight. Santa has come and left just what they were wishing for, a cute, furry little kitten is waiting for them beneath the tree, adorable in her big red bow. It’s love at first sight. The kitten purrs and jumps all over the kids then curls up on their laps and drifts off to sleep. The children beam with happiness. The camcorder rolls. The perfect family moment.
Although a beautiful picture, this might not work out quite the way you planned!
Even if your kids haven’t pestered you all year for a cat or dog, which they likely have, The movies, tv and ad campaigns, which constantly bombard our daily lives, ensure we can easily picture how lovely it would be to bring a puppy or kitten home for the holidays. You must see past Christmas morning…
Why is a “Christmas Pet” a mistake?
First, because none of our furry little friends should ever be a surprise! The arrival of a pet changes your household routines considerably, and for years. Someone will have to take responsibility for their daily needs, their feeding, exercise, and health. The decision should be thought about, and discussed at length, with everyone who will be responsible for the care of the newest family member, and researched to ensure you find the right pet for your home and family. A new pet, and not necessarily a puppy or kitten either, senior cats or dogs are also great adoption choices, but whatever you do adopting a pet should be the result of a process, not an impulse.
When it comes to our kids, they can be unreliable, because kids are constantly changing. The pet will melt their hearts for a few days or maybe a few weeks. Then the holidays end, But the care of their furry little friend doesn’t, their pet will still need to be walked every day (rain or shine). It will need careful attention to its feeding and eliminating if it’s going to be housebroken effectively, and in a timely manner. It needs to be taught not to jump on visitors. The kid’s excitement and enthusiasm to the surprise pet under the tree, will soon turn into “please Mom, I don’t want to walk the dog or “come on Dad I don’t have time to change the litter box.” There is an easy reason for this. Not many children want to be tied down to conscientious animal care, and their parents are often no more enthusiastic about the task, but none the less will likely become the new pets primary care giver. Reality will soon wash away the Christmas morning fantasy.
The bigger problem with the Christmas pet is that not many good pets are available for holiday giving. Due to the fact that any ethical pet provider will not support the idea of a dog or cat as a surprise present. Good breeders have carefully constructed their breeding programs and rarely involve the idea of a pet as a seasonal gift, unless arrangements have been made with people they know well far in advance. Breeders don’t want their animals to end up in households where they won’t feel loved, or where nobody understands the work involved in raising them. Experienced shelter workers and breeders alike hate the whole idea of the Christmas pet, because they know many of those animals will be coming back to them.
The pets that are readily available at Christmas are most likely not what you had in mind. The kind you probably wouldn’t want. There are Puppy mills that grind out hundreds of puppies to meet holiday demands. They’re the dogs you can find in the classifieds, or pet stores and malls, cute as puppies and but often inbred, are poorly socialized, higher risk of genetic health problems like allergies or bad hips along with behavioral difficulties like compulsive barking or chewing, that may occur.
This Christmas, maybe consider getting the kids something else they’ll love and use. Or something simple like hoodies or a Maybe a funny t-shirt, with a design they have been wanting. Whatever it is make it something you won’t end up cleaning up after, and if they lose interest, you won’t have to walk a mile it in the middle of a snowstorm, when nobody else volunteers to take on the task. Remember, Owning a pet is a long-term commitment of time, money and love that not every one can make. So please consider this, before surprising a loved one with a pet they might not be ready for this Holiday Season.
But if you absolutely see a pet as the perfect addition to your family this Christmas, and your ready for everything that comes with it, then choose it carefully, and take your time. Get one from a reputable breeder, an experienced rescue group, or an established animal shelter. Ask lots of questions about the animal, expect the breeder or staff to ask you a lot as well. If they don’t, be cautious. A store clerk or breeder who simply hands you a pet in exchange for your credit card, is not your friend. Experienced breeders know the animals they sell and the people they are selling them to. And don’t worry if the newest family member comes to you in spring instead of on Christmas morning. It will be just as cute and loveable without the Christmas decor.
In 2021, people are not only setting price limits and gifting to fewer people this season, but even opting for homemade crafts, such as photo collages and digital products purchased online, over store bought presents. I applaud this trend, I've long advocated for the return of less expensive, more meaningful gift-giving and I am happy to see it’s return. Gifts that provide beautiful memories, not just in the moment, but for years to come have always been my favorite. Following that trend, here is a suggested gift list of another kind of treasure, emotional, recession-proof, treasures that will mean something more for the special people on your Christmas list this year!
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