An unwanted Christmas Gift

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It’s that time of year again. The holidays have traditionally been a season of joy and good cheer. But “ho, ho, ho” has also turned into “buy, buy, buy” and “give, give, give.” Malls are full to overflowing, television commercials seem to broadcast nothing but sales, and everyone is feeling the pressure to purchase gifts for their loved ones. Inevitably, for many families with children, one of those gifts will be a puppy.

I’m not so much of a grinch that I’m going to try to talk you out of giving your children a puppy. But if you’re going to give a puppy as a gift, do your research. Find out about things like what the breed you’re considering was bred to do. For example, if the dog you are contemplating is bred to hunt (such as retrievers), herd (like border collies, Australian shepherds, corgis), or do some other active type of work, you’re most likely going to have a very active little puppy on your hands who, without a job to do, will create one in your home—one that has a title like Deputy of Destruction, or Rover’s Redecorating Service. Active breed dogs need a lot of exercise. If you’re looking for a small lap dog, look for a breed that was actually bred for it. Don’t assume that all small dogs are lap dogs! Many small breeds were actually bred for hunting and other physical activities, and some do not have the “soft” temperament many parents want—terriers, for example, are tough and feisty as a rule, rather than soft and cuddly, like, say, a Bichon Frise.

Another thing to consider, especially if you are a working couple, is whether you really want a puppy. Now, you know kids will love a sweet, adorable dog who’s a few years old just as much as they would a puppy—kids love dogs, period! And with an adolescent or adult dog, chances are you won’t have to go through that not-so-fun housebreaking period. Even if you do, it’s not the same as with a young puppy who simply can’t hold it overnight—oh yes, did I mention that’s like having an infant all over again. Here comes the No Sleep Express!

Whether you decide to buy from a breeder or adopt, don’t rush the decision. Sure, that holiday pressure is on. But here’s an idea: rather than rushing and chancing not getting the right dog for you, go out and buy a large, cute stuffed animal, put a big, red bow on it, and a card that announces “We’re getting a dog!” Believe me, the kids will be thrilled at the very notion even without the dog being there. The stuffed dog approach buys you time to discuss as a family what type of dog is right for you, and after the parents have narrowed down the choices, the kids can be part of the decision-making process.

One last tip: there is a lot you can do now, before you even bring that puppy home. Dr. Ian Dunbar has written an excellent book called Before You Get Your Puppy, and believe it or not, it’s completely free! You can download either a text-only version or the complete book with photos. Doing your research now will be the best guarantee of not only a happy holiday, but a very happy new year.

Phantom Publishing


About the Author:

Lesley Sullivan - Owner of the Pawkeepers A unique Bed & Biscuit Inn, offering numerous opportunities for your dog that are not available in crates, kennels and many other pet boarding establishments

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