All Things Pets

A New Pet for the Holidays?

Think before you act

It is so fun imagining the look on your loved one’s face when you gift them a warm, cuddly new fur baby! 

But wait— hold on— not so fast! Think first. Is surprising someone else with a dog, puppy, cat, or kitten a loving gesture? Yes, it can be, but it might not be so merry and bright in the long run. 

First, the holiday season is not an ideal time to bring a new animal into the home. It is way too hectic with the many obligations, travel, visitors, potentially harmful décor, and often off-the-charts excitement. When bringing home a new companion, a stress-free and quiet environment is best for a dog or cat.

Secondly, the word “surprise” should NOT be part of the equation when giving someone a pet. Some folks give pets as a surprise more for their own pleasure at seeing the recipient’s reaction, but this is not in the best interest of the animal or the human receiving it. 

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The perfect gift, personalized dog accessories by Mad in Crafts | Photo courtesy of Jessica Hill, owner

I like what Pat Miller, editor of the Whole Dog Journal, said about getting a puppy for one of her childhood Christmases. Her parents wrapped up a collar, leash, and dog bowl and put the package under the Christmas tree. “After the holiday chaos, we had plenty of time to look for a dog. When things were calm, we brought my first Collie puppy home and had time to give him proper care and attention.” This example is preferred when the adults in the family decide a new, four-legged friend is the perfect gift for their kids or another family member. 

If you are home alone for the holidays – no traveling, no family or friends visiting, no parties, minimum decor – it could be the perfect time to add a new canine or feline companion to your family. Just use common sense and not your emotions to make the decision. Other than your kids or grandkids, unless the people in your life have indicated they are looking to adopt and are confident they are serious and ready for the responsibility, offer to pay the adoption fee for their gift instead of surprising them. As a gesture of support, go with them to the shelter, but let them pick out their forever friend! You could even do what Miller’s parents did and gift wrap dog or kitty accessories for the lucky recipient. 

Many parents will bring a new puppy or kitten into the home, hoping it will be a learning experience for their children. You think, what a great way for the kids to learn to care for another life.” But I say no! That will backfire. Typically, the parents do all the grunt work, like cleaning up after the pet, training, feeding, and walking. Kids have an uncanny way of wriggling out of the less fun parts of pet ownership, at least until they are 9 or 10 years old, when you are more likely to get their cooperation.

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Snug as a bug in a rug | Image by Iryna Bakurskaya

So, if you’re contemplating bringing a sweet animal home this holiday season, think about the ramifications. Ensure you always put the animal’s well-being into the equation first. And remember, pets are expensive and time-consuming: shots, chip insertion, spay or neuter, food, dog walking, and litter box cleanout for cats. If this is truly what you want, make sure you know this is for the long haul, and you have the financial means and the time to maintain the commitment.Every year, many cats and dogs end up in shelters due to their costly upkeep. And that is heart-wrenching for both your family and your pet! But if you’ve considered all the pros and cons and you are still eager, go for it and save the life of a shelter pet this festive season. That kitty or doggo might be the perfect new family member who, in time, you couldn’t dream of ever having lived without.


Laura Sutherland

Laura Sutherland is the owner of WAG-n-TRAIN pet services, East Dallas’s premier pet care provider. Laura is insured, and a member of the Professional United Petsitters (PUPs).

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