Thursday, December 1, 2011

Puppies aren't for Christmas.

Christmas sweaters to the contrary.

And neither are kittens or bunnies or lizards or any of them.

Don't get me wrong. I am of the firm belief that every child person should have a dog (or pet of some kind...but mostly a dog). Obviously, I have two dogs. I grew up with three of them. I've had a plethora of other animals. I can't imagine life without a canine companion or at least some sort of animal friend.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about adding a four-legged member to your family.

The wrong way is to impulse-buy an unasked-for cuddly big-eyed ball of fluff, wrap it up, stick it under the tree, and hope for the best.

But the eyes! It's so hard to resist the eyes!

Dogs are a lifetime commitment. They are living creatures, not objects. You have to be prepared to feed, care for, and love to pieces that adult animal for its entire lifespan of seven to twenty years, depending on breed (though, really, no matter how long it is, it's never long enough). You have to put that sucker in your will with provisions for its care in case of your sudden passing.

The American Kennel Club has a great list of things to consider before getting a dog (and once you own one), most of which apply whether you're looking to purchase a purebred or rescue a mutt from the pound. Number 74 on this list is an excellent summary of everything I'm trying to say:
You aren't a dog owner just at Christmas, or on the weekends, or in the afternoon, or when you have spare time. You aren't a dog owner just when the dog is behaving, or when he's a cute fuzzy puppy, or when he's winning awards. When you bring a dog into your family, that dog is yours for life. If you can't keep that commitment, don't make it. And once you've made it, don't break it. Your dog's life depends on you.
Sometimes dogs eat watermelons.
Ask me about the time they drank all the beer.
Puppies are cute. They're also smelly, messy, curious, tirelessly energetic, and helpless, dependent on you for everything. Kind of like babies. Babies with really sharp teeth. They will pee on the carpet. They will shred your favorite slippers. They will wake you up in the middle of the night. They will run around like maniacs at all hours. They will shed on everything even if they never even go into the room where that thing is stored.

They're worth it, but even if you have carefully considered the decision to bring a dog (or whatever animal) into your home, the holidays, with their hectic schedules, hazardous decorations, and general insanity, are not the time to do it. Instead of a puppy, give animal supplies as gifts with the promise to choose a dog when life has settled down in January.

Everyone will appreciate your foresight and patience. Especially your new best friend.

Or friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment