Thank you to Erin Shanendoah from the dog blog Life By Pets for sharing her thoughts on puppies as Christmas presents.
It’s the time of year when you hear constant cries of “pets aren’t gifts,” and people call for shelters and rescues to refuse to adopt out animals during the holiday season. (You hear these same kinds of cries regarding black cats around Halloween.)
My first problem with this idea is that it doesn’t take into account other reasons people might want to adopt a pet. We brought our beagle home from the shelter less than one week before Thanksgiving.
We were getting her because we had just lost one dog and our other dog was missing his friend terribly (he wasn’t exactly alone in this). If we had lost our Aussie one week later, should we have been prevented from adopting until after the holiday season?
But even forgetting those situations, I actually believe that pets can make wonderful gifts; that the gift of a new family member really brings home the meaning of the season. Under the right circumstances, what difference does it make if the new puppy comes at Christmas time or any other time of year?
A puppy as a surprise Christmas gift for a child
I know a couple that is giving their daughters a puppy for Christmas. It will be a total surprise.
Per their father:
[T]he girls have no idea. They know there is no way in hell I’m getting them a filthy animal that will pee and poop all over my house where I sleep and eat. No freakin way!!! Actually, that’s not completely true. I did tell them that if they can find a dog to babysit for a whole month, and they walk it, feed it, and clean up after it every single day that I’d think about it. They’ve been arguing for a few months about the unfairness of it all, since they can’t find a way to get a dog for a month, but I’ve been telling them that if they really wanted one, they’d figure something out.
They have been walking the neighbors’ lab, and they babysat a really sweet old dachshund for four days last month.
Obviously, their father is a bit of a curmudgeon (the best kind), and has asked that his daughters (both pre-teens) work to show them that they want and are willing to care for a new pet. He’s actually really excited about taking them to meet their new puppy on Christmas morning.
Now I know that people out there are yelling at their computer screens – you can’t trust kids to take care of the pet! If that’s your pet care plan, don’t get the pet! And I can tell you, the parents of this family know that, too.
Yes, their daughters are working very hard to show they are responsible enough for a dog, but the family also knows that puppies are a lot of work, and the girls will be in school. Luckily, Mom is a mostly stay at home mom, and she is quite prepared to be the one taking the puppy out every couple of hours as they work on potty training.
Mom and Dad both know this will be a lot of work and the majority of it will fall on their shoulders. They’ve already snuck out to buy a dog bowl, collar and leash, and Nature’s Miracle. They’re making sure their cat has a way to escape the dog.
In essence, they are doing all the right things. They are ready and excited to bring a new family member into their home.
The fact that they get to surprise their daughters – on Christmas morning, no less – is just an added bonus. And I can promise you, this is a Christmas those girls will never forget. It might even be the one they call the best Christmas ever. How can you argue with that?
Now, you might argue with me, that’s not what we’re talking about. In this case, both adults are in on the giving. A gift for the children is not the kind of gift we’re against. It’s when one adult surprises another adult with a pet that’s the problem.
I’ll counter that with this story, What? We Got a New Puppy?!?!? from Life and My Finances.
Puppies as surprise gifts from one adult to another
This is a personal finance blog, so the story is told in a different fashion from how you might read it in the pet blog world, but that doesn’t change that it’s a great story.
Basically, the wife has wanted her own puppy all her life. Husband wants a puppy, too, but as a personal finance kind of guy, had the ground rules of they needed to be able to afford it. Well, they just bought a house, and the house needs some work done, so no puppy until after the house is completed.
They’ve been talking about a dog for a long time. They both know they want one. They are both prepared for one. Wife just thinks it will be a few more months. This allows the husband to find the perfect puppy and bring her home to his wife as an early Christmas present. She’s surprised. They are both thrilled as can be with their new family member.
As he says himself, “Don’t be afraid to make those memories.”
This is going to be one of the most memorable Christmases they have as a couple, filled with the joy and laughter a puppy brings. And again, I ask, how can you argue with that?
Yes, it’s possible there’s a young woman out there who has been dating a young guy for a few months, a guy who talks about how much he loved his childhood Lab. And maybe she thinks to herself – I bet a puppy would be a great Christmas gift for him. I agree, that’s not a good situation, but she could get him that puppy for his birthday, and no one would know.
It’s the job of the people screening adoption applications to prevent that kind of behavior. Putting a moratorium on holiday adoptions doesn’t solve the problem, and it prevents the magical memories being made in the previous two stories.
Pets really can be gifts – in fact, I think they are the best gifts of all, no matter what the season.
Have you ever decided to get a puppy during the holidays for yourself or a family member?
Pictured is Erin’s beagle Junebug.