Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Puppy? Think Again

Recently an acquaintance of mine told me with excited glee that they were planning on getting a puppy for Christmas. She was curious why I wasn’t equally excited. I asked her if she had really thought about it. To her defense, she and her family have done their homework, and have involved their children, so it’s not like Mom and Dad are making a hurried decision to appease the little ones with their desire to “have a puppy.”

But again, has she really thought about it? Does she have any clue about what’s involved in taking care of a puppy? Does she know it’s sort of like having another baby? I tried to educate her during our 30 minute conversation. First of all, I told her she needs to know she’s going to be getting up at 3am to let the new pup out to go potty. Puppies can’t hold it all night long. She will be doing this for several months. “Oh” she said, “I hadn’t thought of that.” Then she needs to make sure they take the little one out every couple of hours to help with potty training. If an accident occurs in their house, it’s not the puppy’s fault; it’s their fault for not paying attention.

Then there’s the issue of those sharp puppy teeth and the insatiable need to chew everything in sight. Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t watching your puppy and he chews up your favorite pair of dress shoes, or gnaws on the leg of your antique table. And that’s only the beginning. Puppies require work, they need training, walking, socializing, feeding, and other forms of care. It’s a huge responsibility, one that many people who bring home puppies are unaware of and unprepared for. And let’s not forget that puppies, who are so unbelievably cute when they first arrive in our lives, grow into dogs, often big dogs. If they aren’t properly trained while they’re still small, what once was such a cute trait now becomes a nuisance or a hazard. That’s why so many puppies brought home as Christmas gifts often wind up at shelters once they are a few months old.

So like my acquaintance, if you’re thinking of bringing home a Christmas puppy, please think again, especially if you are planning it as a surprise. Instead, talk to your family, decide on the type of dog you want, and do your research. If you must have a purebred puppy, research and find the best breeder you can find. Otherwise consider shelters. You can find any type of dog you want through various shelters. If you want a puppy, there are lots of puppies who are dropped off at shelters regularly. And finally, consider a dog who’s a bit older. Yes, you won’t be able to experience that “puppiness” but you also won’t have to deal with the challenges either. And you’ll have the joy in knowing that you’ve saved a dog’s life.

No comments:

Post a Comment