'Tis the season to tell readers that while a cute puppy with a big red bow under a Christmas tree is a cute scene for a movie, reality is not so cute.
Are you stressed during the holidays? With the running around, and the messes, and the food cooking and the relatives and friends visiting? So how do you think the new dog feels? And the dog is new to the house. They need your love and patience, two things that wear thin during the holidays.
And how many end up at a shelter when they turn out to be more than people can handle? Especially if the dog's a puppy.
However, I also know that not everyone reads this blog. Or any pet blog.
So I need your help.
We know people will do what they want to do. The BEST thing to do is help them make good decisions. So here are some things people want to get a dog should consider. Please share this post with your friends and family.
1) A dog is a big-ticket item. Sure, you can get a shelter dog for $100 or less. But a dog can live 10 to 20 years. US News.com reported earlier this year that a dog can cost around $20,000 over the pet's lifetime. And that's the lower end.
Sure, you don't have to pay it out right away (though start-up costs can be pricey). But how many people drop $20,000 on an item willy nilly? (FYI: If you're that kind of person, I am single)
So what do you do with a big ticket item? Well you don't just make them. You research, you consider carefully, you discuss it with family members if you have any to discuss with. You should do the same with a dog. It should be an intimate, personal decision.
2) Avoid stores that sell puppies. This isn't even an "adopt, don't shop" thing (by the way -- ADOPT, DON'T SHOP!). I love the Christmas season. One reason is it gives me an excuse to shop. I'm an impulse shopper, especially when I'm stressed.
So you're in a Christmasy mood, and you're trying to come up with a gift for a loved one, and you're surrounded by cute fluffy doggies. Too easy to end up walking out with a puppy. And not a puppy who is particularly healthy if they are from a puppy mill. So do yourself a favor and stay away.
3) Consider a promise instead of a puppy.
(BEST viewed on the desktop version)
We've all seen the scene from "Lady and the Tramp" when Darling opened the box and out popped baby Lady. (Digression: No holes in the box? Jim Dear is lucky Lady didn't chew her way out! Like the dog is a hat or something!)
Instead of a dog under the tree, put a stuffed puppy under the tree. Consider it a promise: you'll replace this stuffy with a real pup. Then, when everything has settled down, go to a shelter or a reputable breeder and pick out a dog.
You can start the search at websites like Adopt-a-Pet or Petfinder. This gives you time to work out the details -- like who will end up taking care of the dog.
FINALLY, A dog is not an impulse buy, and it's not a diamond necklace. A dog is another living being. It should be treated with respect. Don't just pick a dog out and give it to someone. The dog chooses his owner as much as the owner chooses the dog. Pay the dog the compliment of having that choice.
Done right, you can have a relationship like the one I have with Lulu.