Why puppies do NOT make good Christmas Gifts
When I was in the 3rd grade, I had a rather traumatizing experience that changed the way I viewed dogs forever. I grew up in a small town in Southern New Hampshire, about 45 minutes outside of Boston. Although I consider myself a city girl, my home was in the middle of the woods, by a lake and our neighbors were far and few between. It was a cool, fall morning in October and as I waited for the bus to round the corner at the top of my street, I watched as a small car drove past my driveway and pull over a little ways up the road. A man got out, opened the door for a beautiful golden retriever and then chucked a tennis ball as hard as he could off into the woods. The dog took off after it and the man immediately got into his car as his dog bounded away and drove off. Horrified, I immediately threw my backpack on the ground and ran up the street, calling for the dog. He happily came to me with his tennis ball and followed me back up my driveway where I yelled for my mom and explained what I had seen. By then, the bus was pulling up to my driveway and my mom promised to take care of my new friend while encouraging me to go to school.
Two hours into my school day, I had a complete mental breakdown over my snack. I just couldn’t believe I had witnessed someone essentially throwing their dog out, abandoning him on the side of the road. When I explained to my teacher what had happened that morning, she let me go down to the office to call my mom and get an update. My mom had called animal control, told them what had happened and surrendered the dog to them so that he could find a new home. Although that sweet golden had a happily ever after, I still can’t shake the thought of “what would have happened if I wasn’t waiting for the bus that day.”
Puppies for Christmas
With Christmas just around the corner, there are a lot of sweet video montages going around on social media of children waking up and being surprised on Christmas morning by a puppy waiting for them under the tree. Tears are shed, squeals of joy are shared and everyone seems happy because puppies are so cute and loveable and cuddly. However, it was reported last year that in the week following Christmas, one animal rescue alone received over 1600 calls reporting abandonment, including a 10 week old German Shepard puppy being left in a box on the side of the road.
Please, do not give a puppy to someone for Christmas. Puppies are not just Christmas gifts, puppies are life long commitments. Puppies require training, hard work, daily walks, shots and health care. Puppies require chew toys and food and treats and probably will go through 2-3 different sized collars as they grow. If you are gifting a puppy to someone, you are essentially signing them up for that commitment and they might not be ready for it. Sure, it’s a really sweet idea for a gift, but the novelty will wear off when they have to deal with chewed up shoes or realize that they work 8 hours a day and have to kennel the pup for that long of a time.
Puppies are not something you enjoy for a few weeks and then return. Dogs are not accessories. When you choose to bring a dog into your life, you are making a commitment to provide for, to sacrifice for and to give a safe environment for him or her. No one should make that kind of choice for someone else just because it’s a cute Christmas gift.
Puppies should be a family decision:
When Dustin and I decided to get a dog, we had been talking about it for over a year. We spent 8 months volunteering at our local animal shelter, learning about what kinds of breeds or characteristics we wanted in a dog. We sat down and adjusted our budget to make sure we could afford monthly bags of dog food, a kennel, and toys. We even moved to a new apartment that was closer to a park and to my siblings so that they could help with our new puppy while I finished my student teaching. And even though we had thought hard and made the choice to get Rosie together, I still cried every day for the first two weeks of having her because she was HARD work. She peed everywhere, she was afraid of the stairs and had to be carried up and down them and her separation anxiety was causing ME separation anxiety. I thought we had made a huge mistake, but Dustin kept telling me: “when we have kids, you can’t just give them up, so you can’t give this puppy up, either.” So we stuck through it and now I can’t imagine my life with Rosie, but it wasn’t easy those first few weeks.
Rosie is everything good in this world wrapped in one very sweet pup. It breaks my heart to think about someone else adopting her and then abandoning her on the side of the road because they didn’t want her anymore. Rosie is the epitome of unconditional love and devotion. She teaches me every day what it’s like to sacrifice things that I want to do in order take care of her. She relies on me to be in tune with her behavior so I know when something is bothering her. And she has taught me that “when someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.”
Be responsible this Christmas season. Please think long and hard about the life commitment you are signing someone else up for before you put a puppy under the tree for them. And if you do have a puppy that isn’t working out for you, please, PLEASE do not just leave it on the side of the road.
This is something that is very near and dear to my heart; please consider sharing this blog post on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest to help others reconsider their choice to gift a pup this Christmas season.