Giving Pets As Gifts
We all know someone whose life would be enriched by having a pet. She keeps busy with bridge club and tennis, but there’s still plenty of room for a labradoodle on the bench seat in mom’s Buick. Your soft-spoken nephew, Miles, has been asking for a kitten for years, and now he seems mature enough for the responsibility. It’s been a little over a year since the family dog passed away, and your wife recently said she’s ready for a new puppy. But is giving a pet as a gift a good idea?
It can be, when you consider these tips:
She didn’t swoon when she unwrapped ‘Free Willy’ on VHS last year, but she still knows you love her. But this year, her heart will melt like a candy bar on the dashboard when she lays eyes on her new puppy. But what breed would she like best – A laid back, golden retriever version of the Dalai Lama, or a Jack Russell Terrier with more pep than a Grande double mocha latte? And does it really matter where you get the dog? Even the coldest Scrooge would like to see every shelter dog find a loving home, but some of us prefer to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder or pet store. And that’s okay. Once you’ve decided on a trusted source, an even bigger consideration is the health of the animal, and whether it will be a good fit in the long term.
Consider the Timing
Last Christmas Eve, your uncle Steve was caught out of left field when his wife explained that she was having an operation and changing her name from Frieda to Fred. Steve is resilient, but springing a new German shepherd on him on Christmas morning? That might just push him over the edge. Sure, he likes dogs, but does he have a fenced in yard? Is he ready for walks, vet bills, and flea medication? And isn’t Freida…er, Fred allergic to pet dander? Before you start dreaming about how excited your unsuspecting new pet owner will be when he holds that adorable new puppy, take a sober assessment of how ready he is for the 10-20 year commitment that comes along with owning a pet.
Even with the full endorsement of everyone involved, the holidays aren’t always the easiest time to bring home a new pet. There’s gift wrapping, decorating, overnight guests and parties. Plus, the weather can be dicey. Is now really the best time to introduce a new member to the family? Consider adopting in the summer when the kids are around to help out, and weather is more conducive to walks and training a new puppy.
Let Them Choose
Sure, they’re having a little trouble conceiving, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to surprise your sister and her husband with a Ukrainian orphan on Christmas morning. Unleashing a boisterous puppy in the middle of their holiday festivities may not be the best idea either. Instead, consider a stuffed animal toy, scratching post, or a book on dog training, along with a gift certificate to the local animal shelter. Christmas morning festivities will run smoothly while mom warms up slowly to the idea of her new dog. Miles can read up on caring for his new cat while he decides whether he wants a gray or brown one, and you can plan a visit to the shelter together in the new year to choose a new family dog.