It’s always around Christmas time that people start looking for puppies as presents for their children or for themselves. Maybe it’s the images they see on media advertising, with cute labrador puppies wearing reindeer antlers, or Santa hats, or with bells around their necks, gambolling across the screen with such cute clumsiness. And children’s faces lighting up with joy when surprised with a Christmas puppy.
It’s all well and good having a new addition to the family. It doesn’t have to be at Christmas time, though. I mean, surely something as precious as an animal’s life deserves to be celebrated at any time of the year, not just as a nice gimmick to gain brownie points at Christmas?
Do people pause to consider these factors first before buying a puppy? (And I would rather advocate that people ADOPT or RESCUE a dog or puppy, before contemplating BUYING from a breeder. There are way too many dogs languishing in shelters, crying for a family to love. Give THEM a chance first).
1. A puppy is not just for Christmas. It’s for anything between 8-20 Christmasses, and every day in between. That’s a BIG COMMITMENT. It’s like a marriage, really. Are you sure you’re prepared? Remember, if you’re thinking of getting a puppy for a child, you not just have to train that puppy, you will need to also train your child to clean up after it, take it for walks, participate in training and socialisation classes, visits to the vet etc. Are you up to it? Is your child? Remember, children grow up into teenagers who then grow into adults and leave home. The puppy grows into an adolescent and then into an adult, but still remains at home. Who’s going to look after it?
2. Puppies go through growing stages, sometimes not just one but two. Consider the preciousness of your household items. Not just your furniture, but also your personal belongings. Your shoes, socks, underwear, clothes…anything that smells of you. Because puppies want to be near you when you’re not around, and because they need to chew to relieve teething pains. If you live in a home that’s so clean and tidy it’s practically sterile, and you have a dog, it’s probably because the dog has been relegated to some dog house or shed, out of sight of visitors. Which isn’t what the dog deserves.
3. If you RESCUE a puppy, you are helping Shelters give a dog a new lease of life, a chance at having a good home, to be loved and cherished. Instead of the dog languishing at a Shelter, possibly facing euthanasia, or bored out of its mind so as to become destructive, you’ll be providing the care and mental enrichment the dog needs to become your faithful companion and best friend for life.
4. If you RESCUE an adolescent or adult dog, there may be behavioural issues which may involve further training and/or therapy. But, and I’ve witnessed this myself from volunteering at a Dogs’ Refuge, dogs are extremely resilient, adaptable and forgiving. I’ve seen and worked with a few dogs there that were the victims of neglect and abuse, who still managed to spring back from the brink, to become affectionate family pets.
5. If you RESCUE a senior dog, be prepared for toilet “accidents” in the house, all manner of geriatric diseases and illnesses, vet bills, including the strong possibility of having to put your best friend to sleep. Senior dogs may be eccentric in their behaviour and needs, some can be quite vocal about it, so a good sense of humour and a willingness to accommodate such behaviour is essential.
Remember, a dog really is for life.