Christmas and Pets
Finding a puppy under the Christmas tree is a cliché in so many movies, it had become an easy way out when someone didn’t have any other ideas what to get. Don’t get me wrong, if someone has been wanting a certain type of dog, and Christmas presents itself as an opportunity to make that desire come true, fantastic. But picking up a dog, or any pet, as a last minute decision, without knowing the recipient is ready for the commitment to that particular pet can be a very unwise decision. The months and years that follow can end up being a problem, for pet and new owner.
We get a lot of questions about giving pets as presents every year, and we have a number of tips that I’ll share with you this week.
Introducing a pet into the chaos that the holidays usually are can stress out an animal unnecessarily. The pet doesn’t have to be wrapped up under the tree for it to be a part of Christmas. For a dog or cat as a gift, a handmade coupon committing to finding the perfect pet, along with some of the basic supplies, collar, leash, food dishes, bed, etc. is a great idea. Then everyone can get involved in selecting a pet that fits the family’s needs and abilities to provide care for.
Small animals, fish, birds or reptiles all require a “kit” consisting of housing, food and supplies. Putting a kit under the tree allows you to give the gift of a pet, without subjecting it to the stresses of Christmas morning. Then, in the days following, you can arrange a visit to the store to pick out the pet. This way the recipient chooses the actual animal they are going to be responsible for the care of. This can also be helpful in other ways.
We sometimes hear of children getting a pet hamster or guinea pig, and in the months that follow, their commitment to changing the cage, feeding and watering the animal starts to waiver. When confronted, they respond “That’s not the hamster I wanted, I wanted a beige one” or some other excuse. When they have directly chosen the animal, these arguments are diffused. “You picked that one, you have to care for it” is a response that is irrefutable.
Sometimes, the choice of the actual type of animal may change from the time the kit was purchased and the time for choosing the animal. Because the kit is unused, there is no problem exchanging it for one for a different animal. And again, since the recipient is making the final decision, it is more likely that it is exactly what they want and can care for.
Gift Cards / Certificates sound like a real lazy gift, but with pets, they are sometimes the best option. We have many people come in each year, buying “part” of a gift by purchasing a Gift Certificate that will be used to buy a larger item, like an Aquarium Kit, or a Reptile Kit, or a Guinea Pig and Kit. Chipping in, many people together can give what they are able, and make someone’s Christmas dream come true.
Post Christmas is a busy time for animal shelters and pet rehabilitation groups. It doesn’t have to be, if we all put a little more thought into our gift giving. Happy Holidays.