Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting a dog or cat is great - just not as a gift

To Adopt Ambrosia:  e-mailHound.haven AT gmail DOT com
The holidays can be a great time to add an animal to your family, but your timing and planning must be right.  Some good reasons to make that move now are:

You may have time off work

It is the season to share and you may want to share what you have with an animal who needs you

You may feel lonely at a time when you are relentlessly told you should be cheerful

There is nothing wrong with wanting to banish loneliness with doggy kisses or a lapful of cat.  Fostering with the possibility of adoption is also a good option.

What is wrong is giving an animal as a gift.  The husband, who brings two dogs home as a surprise, may be creating a stressful situation.  This should be a family decision.

Even young children who plead for an animal may be disappointed at your selection. A puppy or kitten who arrives Christmas morning is going to compete with all the new items.  That sends a message that an animal is an object like the other gifts. 

Surprises are fun, but there is also magic in seeing a puppy select your child and vice versa.  If you want the surprise, but want to delay the animal's arrival - give a cat or dog toy with a note that this is a gift for a new arrival coming soon.  Getting the animal before the day you give gifts is also an option.

But if you do decide to spring a surprise gift on someone you love, here is a cautionary tale.  An acquaintance was given a dog she did not want by her boyfriend for her birthday. She dumped the boyfriend the next day. The dog sleeps in her bed.