Pets as Presents?
As the holiday season approaches, many families decide to surprise their loved ones by giving them a pet as a gift. While the sight of a puppy under the Christmas tree may be adorable, there are many things to consider before giving the gift of a sentient being that will live for roughly 15 years. Here are just a few things to consider:
Does the recipient want a pet? If you are shopping for an adult, don’t be afraid to ruin a potential surprise. Many people love animals and gush profusely over them, yet lack the desire or the ability to keep a pet of their own. Pet ownership requires time, effort, energy and commitment. If your loved one cannot provide a suitable environment for a pet, or simply does not want to, please do not give them one as a gift. Do not assume they will change their mind or make adjustments when they see that cuddly kitten in their Christmas stocking. If they tell you they do not want a pet, respect their wishes.
Do the children understand that a pet is a responsibility? Children tire of new things quickly, and younger kids may be frightened of a nipping puppy or a kitten’s sharp claws. Be certain that your children have had enough exposure to animals for you to assess whether or not they are ready to live with one. New pets come with new rules - the chaotic holiday season is probably not the best time for rolling out a new set of expectations. Make sure your children are not allergic to pet hair or dander before considering adding a pet to your family. Most importantly, be sure you are ready to care for the new pet yourself, and that *your* lifestyle is compatible with a new pet. While bringing home a pet is a great opportunity to teach kids responsibility, prepare for the worst case scenario of having to pick up their slack, just in case.
If this all sounds like a lot to think about, well...it is. The busy holiday season may not be the best time to do a lifestyle assessment, and help a new pet acclimate. It is always our recommendation to add a pet to the family either before or after the holiday hustle and bustle. For the next few weeks, we’ll discuss how to pick the right pet for you.