The Responsible Way to Give a Pet as a Christmas Gift
A few years ago, as I was scrolling through the old Facebook feed when what did my wondering eyes did appear but the cutest puppy on the planet with big pointy ears.
My bonus-son was looking for a puppy and this little face caught my attention big time. He was at the Warrick Humane Society, so on my lunch break, I rushed down and did a meet and greet with the pup. I fell in love instantly so then my husband came to meet the pup and agreed he was just about the cutest thing on four legs. But, it wasn't up to us and we stand by our opinion that pets should not be given as surprise gifts. And, believe me it was tempting to just get him and go and deal with the consequences later.
Doing the right thing isn't always the easiest thing to do but we did what had to be done.
We called up my bonus-son and told him about the puppy. So, after a bath, the puppy had his meet-and-greet with Bailey. I wasn't there but I was waiting on pins and needles. Then, I got the call. They fell in love instantly. I knew he would! Yay! So, Jack Jack is now a part of the family.
Now, a lot of people advocate that pets are not gifts, period. But, we live in the real world and it's going to happen so let's be smart and responsible with this.
Please remember that this holiday season, pets should not be surprise gifts. If you want to buy someone a pet, please make sure that they are on board with the dog or cat you have your eye on and that they even want to be a pet parent. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a pet - from personality and looks to age and energy level. Also, there's a special connection that you just feel when it's right. It's always best to have a say-so in a long-term commitment. Now, I'm talking about adults. If you are a parent who is looking at pets for your small children - by all means, go forth. Just understand YOU will be the ones taking care of your child's pets starting the day after Christmas and for the rest of their lives!
And if you are wanting to help someone pay for a new pet, assess this situation carefully. Is this person responsible? Can they afford this pet? Proper vet care and pet maintenance are expensive. I dropped a cool $4,000 in my dog's first year of his life on bone surgeries. Say it slowly, let it sink in. Four-thoussssanddddd dollarssss. (Gut punch. I love my dog a lot.) Will this person be able to afford unforeseen issues? Will this person be a good pet parent or will they tire of the animal after a few weeks and take them back to the shelter or chuck them outside in the cold? These are real things that happen! So, be a good human...
With that said, if you want to help a loved one have a happy holiday season with a new friend there are several ways to go about doing it!
1. Set Up a Meet-and-Greet: I had a good idea what Bailey wanted in a BFF but I wasn't sure. The WHS was awesome to work with and held onto our pup so that he could meet Bailey. Any reputable animal facility encourages this so ask before diving in. We did purchase the puppy for him and all the initial expenses up front but we wanted Bailey to be happy with the puppy, so we went this route instead of surprising him.
2. Grab a Gift Card: Although most humane societies don't offer gift cards for pets, you can get a gift card at a local pet store for all the necessary items that are associated with a new pet. So far, I've bought food, a leash, toys, a collar, toys, chewies, toys, dog clothes, and more toys. You can also fund veterinary needs if you know where the pet will be vetted. Calling myself a "dog grandma" is super weird but buying lots and lots of dog toys just feels right.
3. Sponsor a Pet: If you have a friend or family member who loves animals but isn't ready to commit, consider sponsoring a pet. Even a small donation to a shelter will go a long way to help take care of homeless pets. Everyone wins!
4. Foster: Now this method requires the most work on your part. There are so many animals that need homes, lots of people foster - especially around the holidays. We fostered a dog last year and it was great giving the volunteers a break and hanging out with an older dog that hadn't been in a home for a long time. Consider fostering an animal that you think would be a good fit. Let your friend or family member spend time with the animal while it's in your care. If it doesn't work out, you've done something great fostering a pet over the holidays. If it does... that's even better!
So, have a very Meowy Christmas and a Yappy New Year!