No Pets As Gifts

Can’t think of the perfect gift for your animal-loving friend or family member? How about a new cat or dog? How about, no way! Pets should be chosen by the recipient, when they are ready to adopt one. Dogs and cats are not objects that can be gift-wrapped, and handed over to someone.

Giving a dog or cat to a child in the same manner you would give a book or a doll can give them the wrong idea about that animal’s worth. While other gifts may be returned or exchanged if they are not right, a pet is not a toy, not an article of clothing or decorative object. Toys are often forgotten in the weeks after the holiday, things are misplaced. It’s fine to buy a dog or cat for your child, but make it a family event, and do not tell the child it is a “gift”.

The person you want to give an animal to has to be ready to make a commitment to the care of that animal. The potential new owner should be able to choose the animal that they are going to commit themselves to. An animal is a living, feeling creature, and cannot be abandoned when one gets bored of it. All too often the attraction fades as the adorable puppy or kitten grows into an adult animal.

Rather than purchase the animal outright, why not come up with a creative way to help the person with the choice and/or purchase of his new pet? For example, you can give any of the necessary and useful accessories and gear that the new pet owner will need.

Create or purchase a gift certificate to an animal shelter, rescue group or breeder. Be sure the person truly wants an animal before giving a gift certificate, as they may not be refundable. Offer to take your friend to one of these places if transportation is an issue.

Other ideas could include gift certificates to training classes, groomers or veterinarians. Give gifts of books or videos. If the pet is to be for the family, wrap up a stuffed version, with a card that promises an outing to your local shelter on a date after the holidays.

Unless you are planning a very quiet one, holidays are not the best time to bring a new pet into the home. There is usually a lot of activity in the home, and stress levels may be high. It is difficult to give the pet the attention it needs. There may be more noise and people in the house than usual, which can be stressful and confusing for the animal.

Doors may be opening often, and a frightened animal could easily escape. There also may be additional hazards in the house, such as Christmas trees and decorations, ribbon bedecked packages, lit candles and an abundance of food on counters and tables. After the holidays, when there are two to three quiet days with at least one person home all day is the best time to get your new pet. If your new pet is a puppy, it will need to be housebroken. That will be much easier if you can be giving the dog your total attention. You also have a better chance of bonding with your new friend if there aren’t a lot of other distractions for both of you.

Getting a pet is an exciting event, but since anticipation can be just as sweet, the promise of the gift to come will be just as welcome.

Elyse Grau has written many articles on pet health and care. She was a pet-care columnist for her local paper. See her website Pet Health Resource for more information on caring for your dog.

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