This (Black) Friday, millions of shoppers will descend upon brick-and-mortar and Internet retailers, all in pursuit of the perfect gift at the right prices. Right or wrong, theres no question that this is a season for consumerism at its best, characterized by lavish gifts.
This holiday season, Id like to share with you my Christmas wish for dogs: Dont buy your friends, family member, or significant other a dog or puppy for the holidays. A recent article from the Huffington Post summarizes the results of a recent AP poll on dog ownership. Approximately 40 percent of respondents said that at least one of their current pets was given to them as a gift.
Pets as gifts are rarely a good idea, even if you know your daughter, husband, best friend, sister, or grandmother loves dogs. Here are some of the problems with giving pets as gifts:
1. Lack of choice. Selecting the right dog for your family is part of the fun of obtaining a new dog or puppy, and choosing responsibly is a critical part of the decision. Research a wide variety of breeds to find a good match, and make sure all the household members discuss your potential pet’s temperament, size, health issues, grooming requirements, training goals, and exercise needs. You should do at least as much homework as you would to select a new car or home â€” after all, this animal will be in your life for at least a decade.
2. Holidays are a stressful time â€” for people and dogs. It’s much better to wait until things calm down in the new year, so that you have more time to dedicate to raising your puppy well, or helping your older adopted dog adjust to and thrive in your home
3. Beware the gift of investments. Imagine telling someone, I purchased you a college education! for Christmas, when in fact you only bought them textbooks for their first semester. It’s absurd! Just as books are not the bulk of the cost of a college education, the initial expense of a dog is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to costs associated with lifetime pet ownership.
The ASPCA estimates that it costs $1,843 to raise a large breed dog throughout its first year of life. I almost fell off my chair when I read this. Having just finished a year of raising a Saint Bernard puppy, I can tell you that our costs far exceeded this. I had to buy a bigger vehicle when I decided to become a Saint mom, so tack on multiple thousands of dollars for the cost of more gas and a van, if you want a big dog. The costs of pet ownership will vary with geographic region, quality of nutrition, and the amount of training you give to the dog.
Owning a dog over its lifetime is an expense measured in tens of thousands of dollars. Hey, Merry Christmas, right?
4. Dogs are animals and deserve to be treated with respect. Almost all pets given as gifts are obtained from unethical sources like puppy brokers, mills, and backyard breeders. How do I know this? Because truly responsible breeders (diamonds in the rough!) and good rescue or shelter organizations will not just send any dog to any home; they want to send every dog to the right home, which means screening individual dogs and adopters to ensure the best possible matches.
Starting next week, well talk about some great holiday gifts for dog lovers, dogs, and for friends and family who may be interested in getting a dog, but are not yet ready to take the leap into dog ownership.
Until then, Happy Thanksgiving, Dogsters!