Sunday, November 9, 2008

Raining on the Christmas parade

December is fast approaching (where has that first week of November gone?) and if you're anything like me and love to get into the spirit of the season early, you're already busting out the Christmas CDs (because it just isn't Christmas without Karen Carpenter), laying into the holiday shortbread cookies, and cursing heartily at the radio every time it plays that godawful 'Christmas Shoes' song. You know, the one about the juvenile con artist hitting up innocent stores on Christmas Eve with a list of merch his probably drunk and unemployed mother sent him out with. ("An' after you git mommy's shoes, fetch a little sumthin' fer yourself, too. Tell the toy store ya brother's in the ICU on Christmas.") No offense if you're one of the people who actually cry at this song. We are simply on different wavelengths, you and I.

If you're planning on getting your little one a puppy for Christmas, you're cooler than my parents were and probably love your kids more. Hats off.

But have you done all that THINKING AHEAD?

Many many sources - most notably, pet rescues and shelters and other organizations in that vein - will tell you that Christmas puppies are a bad idea. It sure seems great. You know that classic scene where the kids rush downstairs in the morning and find puppy in a basket with a little red ribbon around his neck. Aww. But in the weeks to follow, reality is one harsh mother.

First off, it shouldn't surprise most of you that the majority of Christmas puppies come from puppy mills. Reputable breeders may have a waitlist, or might not even sell Christmas pups at all. To get the timing just right, people tend to turn to those who market to the masses ... petstores and puppy mills. It helps that those pups often come cheaper, too - but trust me, a couple hundred bucks more now is way better than thousands of dollars in vet bills when your dog's poor health starts showing. There are countless people who will tell you all about their petstore puppy woes, and the month after Christmas is the last time you want to be paying vet bills on top of everything else.

Secondly, this is a big decision! Refer to the post below if you want the whole spiel. A puppy is another family member, not a toy to be played with and then cast aside. And the sad truth is, plenty of Christmas puppies end up in shelters after the holidays. I like this article best because it includes other details, like why the bustling atmosphere of Christmas Day makes it the worst possible time to introduce a puppy to the family. (However, this one has some good advice if you want to ignore the friendly faceless blogger and go ahead with it anyway.)*

Are you sure your child even wants a dog? - or are you getting it because you want the dog, or because you think your kid should have the experience? Or if they do want the dog, do they have realistic expectations when it comes to caring for it? Do you realize that you'll most likely be the one who has to walk the dog every frosty morning and feed it? Are you okay with that? Do you know that winter may not be ideal for adopting a puppy, seeing as some of them may prefer to do their business on a nice warm carpet rather than out in the chilly yard? Oh, the questions you must ask yourself.

Personally, I'd wrap up a few doggy knick-knacks like a leash and and dishes - much easier to return, just in case, than a puppy - and let the kid draw her own conclusions. Then she can pick out her own best friend once the holidays are over and things have gone from 'manic rush' back to relaxed. And it would be great if you can nudge her in the direction of a shelter: there are plenty of kids out there who'd be happy to open their hearts to a homeless dog, if you explain the idea to them. Hey, you might even end up with someone else's discarded puppy, and give the little guy a second chance at finding his forever home.

I'm such a Linus. I gotta stop preaching and come up with some happier posts!

*If I were a sex-ed teacher, I wouldn't be the sort to advocate abstinence only and then pass around the chastity belts. You know some of those kids are gonna be doing it anyway, so you may as well make sure they're armed with condoms and the right kind of knowledge, says I.


GoLightly said...

No, you are not a Linus:)
Telling the truth is always a good thing...
Now, if you were channeling Lucy, that would be different...
Great post
Commented, and feeling kinda lonely, and out.
Wish I knew my dumb neighbours' e-addy, boy would I send him your link!

muttpuppiesontrial said...

Hehe, thanks GL. :)

Don't it just suck how the people who need to hear these things most hardly ever read the right blogs!