Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Surprise Pup for Holidays Is a Bad Idea

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Surprise Pup for Holidays Is a Bad Idea

Article excerpt

ALL ABOUT DOGS

Question: My wife and I are toying with the notion of getting our kids a dog for Christmas. What do you think about this idea?

Answer: While I understand the romantic idea of getting your children a dog for Christmas, it really is a galactically bad idea. Sorry, it's not because I don't love dogs or understand how they enrich our lives. (I do.) But timing is everything, and a surprise pup for Christmas for anyone, your kids, your mom, your girlfriend has a number of built in pitfalls.

First of all, good dogs are usually unavailable for holiday giving. Reputable breeders don't want their dogs to end up in households where nobody understands the work involved in raising them, so puppies that are readily available at Christmas generally are the kind you probably don't want. Puppy mills grind out thousands of puppies to meet the holiday demand. You'll find these dogs in pet stores and malls. Of course they're "cute". (All puppies are cute!) But often these dogs are inbred, poorly socialized, and prone to genetic health problems such as allergies or bad hips, or with behavioral difficulties such as compulsive barking or chewing. Experienced rescue group volunteers and shelter workers hate the whole idea of the "Christmas dog" because they know many of those animals will be coming back to them.

A puppy who makes its first appearance as a gift item at Christmas, is more likely to be thought of by children as an "object" instead of a family member. This is simply the wrong message. In my opinion, our children need to learn that a live puppy is being adopted into the family as a living family member who will contribute much, but who will also have needs of its own, which the family is making a commitment to meet.

One of the most valuable lessons children learn from a puppy is respect for living beings and concern for others in the form of attention to their needs. …

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