Christmas. And, on the one hand, there are daily posts from animal welfare pages, with photos of shelter dogs dressed up and captions hoping for them to spend Christmas at home this year, and on the other hand, volunteers get dozens of calls per day by people asking for a puppy for their kids.
There is something wrong with that picture, and as usual, animals pay the price.
Should you adopt a puppy for Christmas?
No. Well, I mean, not necessarily for Christmas. The truth is that dogs could care less about Christmas, New Year’s Eve and any holiday whatsoever. It’s not that they’re in their kennel, all sad and depressed, thinking: “I want to spend Christmas at home this year” – most of them don’t even know what a home is anyway.
If you are considering adoption, adopt. Period. Christmas has nothing to do with it – and you should be careful with New Year’s resolutions too, because a puppy, is not like a new diet you promise to yourself will start on January 1rst and you know very well it will only last a couple of weeks. A dog is for life, and since holidays tend to turn all of us a bit more emotional, adopting a dog should not be an emotional choice, but a responsible one.
Should I get a puppy for my kids?
What? No? No, absolutely not. You shouldn’t let them have anything they want anyway – responsible parenting is not about making favors all the time. Kids want a different thing every other month, and a puppy is tempting when you see it dressed up in Christmas posters, but the truth is far from what you imagine – and definitely far far far from what a 6 year old imagines.
Apart from the shit, the pee, the damages and the rest of the stuff that comes in the “puppy package”, puppies eventually grow up – and they grow up very fast. Sooner than you can imagine, they stop being “aww so cute” and become adult dogs that need, house training, daily exercise, a steady routine, good food, medical care – and they will be needing all that for the next 15 years to come.
You should only adopt a puppy if you, the parent, are mature enough to know that, apart from the kids you already have, you will be responsible for caring for one more soul depending on you for the next 15 years to come. A puppy is not like the doll you daughter got as a Christmas present last year, and then grew tired of her a few months later. Adopting a dog is a lifetime responsibility.
I am responsible
Good for you. But shelter volunteers don’t see people who come one morning and ask for a puppy for their kids as responsible, in fact they see them as the zenith of irresponsibility. So if you and your family consider yourselves to be responsible enough, visit a shelter and let the volunteers get to know you. Talk to them about your life and your daily routine, about your hobbies and about what you like or not.
The puppy you had picked from that “aww so cute” photo might not be the ideal candidate for you. In fact, no puppy might be ideal for you. An adult dog might be a better option, for you and for your kids. Most of us involved in adoption don’t just want to get rid of the dogs, and there is no such thing as “better in a home than in the shelter”. What we want is to find the right family for each dog and the right dog for each family.
Spontaneous decisions, choices based on age, looks and breed, and puppies as presents for kids usually have the same outcome: dogs being returned to shelters, or dumped on the streets. It is never the dogs’ fault, but it is 100% yours.
So if you consider yourself to be responsible, act like it.