Little Tommy pulls the ribbon. He’s tentative, curious: did the box just move? Did he hear something in there? He pulls the lid off, and an excited Golden Retriever puppy pokes his head out of the top, his baby eyes half-closed. Tommy squeals with delight; he gently lifts the small bundle of fur out of the red-and-green package and holds it to his face for his first puppy kiss underneath the Christmas tree.
You can see it already, right? But what do you see in the coming months? What do you see next Christmas? What do you see when little Tommy gets bored with it, the same way he’s gotten bored with every Christmas present you’ve ever gotten him?
Don’t buy a puppy for Christmas. Never buy a puppy for Christmas. No matter how much little Tommy wants it; no matter how much you think he’s ready for it. Even if you know your family can handle a new addition, even if you’ve been thinking about it for months, wait until the mind-altering magic of the Holiday Season has subsided before you bring home a new dog.
Don’t end up as the family who decides they don’t want their Christmas puppy anymore. Don’t end up as the family who brings their puppy to the animal shelter to die in February because back in December they didn’t realize that it was a living, breathing, eating, peeing, pooping thing that needs hours of attention every day. Don’t turn that cute little Golden Retriever into another awful Christmas statistic.
Here are some of the main reasons people buy puppies for Christmas, and some alternative ideas that could save you a lot of stress… and save an innocent puppy its life.
Your reason:”I think little Tommy is responsible enough for a puppy.”
Your child is growing up, and you want to reward him for his good behavior. This is natural and commendable. But what if little Tommy isn’t as responsible as he seems? Do you really want his first “responsibility test” to be something that can end in tragedy and death?
Instead of a puppy, get: your child his own computer. Or open a personal checking account in his name and put money in it. Both of these gifts show your child that you trust him and are willing to reward his responsible behavior with “adult” privileges.
Your reason:”A puppy is something the entire family can enjoy.”
Yes, but a puppy is also something the entire family can get sick of.
Instead of a puppy, get: A new television, or take the family on vacation. You don’t need a high-maintenance living thing to be the center of your family fun.
Your reason:”A puppy is so cute!”
Sure, a puppy’s cute, but so are a lot of other nice gifts. Whatever you do, don’t take this the wrong way and substitute something else cute-and-alive for a puppy: no bunnies, no baby chicks, no kittens.
Instead of a puppy, get: A cute stuffed animal. They cost less and they don’t pee on the carpet.
Your reason:”My parents got me a puppy when I was little Tommy’s age, and it was the best gift I ever got.”
Simply put, you and your parents got lucky. Don’t assume that everything will work the same way with your children.
Instead of a puppy, get: Something else you enjoyed as a child: a bicycle or a favorite board game.
Your reason:”Little Tommy really, really wants a puppy.”
I know you want to make your child’s Christmas perfect; everyone does. But a puppy is not a toy, or a videogame, or a pair of jeans. It’s a living creature. Think of it this way: if your 12-year-old daughter “really, really” wanted to have a baby, would you take her down to the artificial insemination clinic for Christmas? Of course not, and a puppy should be thought of in the exact same way.
Instead of a puppy, get: Something-anything-else that little Tommy really, really wants.
If a puppy is the only thing he wants, get him a dog training book or video about raising a puppy and tell him that you want to make sure he understands how big of a responsibility a new puppy is, and you’ll talk about it as a family after the hectic Holiday Season is over.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our dog product reviews!