Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dogs as Gifts

There may be nothing cuter than a puppy wrapped up in a bow and presented to you as a gift...BUT, there are a few things to consider before going out on a whim and buying someone a puppy.
I have personally had two experiences with giving/receiving a puppy as a gift. One time worked out great, the other not so much. Here are both experiences:
My mother's friend had been wanting a dog for months, so when his birthday rolled around, what better gift? He had never owned a dog before, so we went with an 'easier' breed, the Labrador Retriever. My mother picked out a sweet girl who was later named Stella. Now the person we were giving this puppy to was a responsible single adult with plenty of time on his hands and a willingness to learn about dogs. As you can imagine dog and owner fell in love and they are still living happily ever after. BUT, it does not always end this way, and if I were to take a guess, I would say that the majority of dogs given as gifts are given away/discarded by the age of two. Even if the dog is kept, is it in the best living conditions or only given the absolute necessities? Which brings me to my second experience.
Christmas two years ago, my dad decided to get a puppy for the kids for Christmas. They already had a Pomeranian who was well loved and taken care of, but she is an exceptionally easy dog. What my dad wasn't expecting (but he would have been if he were well educated and read my blog!) was the amount of a work a stereotypical puppy would be. This newcomer was loved by the kids for about a month before the novelty wore off. My dad was faced with a dog that screamed, and I mean screamed, in her crate, urinated and defecated all over the house, chewed everything in reach, and bit your fingers every time you went to pet her. On top of the common puppy issues he had to face, they were in a money crisis, and still to this day have not had her spayed or even updated on her shots. There is also the small problem that her and the other Pomeranian do not get along. Now, I have to give my dad some credit for making it through the rough puppy stage and not getting rid of the dog, but like most people who get puppies for gifts (especially gifts for their kids) he did not think through the responsibility of having another dog.

Lilly, the Christmas gift

This brings me to my list of reasons why is can be a very bad idea to give a puppy as a pet. 
  1. Picking the right dog for you and your family is a very personal and emotional experience. Compare getting a puppy for someone to getting a house or wedding dress for someone. You would not pick a house for your friend, because the two may not be compatible. It is the same with dogs, that emotional bond between dog and owner is something only they can pick out. 
  2. Dogs as gifts during the holidays is extremely stressful for the dog. There is a lot of chaos going on during that time, and after the initial surprise of the puppy, people will have little time to deal with the responsibility it brings.
  3. People who get dogs as gifts often do not think of the time and money it takes to properly raise a puppy, only to realized the responsibility too late. 
  4. There is an abundance of homeless dogs under the age of two at shelters. Buying puppies only adds to this problem, it is best to get a gift certificate to an animal shelter and letting someone pick out and adopt their dog. 
  5. More dogs than you may think between the ages of 7 and 14 months are brought to the Vet to be euthanized because they were not trained properly and developed behavior problems. Most puppies do not live past the age of two, either because they are euthanized by owners, hit by cars, injured in fights or taken to the shelter.
While yes, getting a puppy as a gift can work out on occasions, it is not ideal nor very smart for both dog and owner. Once the novelty of a new puppy goes away, you may realize you don't have enough time, money, knowledge or passion to raise a dog. By then it will be too late.

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