Read this before you do...
A kitten or puppy as a holiday gift...
There is a right way and a wrong
way to give a pet as a gift. Unfortunately, most people
choose the wrong way.
We have a glorified notion of a cute
puppy or kitten under a Christmas tree, a big red
bow around its neck, waiting for the excited boy or
girl to find the little darling under the tree. This
is such a pervasive sentiment of the holidays that
it's common to see this scene again in again in holiday-themed
television commercials, cards, and drawings.
What will happen to the puppy or
kitten when the excitement of the holidays is over
and the puppy is chewing the leg of the dining room
chair, or the kitten is using the couch as a scratching
post? The child who was initially thrilled with the
pet isn't paying as much attention to the animal,
with so many things competing for limited attention
spans. Mom and Dad are now having to face the realities
of pet ownership (don't count on young children to
take primary responsibility; although a few do, most
are happy to play with the animal but don't want any
part of the 'yucky' or inconvenient parts). Housebreaking
a puppy and walking it is time consuming. Some dogs
and cats have strict grooming requirements. Too many
times, even expensive animals bought from breeders
and pet stores end up showing up in shelters when
the family finds themselves unprepared for the commitment
of time, resources, and energy having a pet requires.
Or, perhaps you've gotten a fluffy
Persian kitten for your Aunt Jane, and it turns out
you misinterpreted her wishes and she doesn't want
a cat after all. She's planning to spend the next
two months with your cousin, several hundred miles
away. Or she finds that grooming a Persian every day
is too much work. Or she wanted a Siamese, not a Persian.
What seemed like a good idea becomes a real situation,
with a young animal trapped in the middle.
And what is puppy or kitten thinking,
sitting under that tree? It doesn't know what is happening.
The house is unfamiliar and strange. There are lots
of people around the animal doesn't know. It's busy
and noisy. It got slapped for finding that shiny Christmas
ball and playing with it; it didn't know it wasn't
a toy. The holidays can be extremely stressful for
pets under any circumstances, with the strange decorations
and holiday bustle, but it's much more stressful for
a young animal uprooted from familiar surroundings
and thrust in the middle of the chaos.
Working with responsible breeders
A responsible breeder will not ever
sell a puppy or kitten to be given as a gift. The
reason is that the breeder will want to meet the person
who will assume primary responsibility for the animal's
day to day care and know it is going to a home where
it is wanted. They want to be sure the person understands
the commitment of pet ownership. A pet animal should
have a safe, loving home for its entire life. For
dogs and cats, this lifespan can possibly range from
ten to twenty-five years, depending on the breed.
How you CAN "give a pet"
as a gift!
The person who will be responsible
for the pet should have a pivotal role in choosing
a breeder and pet animal. There is a way you can
give this joy to a person as a holiday gift. It just
takes a little creativity.
If you are sure your recipient would
want a particular breed, make an appointment with
a breeder or two in your area you would want to work
with. Make sure it's at least a couple weeks after
the holidays, so that you can be sure the breeder
will have his or her own holiday obligations out of
the way. The appointment should be an opportunity
for you to take your family or the person receiving
the animal gift to visit the kennel or cattery in
person. (You might wish to make two appointments --
one to preview the cattery or kennel yourself so you
can be sure you are dealing with a quality operation).
Get a pretty card and write out a
"gift certificate" -- that this certificate
is good for a puppy or kitten of the recipient's choice.
Include the name, phone number, and time of the kennel
or cattery appointment for a visit (or the name, address,
and office hours of an animal shelter if you are going
to acquire your animal from one). Buy a stuffed dog
or cat (you might even find one that resembles the
breed!), and tie the "gift certificate"
around the stuffed animal's neck. Put the stuffed
animal under the tree instead of a live animal. (You
might wrap it together with a general dog or cat care
book. Even if the recipient has owned dogs
or cats all of his or her life, these are great books
and a good addition to any pet library).
People who are involved in the process
of choosing their dream pet are more attached to the
animal and more invested in its future. Besides, it's
important to find an animal who "clicks"
with the primary caretaker.
This method can actually be more
fun than placing an animal under the tree -- and it's
far more humane to the pet.
free to link this article to your own web page with
proper authorship citation (Barbara French, Fanciers
Breeder Referral List).
The URL is http://www.breedlist.com/faq/gift.html
Return to the FBRL main page