Should You Give Pets as Holiday Gifts?
You’re finally settled in your new home, and the holidays are right around the corner. You’re making a list and checking it twice, trying to come up with the nicest gift for everyone on your list. If you’re like many new homeowners, you’re eager to add the perfect touch to the festivities coming your way. You’re so excited about the upcoming celebrations in your new home that you want to be the ultimate Santa for everyone – including a pet that needs a new forever home.
Countless movies and TV programs have shown excited children picking up a puppy or kitten with a big red bow around its neck, shouting “It’s all I ever wanted!” It’s enough to make you believe that the ideal gift for your children (or your significant other) is a new pet. However, there’s more to choosing the right pet for your family than a red bow and certain date on the calendar. The “gift guides” at Ernest Homes bring you some reasons why it’s best to pass on a new pet for the holidays.
Piling on the Stress
Holiday time is a crazy time for your entire family. With so much going on, tempers can flare, tantrums can rage, and everyone is on edge. A new pet will feel the tension too – he or she is in a mysterious environment, surrounded by strange people, odd smells and lots of noise. A new pet should have a few days to slowly acclimate to this major change, which is certain to be impossible during the holidays.
Your tinsel, ornaments and holiday plants can be a minefield for curious young pets. Lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe and even needles from your tree can be dangerous if they end up in your pet’s mouth. Candles are a fiery temptation, wires can be deadly, and stagnant tree water can upset their stomachs if they decide to take a drink.
Pets Are People Too
Children, especially young ones, have the tendency to treat a new pet like a toy, rather than a living being. They may treat the animal roughly without realizing they’re doing it, or tease it into a frenzy, potentially causing accidents or injury. You can’t leave a pet alone with your children until you’re sure they have developed a mutual respect for each other and can interact safely at all times.
Responsibility is Key
Even if your kids have been begging for a pet, it’s almost certain they don’t realize how much work it will be. Taking care of feeding time, walking a dog, scooping a cat box and other daily tasks can soon become tiresome for children if they aren’t ready to handle them. If you don’t want to end up with a four-legged child on your hands, it’s important to make sure your kids are mature enough to help with caregiving before adopting a pet.
There’s a very special bond that needs to develop between pets and their owners. For many, that “love affair” starts with a pet that isn’t what you originally had in mind. Dan’s story is a classic case. “My wife and I wanted to get our ten year old daughter a puppy, and we knew she was ready to help care for it. She’d been talking about “her dog” for months before we arranged for a visit to a local animal shelter. As soon as we walked through the door, she noticed a gorgeous tabby cat without a tail sitting in a cat tree, observing everyone coming and going. She immediately went over to the cat and started talking to it. The cat watched her for a minute or two, stood, stretched, and put its paw out – with claws in – and tapped her on the shoulder gently. The lady behind the desk said -”I think he likes you. You can pet him. He’s very friendly.” Our daughter petted the cat for a good ten minutes before we walked away to look at puppies. After a half hour or so, we noticed the cat had begun to follow us around the shelter, watching our every move. Our daughter noticed it too. She turned to the young woman helping us with the puppies and asked, “Is he looking for a home too?” When our guide said he was, our daughter shocked us by asking “Can I get a cat instead?” And that’s how we ended up with Waldo. We didn’t find him…he found us.”
Personal chemistry is why everyone needs to be involved in the decision-making process when you’re looking for a new family member. This is especially true when you’re giving an animal to an adult, who certainly has definite preferences when it comes to their pet.
If You Still Want to Give a Pet…
Give a pet “gift certificate” that can be redeemed after the holidays. Wrap up a set of feeding dishes, some toys or care products with a big red bow instead. There’s no better way to beat the mid-winter blues than going out together as a family to find your perfect pet!