Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Pet For a Christmas Gift?

A Pet For a Christmas Gift?
December 8, 2011
By Julie Kay Smithson
Christmas is fast approaching, and people are shopping for pets for Christmas presents.
They are swarming the pet stores, and unless they're adopting a shelter pet from PetSmart, they're probably looking at a puppymill puppy, which likely will have health issues (due to puppymill "breeding") that will arise later in life.
"Purebred" doesn't mean "healthy."
"Wanting" a pet and being READY and ABLE to provide a pet with a great home and life, are NOT synonymous.
I may "want" a Hummer or F-350 crewcab diesel dually, but I cannot afford to fill up the fuel tank of either, or buy tires for either, or buy full insurance coverage, so I have no business GETTING either.
With a pet, the difference is even more pronounced.
It will mean whether that new pet you WANT, will get a home -- for the duration of its LIFETIME -- that is happy and healthy for it, or NOT. It is sobering and very sad, to think that people are turning in their pets -- or even worse, DUMPING THEM -- because of a laundry list of "reasons," very few of which have actual merit.
If you buy a St. Bernard or other large breed puppy, don't think it's okay to get rid of it by whatever means you deem "all right" because the puppy grows up to be a BIG DOG. If you buy a breed of dog that's known to be a barker, don't consider it a valid excuse for disposing of your loud pet.
If you have a job (or go to school, or have a houseful of young children), consider, PLEASE! how much actual time you'll have for your potential new pet. Pets are family members, too, and should receive comparable time and care.
No, they're not children -- but they have even more needs than children, because they cannot run away from home when things are tough. They cannot phone a friend to commiserate when their people are fighting and screaming at each other. They don't understand marital or other breakups, yet they often pay a terrible price for the discord they did not initiate.
Many times, buying a stuffed animal for a present is doing the real thing a favor.
What really gets to me, though, are the dogs that are kept outside during all weather and are ill-suited for it (example: a very short-haired dog outside when it's cold, or a very long-haired dog outside when it's terribly hot), with invisible 'owners' who appear to have lots of cares -- but care and love for their dog/dogs isn't one of them. Why have a dog if you're not interested in playing with it, walking it, loving it, and being around it?
I'm not judging folks whose animals are properly sheltered outside, but get to spend time with their people, either inside the home or outside on park trails, etc.
"Absentee parents" is a phrase that can also apply to pets, and far too often, does. Pets can't open the door to come inside when the weather is bad, nor can they open the door to go outside when they need to go potty.
Christmas is a time of year when getting an animal should not be a gift. It is a serious responsibility -- not something that can be fed / watered / cared for whenever the person happens to think of it! Please, adopt your next pet, but do so AFTER committing to take the best possible care of it. We're talking about a living, breathing creature with a heart and soul, needs and wants! Also, hoping people will steer clear of pet stores that market puppymill puppies. PetSmart offers shelter pets to adopt, God bless them!