Why is a puppy not for Christmas?
‘’A dog is for life not just for Christmas’’ was coined in 1978 by Clarissa Baldwin, then Chief Executive of The National Canine Defence League, which later became The Dogs Trust. It was done in response to the huge numbers of animals being surrendered to shelters in the weeks following the Christmas holidays.
It was a very successful campaign but at this time of year, it’s worth reiterating just why gifting a puppy or kitten for Christmas is so fraught with disaster.
I love the hectic build up to the holiday season, but it is just that, hectic.
Planning to bring home the most suitable pet for your family takes time and careful consideration of breeds, costs and scheduling, and trying to do these things whilst decorating trees, buying gifts and preparing menus is an impossible task.
Christmas can also be a very expensive time of year for households and adding the purchase costs of a new puppy or kitten, their required check-ups and vaccinations, spaying or neutering, bedding, kennel, toys, grooming and so on may be more than the already stretched budget can allow.
Not to mention any unforeseen emergencies which, believe me, do often happen with young animals and sparkly tinsel.
Your new fur bundle of joy will need a great deal of attention and training in the early, impressionable weeks.
Routine and plenty of quality sleep time does not fit well with visiting family and friends and Christmas parties.
Nor does leaving him home whilst you go out help his training and family bonding during this critical learning period.
Puppies and kittens need an appropriate diet but with all the wonderfully aromatic ‘people food’ everywhere it will be difficult to get them to settle on their own diets and not be distracted by everything else.
As much as you ask your guests not to feed the puppy turkey under the table, they inevitably will, leaving you to clean up the vomit and diarrhoea as a parting gift.
As a side note here, for my dog owners, that thin layer of wrapping paper over the deliciously tempting chocolates and cookies under the tree does nothing to deter the acute nasal abilities of our canine companions who will absolutely sniff out and gratefully eat your carefully wrapped offerings, gifting you in return a trip to the emergency vet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
That intense period of the Christmas break with all the fun and laughter filling the home will be in stark contrast to the silent house for your pup when the holidays are over, and everyone goes back to work and school.
These are not good foundations on which to build a successful owner-dog bond and separation anxiety in our pets is a difficult one to manage.
It certainly doesn’t mean you can’t give the idea of a pet at Christmas, but just be sensible and wrap up a cuddly toy puppy or kitten with a promise to go to the shelter - once the hurly-burly of Christmas has passed.
Your new pet will be just as adorable and much more manageable when you have the time to really focus on them.
Wishing you, your families and furbabies a wonderful Holiday season from us all at CedarTree Vets.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda