Life Essentials: Pets for Holiday Gifts

A pet may seem like a wonderful holiday gift. But if may mean you’ll be the one buying the pet food, paying the veterinary bills, and taking it for walk at 6 am on dark rainy mornings for years to come.

Depending on whether you’re in the right stage in your life, and have a big enough heart (not to mention a big enough home!), buying a pet for a holiday gift can be a great addition to your family, whether you have kids in your home or not. If you’re thinking about giving a pet to your family for the Holidays, read on.

Sarah on “Dog, Cat, or Maybe Just a Fish”

“Every home isn’t ready for a puppy, which needs a fair amount of attention, involving walks, potty training, walks, obedience training, and more walks. Cats are a much less demanding, and, after being properly taught how to use a litter box, are happy to laze around while you’re not at home (and maybe even ignore you when you actually are home.) But even cats need a certain amount of attention and care. One way to break your children in to the responsibility of having a pet is to start small, in my case it was a fish tank, so they learn what it is to care for something, feeding it regularly, and checking on the cleanliness of its tank. Only after graduating from the fish, was I declared ready for something fuzzier, a cat named “George,” who I ended up caring for and loving for years and years.”

Alicia on “Where to Get Your Pet: Shelter vs. Breeder”

“Once you’ve decided you are going to give a pet as a gift, the next step is where you’re going to get it. Your two main choices, specifically if you’re looking for a dog, are from a shelter or from a breeder. They are two very different options, with two very different price ranges. Nowadays, shelters are the preferred adoption center of choice. They always have a wide variety of pets to choose from, and you’re doing a great thing by rescuing a pet that doesn’t have a home. It’s usually inexpensive as well, with a “donation” to the shelter the only fee you need to pay. Breeders, on the other hand, charge a fair amount, for a dog, sometimes upwards of $1000. Unfortunately, there are fair number of bad breeders out there, so be sure to do your homework and ask breeders for past references.”

A few quick thoughts before putting a ribbon on that holiday pet.

#1: Pick an Appropriately Aged Pet

While kids are clamoring for puppies and kittens, for some families getting an older, pre-trained dog or cat is a better choice. If you’re adopting from a shelter, just make sure that you find out the history and behavior of whatever animal you’re interested in. While many pets are left at shelters in great shape, many others are either too hyper, need too much space, or other bad habits.

#2: Pick the Appropriate Breed

Before buying a pet, talk to other pet owners about the breeds they have and read up on the breeds you’re interested in. Each breed of dog and cat is different, having been developed for specific functions and, thus, their personality and traits may not match your lifestyle. And always remember, puppies aren’t always puppies. Sometimes, they grow up to be 200 lb. Bull Mastiffs.

#3: Assigning Responsibility

The rush of getting a pet as a present is one that children never forget. Unfortunately, the actual pet, and the responsibility of caring for it, is something that can quickly fade into the background. It’s important for kids to understand everything that comes with having a pet, so sometime soon after giving your furry gift, set up a list of duties, from feeding, to walks, to baths, that everyone needs to pitch in doing to keep the pet, and the family, happy.