If you are thinking about getting a dog soon, then you probably agree that dogs can be the best pets! We love how they can be our best, most non-judgmental friends. They are happy, loyal, and comforting. They live in the moment! We may also realize they can sometimes drive us crazy. They steal food, chew our papers, furniture and clothes, and can create huge messes.
With the holidays approaching, some of us are considering getting a dog for our special someone, the family, or for ourselves. With a dog, and most pets, there are many responsibilities we must consider first. Here are the top 5 things to consider before getting a dog for Christmas:
1. Readiness and Timing: Are the people in your household ready to have a dog? Are you planning a relaxing “staycation” this year, giving you time to integrate the dog into your household, or will it be an unusually busy and chaotic Christmas season? Many dogs would find the noise, chaos, and crowds at Christmas overwhelming and scary. Is your property ready? Make sure your yard is secure to prevent a dog from wandering off or running away from noisy human party animals!
A starter kit is an option! If you are busy, but ready in most other ways, consider putting a dog starter kit under the tree. You could buy a dog bed, water and food dishes, some treats, and a stuffed dog to act as a stand-in for now, and a chew toy for later. Add a gift certificate to a local animal rescue agency too! A puppy starter kit lets you surprise your family while starting an important conversation about responsible pet ownership and can encourage them to be involved with the planning needed to ensure a smooth transition for all.
2. Commitment: Who will be primarily responsible? It’s fun to imagine seeing the joy on your child’s face with the happy surprise of meeting a new frolicking, fun-loving dog or puppy on Christmas morning. Kids and teens grow up, get distracted, move out, or straight up forget about their responsibilities. The fact is, many parents end up being the primary caretaker of pets. A dog is a lifetime commitment, and many live up to 14 years or more! Puppies require even more time and patience as they learn and grow.
3. A good match: Consider the size, age, breed, and activity level of the dog you are thinking about adopting. If you are very active, then walking a dog at least twice a day may be easy for you. If not, maybe you could consider adopting a dog that is less active, older, or maybe even a dog with a physical disability. All dogs require a lot of attention. They are pack animals, and we become their pack. If you can, maybe consider adopting two dogs, so that they can be in a pack that includes other canines!
4. Finances: Pets can be very expensive! Consider the cost for food, regular vaccinations, unexpected and emergency vet bills, toys and bedding, leashes and harnesses, training, walking and boarding for the next 10 to 14 years. Don’t forget that dogs eat and chew just about anything, don’t be surprised if you find a couple hundred-dollar bills in the dog poop you have to pick up.
5. Where to go: Adopting from a “kill” shelter is a relatively simple process, while adopting from a rescue organization may take longer, and be slightly more expensive. If you are considering adopting a dog with special needs, learn about the pros and cons of adopting a handicapped pet. Be sure to discuss all the options with everyone in your household. If you need help with resources, adoptapet.com can help you find a pet online.
If you indeed have the patience to deal with a family member who may always have the rambunctiousness of a two year old, then you might consider adopting TWO already bonded dogs from a local shelter!
Considering your options carefully is always a good idea. Although Fido’s rambunctiousness will likely lead to certain trying moments, dogs bring far more joy into our lives than the trials and tribulations that are an inevitable part of this journey. Their loyal loving and fun loving spirits make it all worth it.
As visions of sugarplums dance in our heads, visions of chewing the favorite winter slippers of their beloved Master in his/her forever home certainly dances in the hearts and minds of many shelter dogs this season. Welcoming one (or more!) into your home will bring lasting joy for all!
Rescue Express is proud to work with hundreds of shelters and rescues across various states who work very hard to find animals loving homes. Please consider adopting a pet rather than shopping this season, every animal deserves a second chance at life. Happy Holidays!
Author: Naomi Valenzuela, a Rescue Express volunteer