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Almost every child dreams about having a dog. After all, the dog is known to be man’s best friend. Dogs are great companions for everyone in a family, especially children. But is this a reason to get a dog for Christmas? Should we satisfy our child’s wish, just because the dog looks so adorable?
What to Know Before You Bring a Dog Home This Christmas:
Is Christmas the Best Time to Get a Dog?
Ideally, a dog should not be introduced to his/her new family and surroundings during the busy holiday season. An increased number of visitors and phone calls, coupled with Christmas lights and decorations, can have a very negative impact on your new dog.
Sometimes this may cause a behavior that will be hard to reverse. This can be especially true if a puppy gets frightened by something, or if a shelter dog with a difficult past needs quality time to learn how to trust humans again.
Bringing a new dog to your family equals years of commitment and responsibility. A dog should be introduced to his/her new environment during a quiet time, when the family can spend one-on-one time with the dog and bond without a lot of people and noise.
Remember, a dog is not a stuffed animal! Every year 7.6 million pets in the United States enter shelters, out of which 2.7 million get euthanized each year. The statistics are staggering. Healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are put down every 12 seconds in this country, and many of these dogs are Christmas puppies. Be responsible, and make sure that the dog that you adopt into your life will not become a statistic.
Finding the Best Fit for the Whole Family
Owning a dog equals a lot of responsibilities, and not every dog fits with every family. Just because he looks adorable does not mean he’s the right dog for your family and your lifestyle.
Do some research to see which breed and temperament will best fit in with your household. Before adopting, you need to analyze all the pluses and minuses. Make the decision with ALL family members present.
Are You Ready to Care for a Pet?
Think about how much time you can devote to this new, furry family member and what kind of care you can offer to the dog. When you first contact a shelter or a rescue group, make sure you are upfront with them about your environment and your preferences.
Shelter employees, or in some cases, foster families, are the ones that know the dogs best. They spend time and become familiar with each dog’s temperament, needs, and issues. They are the best people to successfully match you with a dog.
You have several adoption options. If you are looking for a specific breed, it’s a good idea to look for a rescue group that specializes in that particular breed. If you have no preference, you can adopt from a local shelter or rescue group.
Some rescue groups have a physical location, while others place their dogs with foster families. Adopting a dog from a “kill” shelter is a relatively simple process; they usually require you to fill out a one-page application, pay a fee, and then take the dog home with you the same day.
Adopting from a rescue may take longer and be slightly more expensive. Many rescues have a several step application process before you can be matched with a dog. Some of them will even do house visits to make sure your living environment fits their requirements for adopting a dog. They do all of this to make sure that once they place a dog with a family, it will be a forever family for that pet.
Do It Right!
If you are serious about owning a dog and providing him/her with a loving and safe home, don’t rush to the pet store to buy one for Christmas! Do it right, take your time, do your research, and always consider adopting from a shelter. By doing so, you are giving your new, furry friend a second chance in life. If you are considering adopting a dog with special needs, become familiar with the pros and cons by reading other Walkin’ Pets blog posts.
Dogs can be one of the biggest joys in life – family members who plant a seed of love in your heart which you will carry with you forever. Dog owners know that what you receive from the relationship with your dog outweighs all of the responsibilities that come along with dog ownership.
If you need some resources to help you find a local shelter or rescue group, here are few good ones:
Adoptapet.com is North America’s largest nonprofit pet search site that helps thousands of animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies find loving homes for homeless pets.
If you are looking to adopt from any shelter, the ASPCA site is a great resource.
Many organizations also list their dogs on a Petfinder website.
Thank you to guest author, Mira Alicki.
Mira is a jewelry designer and goldsmith for the past 22 years. Her passion for animals led her to create her own line of jewelry and online store to benefit charities. 40% of each purchase is donated back to the animal community. You can find Mira on Twitter (@FIMHjewelry) or Forever In My Heart.