The Christmas Gift Puppy

      Contributed by Cherri Thomson

      48 days shopping days till Christmas. Oh, how I dread this season, and it's not because I hate Christmas Shopping, but because I hate dealing with Puppy Christmas Shoppers!

      I had two calls yesterday, both from people wanting to buy a Dachshund puppy to put under the tree Christmas morning. In both cases, the recipient was an adult in another family (though related by marriage... a sister-in-law and a mother-in-law) And in both cases, the puppy was to be a surprise gift, to be picked up from its breeder on Christmas Eve, hidden away till the big moment the next morning, and brought out with the proverbial "Big Red Bow" about its tiny neck. In both cases, I spent considerable time explaining the "flaws" in this plan.

      First off, the gift of a living breathing creature with a life expectancy of 12 plus years is not a good idea. Especially if it's not a gift for someone in your very immediate family and same household. Many people assume that Mother-in-law, or Auntie, or Grandmother want a puppy because they may have talked of previous dogs they owned, or gushed over a sweet puppy seen elsewhere. BUT, what if that has just been idle chatter and the recipient really doesn't want a dog just now? It's not like the wrong sized sweater that can be put away in its wrapping till the stores open and then returned for something more suitable.

      And Christmas morning, with all its excitement, people coming and going, dinner to cook and family events is hardly the right atmosphere to bring a new puppy into for day one. A new puppy in the family is chaos enough without adding Christmas day too.

      If you think a friend or family member wants a dog for Christmas, think of other options. You can wrap up a box containing puppy pictures and a "Gift Certificate" and include a few supplies like food, lead, collar, etc. Then the recipient can visit the breeder and personally pick out the new puppy a few days after Christmas when a household is more settled and able to deal with the demands of a new puppy. If you were wrong about the recipient really wanting a puppy as a Christmas gift, then no harm is done, the pet supplies can be returned and a poor hapless puppy is not shuffled from home to home.

      Most of the Shelters have adopted a policy of no pet adoptions for Christmas gifts and for good reason. Most of them come back a few days later and are added to the pet store puppies that can't be returned.

      Like the man who called me last year. He wanted a B&T Smooth female puppy. It was 2 days before Christmas. He wanted the puppy as a gift for his girlfriend (no, they didn't live in the same house). I turned him down with a long explanation of why this was not a good idea and suggested the wrapped picture and supplies instead. I thought he got the message. December 26, 10 AM, the phone rings. It's the same man. He DID NOT heed my advice and on Christmas Eve walked into Ye Olde Pet Shoppe and put down $800 plus 14% Sales Tax to buy a 3 month old B&T Mini Smooth female. He kept the puppy in a box in his car over night cuz she screamed all night and his landlord threatened eviction on Christmas Eve. Next morning, Christmas Day, he appears at girlfriend's door with puppy in his arms, the big red bow around her neck, and gives his girlfriend the puppy. Girlfriend is not amused. She is deathly allergic to dogs, lives in a no pets Condominium and couldn't keep the puppy even if she wanted it. Puppy goes back to the box in the car for the day, with boyfriend supposedly taking care of it till the pet store opens the next morning. Next morning pet store opens at 9:30. Boyfriend is back with puppy asking to return it. Pet store points to sign "All Sales Final"... No Refunds"... Exchanges Only". Boyfriend begs the store to take the puppy back, even on consignment and is prepared to lose a major chunk of the cash he paid for her the day before. No deal, the pet store has more Dachshunds coming in and this one at 3 months old and after Christmas will be a tough sell. They send Mr. Boyfriend and puppy away. Which brings us back to my morning phone call. Boyfriend wants me to take the puppy and sell it for him. I decline, since I have a litter of my own in the house and the pet store puppy may be harbouring all manner of communicable diseases. I offer to contact the rescue foster home for our club and tell him we will foster the puppy until we can find it a suitable home. He asks how much of his money he will get back? When I tell him none, he is some mad, but finally realizes he was his own worse enemy and makes arrangements to drop the puppy off at the Foster home within an hour. The end of the story is happy. The puppy found a new home some few weeks later, was spayed and to my knowledge is still happily living in her new home.

      So, if you or anyone else you know is thinking of a puppy as a Christmas Gift for someone else, please remember "A Dog is for Life, Not just for Christmas".

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