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A dog is for life, not just for Christmas

Living

PUPPIES GROW UP Buying a puppy as a surprise gift for Christmas is a very bad idea.

Ask the Vet

Esther Van Luipen

This slogan, used by the Dogs Trust for over 40 years, is excellent. Christmas is the time that people give each other gifts: wanted and unwanted.
With the best intentions in the world, family and friends seem to think that a puppy is the perfect gift for a lonely or beloved family member. Or maybe the kids have been begging for a puppy for such a long time, so it seems like the best present in the world to give a beautiful, small and fluffy puppy, a little companion, to give you great joy. And don’t get me wrong in some cases it is – but only to a person or family that has the commitment and stamina to look after this precious little bundle for LIFE!
People don’t seem to realise that puppies don’t stay small forever. They moult and bark, and poo and pee (especially in the house in the beginning). They need to be walked, fed, trained and cared for around the clock. It also costs a considerable amount to properly care for a dog, between food, bedding, vaccinations and neutering and of course other vet bills.
Sadly, when it hits home that the person who got the present of a puppy can’t deal with this long-term commitment they can end up surrendering their pet to an already overcrowded shelter. This is not the worst outcome, believe it or not, as some beautiful pets are cruelly dumped in a bog or along the roadside.
Another very important thing to consider is chemistry: The same way you can’t choose a girlfriend for your son (although a lot of mothers would love to), you can’t choose a dog for somebody else.
When you get a dog, it should nearly be love at first sight. No one should ever choose to become a puppy owner without serious thought first. And no one should ever make that choice for another person by giving them a puppy as a present.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is buying a puppy as a surprise gift for Christmas is a very bad idea. You need to think long and hard before taking on or giving somebody the responsibility of looking after an animal for up to 15 years. So this year’s tip for a great Christmas gift: Stick to perfumes and silly sweaters!


> Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at living@mayonews.ie.