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Be prepared if a 4-legged friend is on your child's Christmas wish list

November 26, 2013 - Jenny Rukenbrod
We are amidst that magical holiday time where smiles are abundant and the cheery holiday spirit is contagious. The succulent aroma of the Thanksgiving turkey preoccupies us and the dream of the perfect Hallmark Christmas season dances like sugar plums in our heads. Perhaps the most widely held, best ever visual, is the wiggly puppy greeting those tiny tots with their eyes all aglow on Christmas morning. In a community where people and pets are connected, is this about to become the perfect “Christmas Story” or a holiday “Nightmare on Elm Street” waiting to happen? I find it saddening that Christmas is now a precursor to Thanksgiving, diluting the deep importance of this holiday in American history. This victim of commercialization isn’t alone. The spirit of Christmas becomes lost in the competitiveness created by loss leaders and a limited quantity on hot items, all available on what was once the sacred family time of Thanksgiving Day. Christmas carols blend with “Black Friday” advertisements. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t like singing “Auld Lang Syne” before “What Child is This”. In today’s world, right or wrong, cash or credit, daytime or nighttime, gifts we will get and gifts we will give. If research trips your trigger a plethora of gift giving guides exist by a multitude of sources for every person, friend or foe, on your gift giving list. Personally, I prefer that intimate personal knowledge that goes into selecting the gift. That’s what makes gift giving special. However, one timeless treasure found on almost every child’s gift list at one time or another requires the most research and forethought of all. Joy to the world is what the season brings. Without a doubt, one of the greatest joy-filled gifts is that of a pet. But, great CAUTION and PREPAREDNESS must be undertaken before granting this Christmas wish. You must be ready for a reality check. A pet can’t be turned off or silenced when you or your child wants to watch television, take a nap or go out for lunch. Much like a human infant, this living, breathing creature will make noises and have demands that only humans can satisfy. A perfect Kodak moment could be all that is left after the excitement wears off of that sweet fuzz ball of a puppy or kitten placed into the arms of a child. Are you, the adult, prepared to be the nanny and guardian for the life of the pet that you will introduce to your family and home? Or will this innocent animal become a statistic as a throwaway pet, like a toy that is discarded when the novelty wears off. Just like a child that is not potty trained, socialized or educated, an aging puppy will display the behavior of a terrorizing toddler or mischievous adolescent. When the giggles have long ago gone silent and the wails of responsibility and resentment are building, what will you do? Hopefully, as an active reader and engaged citizen, you will have done your homework and helped to educate others who do not. Investigate the proper breed for the lifestyle of the recipient. Will the unsuspecting caregiver be willing to accept the commitment and demands this long-lasting gift will require? Animal shelters and rescues will be full by Spring with the remnants of Christmas past as the uncommitted toss their newly “damaged” pet in need of “reconditioning” aside like ribbon and wrapping paper. Perhaps a gift certificate to your local humane society or animal shelter is a more responsible offering. Pair it with a gift of a pet to be retrieved later and a pass for obedience and socialization for the pet, if appropriate, at a nearby training facility. These establishments can certainly give you experienced advice. In a community where people and pets are connected, the spirit of the holidays can be shared in perfect harmony for many years to come. Through thoughtfulness, planning and a little Christmas magic you can deliver the greatest gift of all.


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