Christmas - a time when we want love to be manifested in every way possible. What better way to show someone you love your true spirit than by giving them a puppy,
a beautiful, cuddly ball of energy that will grow up to be their best friend and always remind them of you?
Puppies appear frequently in Christmas advertising, and some pet stores and breeders try hard to capitalize on the emotional impact of a puppy and child
playing together in front of the Christmas tree. As wonderful as that picture is, though, the reality of the situation is often very different.
Groups as diverse as, and often at odds with one another as, the Humane Society of the United States, canine behavior experts, the American Kennel Club, PETA, Animal Rights Activists,
breed rescue groups, veterinarians, obedience training instructors, and most reputable breeders of sound, healthy dogs, are in strong agreement that live puppies should not be given as
Christmas gifts. (Ruth Ginzberg, for the Pet Action League)
Why the strong objections to giving puppies as gifts? Within a few days after Christmas every year, animal rescue
organizations around the world are deluged by people trying to rid themselves of such gifts that turned out to be not at all what was expected. Among the hardest-hit victims
of this post-holiday rethinking are Northern breed puppies, with Siberian Huskies suffering a particularly high level of rejection.
The reason for this high rejection rate is simply that, as cute as they are with their fuzzy double coats, relatively few people are prepared for the personality of a husky -
the average husky is most definitely not like Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin. Here's a quick summary of common traits that may be problematic:
- they are independent (obedient only when they feel it's appropriate),
- they can't be trusted off-leash (ever!),
- they are very active (need a great deal of exercise and are not good with small children),
- they get bored easily (and when they get bored, they may get destructive),
- they dig (into flower-beds, and out of kennels),
- they have a strong prey instinct (cats, squirrels and birds beware!),
- they can be high-maintenance due to their heavy coats (which leave amazing amounts of hair behind when they shed).
- and they are not guard dogs (they love everybody, even the guy carrying your computer out of the house at 3 AM).
It's difficult or impossible to judge what another person's reaction will be to a puppy once the intial thrill is past. Once the cuddles and puppy-kisses have to be fit in
among the other duties of their life. And once the hard work of training the puppy to follow the necessary rules begins. "Cute" is a concept that can very quickly wear thin if your gift just doesn't
mesh well with your beloved's life.
Other issues that need to be considered are the high level of activity at Christmas (which can easily scare a puppy), and the vast number of foods and materials around that can poison
them. Many people feel that they're doing dogs a favour by letting them join in on the holiday feast, but they may instead "kill them with kindness" by feeding them chocolate, macadamia nuts or even ham.
For a new puppy, things like tinsel, angel hair, lights and "popcorn" Styrofoam packing can be fatal atttractions.
The links below have a great deal more information about related subjects, including the "puppy mills" that supply many pet stores.
If you're thinking about giving a puppy as a present, please make it a well-informed decision - a puppy's life may be at stake.
More About Christmas Pets
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
Information on the foods, plants and other materials that can poison your dog.
No Christmas Puppies, Please
An excellent feature by Ruth Ginzberg, for PetRescue.com.
Giving Pets as Gifts This Holiday Season
Cesar Millan puts in his "two bits worth".
Prisoners of Profit
Christmas means big business for "puppy mills", and you should know how to recognize one.