The Holiday Pet.

Please, this holiday season, do not buy a surprise pet for your loved one.

This is the season when a new puppy, kitten, bunny, or bird under the tree is most tempting – it’s cute, charming, and memorable… that is, until the excitement of a new pet wears off. Suddenly that pet becomes a burden. All animals all need serious commitment. Maybe the pet gets pushed to one side: cared for physically, but not given the love it deserves. If it’s fortunate, it will find its way to a no-kill rescue. If not, it will end up in a pound or shelter until it is either euthanised or adopted. With so many animals being relinquished during this festive season, consider its odds for survival.

I don’t mean to say that a pet isn’t a good gift, after a fashion. It is simply not a good surprise gift.

Please, don’t gift animals as a surprise.

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Here are some thoughts and tips if you or a child are truly set on a pet this season:

Don’t put the pet under the tree. Instead, leave a note or letter saying that it is waiting to be picked out! Involve your young ones. Help them choose accessories, supplies, and eventually the pet itself. They need to remember that when the holiday season fades back to normality, their new bundle of fur, fluff, or feathers still needs love, care, and attention every day. Keeping your children involved stops them from being disappointed if the surprise pet they received wasn’t what they envisioned. It invests them in ownership.

Under the tree, you can leave hints of the pet to arrive: the cage, accessories, and supplies your children picked out, along with informational books. They’ll have plenty to unwrap!

Do your research – and involve your child. If you’re thinking of buying or adopting, make sure you have read up on as much as you can beforehand. Birds are loud, messy, and bite – but return your love tenfold when you earn it. Dogs are energetic and unquestioningly loyal, but may also be at risk for breed health problems. Every animal will have specific needs that must be met for a good quality of life. Make sure the whole family is ready for this.

An animal is not a plaything or a commodity. It cannot be set aside in moments of boredom. It cannot be forgotten in a mad rush of celebration. Once the festivities have ended, that pet is there to stay in all its messy, noisy glory.

Parrots are really not suitable for most children, either, as their long lifespans almost promise that they will become a burden at some point – either when everyone grows tired of it, or when the child grows up and move off to school someplace. Can you guarantee a parrot’s future?

One last thing this holiday… Please consider adopting! There are many pets out there who need a family and would appreciate a home this winter. Not all rescue animals have ‘issues’; many have been surrendered due to the current economy and job loss, or perhaps a loss or pregnancy in the family. Adoption can also be less expensive than purchasing from a breeder or shop.

I personally think that all children should have a pet of some kind. It teaches responsibility, gentleness, compassion, and much more. The holiday season is simply not the best time to begin this amazing relationship between child, family, and animal.

Just know that a parrot is not like a puppy or hamster, and that it will place many strains and demands on your family.

Set yourself up for success.

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6 thoughts on “The Holiday Pet.

  1. EXACTLY, thank you! The idea seems charming when portrayed in movies or books, but it breaks my heart to know that people are ACTUALLY doing this and not taking into account the animal’s own needs. I wouldn’t want to be a surprise gift…

    • It’s hard to believe people could do it, but to people who have never owned a pet (or never been educated on how to care for one), they seem to think ‘put the [animal] beneath the tree; it’s a toy, a thing, and needs minimal care. And the photographs will look so cute!’ Or maybe they simply underestimate the effort owning any pet takes. Who knows…

  2. Completely agree, I got my dog for Christmas one year, but I actually got her in October and knew I was getting her. I think in certain situations it’s ok to surprise with certain animals. Since I keep a large number of reptiles 1 surprise reptile for Christmas will not be forgotten and I have a long wish list of animals I want as it is, so it can be a surprise which one, but like I said, these are special circumstances, not the average household.

    • I definitely agree about special circumstances – especially for committed owners who already understand the quirks and ‘downsides’ that there can be to ownership. It’s just the people who don’t know and impulsively buy a pet that worry me. -_-

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