Puppies. Kittens. Rabbits. Ferrets. Birds, Fish and other assorted living creatures.
They seem like the perfect gift, don’t they? The receiver will certainly think you’re the best gift-giver of all time and that will be nice for you. But not so nice for the gift.
A large percentage of animals given as gifts at Christmas time end up at the local shelter within a year for various reasons. Some companions don’t grow up in accordance to what the giver and receiver had in mind, others come up short in the size category (or more than likely the ‘too large’ category) or after the excitement and newness of their arrival fades, the necessary daily chores of keeping a pet healthy and happy becomes more of an inconvenience when proper time and thought has given way to the holiday season festivities. An animal companion is a lifetime commitment.
Children are the largest percentage of receivers of living animals during this holiday season. And I like to think a child’s life is better for having an animal companion in it. But there is a proper age or maturity that is required when an animal’s well-being is at stake and eight or ten years old probably is a bit young for that kind of responsibility. The enthusiasm is there but like every young living thing, focus is not their long suit and soon someone else, not as enthusiastic, will be taking over the chores.
The holiday season itself is not conducive to helping a new family member assimilate into the household. Nothing is normal at Christmas time. So rather than having a displaced animal come into a home that is stable, calm and ready, the new member comes into chaos. There are places to be, leaving puppy or kitten alone for hours in a strange place with odd smells and strange sounds. Time seems to be in short supply with visiting well-wishers, whether hurrying to go somewhere else or welcoming them into the home. There are trees to cause mischief, ribbons to chew on and candy and food left within reach because no one is ready and all these things can do harm to the new family member.
If a home is ready to add a new member then what does it matter if it happens after the holiday season when things are calm and there is nothing to distract from welcoming this animal into the home? Buy them a gift that has no feelings to injure when they tire of it; they can just set it aside or leave it out in the yard and it will not care.
Puppies. Kittens. Rabbits. Ferrets. Birds, Fish and other assorted living creatures. They are gifts.
But they are not Christmas presents, they are not things presented with bows and wrapping paper. They are living, loving Beings that give their heart without limits. If bringing in a new member is not well-considered with time and discussion among the entire family, the loving heart will be broken and that is a gift to no one.