Ho, Ho, No!

We've all heard that pets don't make the best gifts for the holidays. Slate has a fantastic article on the matter.

Veterinarians, dog trainers, behaviorists, shelter employees and rescue groups never advise dogs as Christmas gifts because many of them end up in the shelters 3-6 months later when they are adolescent dogs. Many of them also come from breeders-of-ill-repute (puppy mills). Good breeders never produce puppies for Christmas Morning.

Shelters and reputable breeders are our biggest word-of-mouth against Christmas puppies and educating against the practice, and providing alternatives.

So why on EARTH is a Maine shelter delivering puppies to homes on Christmas morning?!?

I'm really sad to see the Coastal Humane Society of Maine get on the Christmas Puppy bandwagon - they will even deliver the puppies to the door on Christmas morning. They are looking for drivers to deliver the dogs (many of which just had a traumatic transport from the South to Maine) to people's homes on Christmas morning. Some of which might end up back in the shelter in June. 

Yes, it looks good on paper: kids wake up and see a new dog, and it's really exciting for everyone, until the puppy needs training classes, or eats all the new toys the kids just opened. 

After the excitement of the holidays are over, many Christmas pets go back to the shelter. 
If someone is committing to bringing a dog home, keeping it in a shelter for an extra week so a family can be surprised by the dog seems really unfair to the dog frown emoticon

I see what they are trying to do - but I think this is a huge miss. 

  • Instead, the shelter should put a program together to prevent dogs coming back to their shelter
  • Encourage families to come and volunteer their time socializing the puppies (or go down to the shelter as a family unit later in the day)
  • Have a local artist paint holiday ornaments of the dogs in the shelter, and the money for the ornaments can go back to support the shelter. 
  • Related: The ornament could be a "we will get a dog in the new year, but we are all going to meet the dog" placeholder present.
  • Buy a round of dog training classes and give that as a gift - then in the weeks after the holidays, the family can go meet dogs from reputable sources. 
  • Can't have a dog but want one? Donate to your local shelter. 
  • Not sure if your kids would be responsible enough for a dog? Go as a family to walk dogs at the shelter once a week. If they aren't into it after a month, then you've dodged a bullet (and helped some dogs get some exercise!) If they continue to look forward to dog walking day, you can consider foster-to-adopt through the shelter. 
Regardless, if you are considering getting a pet, don't use Christmas as an excuse. You can prep the family on Christmas and build excitement by buying classes or a promissory note for your dog-to-be, but from dog trainers, shelter employees and rescue advocates everywhere - please:

 Exnay on the Ristmas Cay Uppy Pay.

 Lastly, you can always do this, instead:

Happy holidays,