By Jim Tedford, Director of Pet Identification at PetSafe
Are you planning a Norman Rockwell moment during the upcoming holidays? Do you daydream about your children racing to the Christmas tree and finding that one special package…the one with a giant red bow on top…the one that’s moving??? In your daydream, they pop off the top which is wrapped separately movie-style so that the perfect giftwrap need not be disturbed to discover the treasure held inside. They reach into the huge box and pull out a buttery yellow golden retriever puppy – also with the requisite bow around her neck! The kids and the puppy grow up together without a care in the world.
Wake up…wake up…HELLOOOOO!
Okay, now for the more realistic image. After all, most of us don’t live lives that resemble Norman Rockwell paintings in any way, shape or form! For most of us, Christmas is a wonderful season chock-full of last minute shopping, overeating, late night greeting card addressing and general chaos. I don’t know about you, but if I have to add one more item to my list my head might spontaneously combust!
Sounds like a great time to add a new member to the family, right? In all that spare time between 2 am and 5:30 am you can house train a new puppy! And when you’re not cleaning up his accidents, you can rush him to the vet to have the six feet of tinsel removed from his digestive tract!
In all seriousness, the addition of a new pet to the household is a joyous occasion. And it’s an occasion that requires tons of forethought and preparation. Christmas, while loads of fun, will come and go. The new puppy will grow old in your household and with any luck will be with you for 15 years or more.
So, if you’re ready to bring a new loved-one into your midst during the holidays, you have a few options:
1) Use the holiday gift-giving season as a time to prepare and ANTICIPATE your new arrival – Consider wrapping a home-made gift certificate for your kids letting them know that the family will be looking for just the right pet to adopt as soon as the holiday decorations have been put away. Buy them books on selecting and caring for a new pet. Buy food and water dishes, collars, leashes, toys, pet beds…anything your new best friend will need when the joyous day arrives! If you need suggestions, browse our products at www.petsafe.net!
2) Pet-Proof your home for holidays—If you are determined to introduce your new furry friend during the holiday season, make sure your home is as pet-proof as possible. Keep the new pet away from holiday decorations, including the preservative used to keep your tree fresh. Pets are attracted to tinsel, lights (and light cords) and anything that sparkles so make sure these items are all out of reach. If you have visitors coming and going, make sure the pet doesn’t slip out the door into an unfamiliar neighborhood. And, remember, the transition to a new home can be stressful so allow your new pet ample “quiet” time in a room separate from all the action.
3) Make sure the recipient of a new pet is fully prepared for a long-term commitment—a necktie is one thing, a 15-year commitment to provide all physical and emotional needs to another living thing is quite another. If Uncle Bob lives in a tiny assisted-living apartment, it may not be wise to give him a St. Bernard puppy for the holidays. Make sure the new pet will be wanted and loved in his new home.
Regardless of the option you choose, please consider adoption from a shelter or rescue group as your first option. There are so very many wonderful, loving companions looking for their forever homes. All they need is a second chance to be part of a family. The payback is love that lasts a lifetime…not the worst investment you could make these days!
Happy Holidays to you and yours…and to all creatures, great and small!
Jim Tedford serves as Director of Pet Identification for PetSafe. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.