“Can we get a puppy this year for Christmas?” This popular question is usually followed by “I promise, I will feed him, and walk him, and take care of him.” Well, it is important to consider the whole picture. Ideally, the holidays are not the best time to introduce a new member into your family. There is the hustle & bustle of the season, the friends & family dropping by, the excitement, the food and the dangers that come with all of that. You want to keep in mind that this is a life, and a puppy or kitten (or bird, lizard, rodent...) will need attention, training, and bonding time with you and your family. It is very exciting to get a new pet, and you want to be sure the excitement doesn’t wear-off as the holidays become memories. It is okay if the Mr. Potato Head® sits in a box for six months after Christmas before someone plays with it again, but a dog or a cat will need attention, food, and play every day for a long, long time. There are also ancillary expenses that come with a new animal. These include a veterinary exam, usually with vaccinations, possibly a spay or neuter surgery early, and medical visits each year for the next 10-20 years, food, toys, bedding, and training. You must consider your personal situation. If you do decide to bring home a new friend for the holidays (or at any time), I would like to suggest going to an animal shelter or rescue group. The shelters are over loaded this time of year, and many animals are turned away and euthanized. In January, they will be flooded with unwanted "gifts" that people received. Shelter animals can make wonderful pets, and they generally live longer too. When searching, you want to make sure you find a companion that will fit in with your life and your family. Ask the shelter or rescue if the animal has had a formal behavioral assessment, such as a SAFER™ or ASSESS-A-PET™ test, and ask to see the results. If you think you have found the perfect pet, but would like a professional to assess them for you, many trainers offer this service for a nominal fee, or even for no cost if you sign up for a training package once you find your new pet. Please consider contacting a trainer BEFORE you even get your dog, we can set you up for success from day one! E-Mail me at TopDog@refinedcanine.com if you have any questions about adding a pet to your family, or about a pet you already have.
Here are some direct links to some of our local shelters and rescue groups:
Circle of Hope: http://www.circleofhopek9rescue.org
Stratford STARS: http://stratfordanimalrescue.com
Ruff and Scratchy: http://ruffandscratchy.org
Pet Finder: http://www.petfinder.com
Karuna Bully Rescue: http://www.karunabully.org