Is it just me, or has this year gone really fast? I feel like we just finished Christmas last year and now it’s already come and gone again. I was just getting used to it being 2010 and before we know it we’re going to be in 2011. I can’t keep up! Someone told me that this awareness is a sign that I am getting old. Oh well, I guess getting older is better than the alternative.
There is something very special about this time of year, particularly when you can see it through the eyes of a child. My daughter was so excited to open her advent calendar every morning and every day she asked how many more days until Christmas day. We successfully navigated the whole photo with Santa thing, which historically has always been a bit of a traumatic experience for my little one, but this year she happily handed him her Christmas list (and translated it for him). I couldn’t quite make out what he said when her heard my six year old asking for an iTouch. When I was a child and sat on Santa’s lap (apart from being scared out of my wits too) I would ask him for things like a doll or a cuddly toy or some pens. But Wii’s and iTouches? My friend told me that her seven-year old just asked Santa for an iPad. Luckily the big man did not bring my daughter an iTouch this year – if he did we were going to have words. What happened to a Barbie, a fun jigsaw puzzle or a good book?
My daughter also wants a puppy! I’m now in the same position as parents all over the world, and our answer is: not for Christmas. Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive Officer of the Dog’s Trust shelters in Britain coined the famous phrase, ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas,’ and since she did she has saved many lives. But the pet stores here in the States continue to enjoy a healthy trade over the Christmas season, with people still being conned into buying dogs before they are ready and being told that the puppies they are buying are not from the awful puppy mills shown on Oprah. No, they say these puppies come from breeders who care about where their puppies end up and who breed from good stock! All the pups come with impressive-looking papers touting all sorts of great heritage. And the public drink it up, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these puppies only to find they have health problems, behavior problems or they are just too much work. So where do the poor pups go? Not back to the store or the supposedly responsible breeders who seem to have forgotten how much they once cared. No, they’ll end up in a shelter. Some of the pups will get lucky and be adopted by a loving family, but most will end up being euthanized along with the four million or so other dogs and cats put down in this country every year. How’s that for a happy ending?
I’d like to take every CEO, manager, worker and middle man that works in the pet store puppy industry to watch all the euthanasias of the dogs that they previously sold. They’d be kept so busy they wouldn’t have time to enjoy all the money they made from the Holiday rush. I often wonder how they sleep at night knowing they are perpetuating the abuse and neglect of millions of puppy mill dogs in this country.
When I was a young girl, I used to ask Santa for a puppy every year, but I never got one. I would get so upset that he never fulfilled my wish, but I didn’t realize then that he was a lot wiser than I was, because he knew even though it was me who wanted the dog, my parents didn’t have the time to look after one. I’m glad I didn’t make my daughter wait for thirty five years to have her own dog like I did, because watching her play with her beloved lab Sadie is a joy to behold, but I also won’t get a dog just because she asked me for one. My husband and I waited a long time to have our own dog and made the decision to give Sadie a home only when we were ready and our lifestyles allowed for it. Now, three years later, we’ve decided that 2011 is the time to add to our family. We’re not sure what kind of dog we’ll get, but we’ll know when we meet him or her at the shelter.
During this holiday season I think about my wonderful family, how fortunate I have been in my life and career and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to help others through what I do. We at Positively have been working hard to shoot new episodes of It's Me or the Dog (new season premieres Saturday, Jan 8th!), develop exciting ideas and build our foundation so that we can help all the worthy causes that support pets and their people. 2011 is going to be a big year for us with many projects that everyone can enjoy. Stay tuned for future news and I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a Happy and Healthy New Year.