Fun & Practical Alternatives to Giving Someone a Puppy for Christmas

Photo by J. Michelle Bennett |

Photo by J. Michelle Bennett |

Once again the holiday season has arrived. It seems to me that each year the holiday shopping season arrives earlier and earlier. Or, maybe I’m just get older and can’t keep up. Either way, I know that I will be searching high and low for the perfect holiday gifts for our friends and family.

A gift card to a favorite store or restaurant seems way too impersonal. It fits the need of my newspaper delivery person and others who provide great service throughout the year. But, for close friends and family I prefer to find a gift that suits them best. Something (hopefully) no one else has given them as a gift.

Maybe a nice robe and slippers that will keep them warm and snuggly will do the trick. However, choosing the correct size and color is always a challenge. But, if you do happen to get the size and color correct, the robe and slippers will wear out over time and will be discarded and forgotten. So, what gift can be given that stays around for years to come, keeps the recipient warm and snugly, never wears out or gets discarded and comes in many wonderful colors and sizes? How about a furry puppy, an adult dog or even a senior-age furry companion?

Bringing home a new puppy during the holidays for a child is a long-standing, loving tradition. Watching a child’s eyes light up when they see a big-eyed furry friend waiting for them is priceless.

However, surprising an adult friend or family member with such a gift may cause them to run the other way. Raising a puppy is not an endeavor that should be taken lightly. They need to be trained, walked frequently, require almost constant attention and, oh yes, be potty trained. It's best to let friends or family members decide for themselves whether or not they can handle the obligation and commitment that it takes to handle a puppy’s needs, and not surprise them with a decades-long commitment that they may or may not be ready for. Countless dogs are returned to breeders and shelters all over the world after the holidays because they were given as gifts to families who weren't prepared for them. It's a tragedy that's entirely preventable. Many rescue groups have policies against giving their animals as gifts for this very reason.

An alternative to surprising a friend or family member with a puppy is to help them pick out an adult dog from a local animal shelter or rescue organization. These animals have often been through all of the necessary training and are ready for a good forever home. Most shelters and rescue organizations have their animals fully examined by a veterinarian including being provided with all of the necessary vaccinations prior to being adopted. Some of the groups also micro-chip their animals for identification in case they stray too far from home. If your friend is truly ready for a canine companion, your gift could be paying their new dog's adoption fee for them or covering their first positive training class.

A senior-age dog could also be the perfect fit for someone who is less active. You will be providing them with a great home with lots of love during their remaining years. For the recipient, they will be receiving a dog that may prefer to cuddle with the family most of the time and may be calmer and less rambunctious. Taking a senior friend or family member on an outing to your local rescue group to meet potential adoption candidates is a holiday treat in and of itself. 

I have no doubt that you can find a wonderful companion in a shelter... or should I say they will find you…Wet nose and all!

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Positively Expert: Tim Link

Tim Link is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Animal Writes" on Pet Life Radio. He is an internationally recognized animal expert, communicator, and consultant. As part of his passion for helping animals , Tim has also mastered Reiki - an ancient art of energy healing - which he uses on animals.


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