Don’t get a pet at Christmas

Most children ask for a pet at some point in their lives — very often a puppy, and very often at Christmas.

Most children ask for a pet at some point in their lives — very often a puppy, and very often at Christmas.

They plead with Mom and Dad for a puppy and promise they’ll feed him and walk him and take care of him. The novelty usually wears off after a few weeks or sometimes months, and Mom and Dad become the full-time feeders and the walkers and the poop scoopers for the next 10-15 years.

The chaos of the holidays is generally not a good time to introduce a new dog, because she needs a lot of time, training and a regular routine. But if everyone in the household supports the idea of getting a dog and is willing to contribute, parents can wrap a dog toy, bowl and a leash to put under the tree. The family can then start researching what kind of dog would be suitable and where to find her.

A great place to start is www.findingfido.ca, a new website launched by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS). This fun website provides many tools and advice to help families make sure they’re ready for a dog, how to pick the right one and how to make sure it’s from a caring, reputable source.

There are thousands of wonderful dogs, cats and other animals at humane societies, SPCAs and rescue groups just waiting to be adopted into their forever homes. You’ll find puppies, adolescents, mature dogs and purebreds too. The expert staff at a shelter will be able to tell you a bit about a dog’s temperament such as if the dog is good with children, gets along with cats, is full of energy or prefers to relax all day.  All of this information is invaluable in helping you make the right decision.

If you really want to buy from a breeder, you must do your homework to make sure you don’t unknowingly support a puppy mill or backyard breeder. A puppy mill is a breeding operation where dogs are mistreated and kept in horrendous conditions.  When people make a smart, informed decision to get a dog, their new friend will enrich their life in so many ways. But when people make uninformed or impulse decisions, the result is often heartache, expense and guilt for the people, and suffering or abandonment for the dog. FindingFido.ca will help you do it right. So think carefully, choose wisely and love deeply.

Shelagh MacDonald is the program director for the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

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