The holidays always bring on memories, and this year, at home for us, it's a little quieter. My girlfriend Anastasia took the time to write down some words from a conversation we had last night about adopting a pet for Christmas.
Hallmark movies might have you or your kids dreaming of an adorable pet for Christmas… but if you’re thinking of adding a new member to your family, bear in mind that pet ownership is not just for a holiday, but for the animal’s lifetime.
Sure, you might want to see the kids’ eyes light up when they see a little ball of fluff on Christmas morning, but don’t let “visions of sugarpaws dancing in your head” make you lose sight of the real responsibilities of proper pet care: necessary vet visit bills, the costs of preventative medications and nutritious food, and the inevitable messes that come with being a pet owner.
A pet can’t be put on a shelf when the kids get bored with it; someone’s going to have to clean Princess’s litterbox, or take Fido for daily walks - and not just for a few weeks while the kids are off from school, but for years.
If you are considering a new pet, why not wait until after the busy season of celebration? Use the holiday time to talk with your family about who will be responsible for the ongoing daily duties of proper pet care. Consider whether your kids currently keep up with the chores already assigned to them. And think about what you’ll do with the pet when your family goes on vacation.
The bustle of the holiday season can be stressful for pets - even those which aren’t in a brand new environment. Animals can easily be overstimulated by bright lights and joyful gatherings, so a handmade gift certificate, to look for a pet at a future date, might be better for all concerned.
Finally, rather than shopping, think about adopting. If you come to the decision that the responsibilities of a pet aren’t right for your family at this time, you can still help an animal to find its forever home by making a donation to your local shelter, and teach your kids the importance of giving, without the expectation of receiving, in the process. And isn’t that the true meaning of the holidays?
Pets deserve thoughtful care for their lifetimes. Before you make an emotional decision based on the sentimental TV and movie images we’re flooded with at this time of year, remember: a pet is not a toy, but a living, feeling creature which deserves the very best - and consistent - attention and commitment.
So if you're thinking of bringing a wagging tail into your life any time soon, please adopt. The Eau Claire County Humane Association has numerous wet noses that would love to meet you. If you're not in the market for a pet, consider a donation to them, to help them in their mission. https://www.eccha.org/ That's where our girl came from.
In memory of Molly, 2006-2021.