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  • Writer's pictureDorothy Royal

Pets As Presents, A Good Idea Or Not?

What little girl didn’t ask for a pony for Christmas? What young boy didn’t want a dog at his side when out trekking through the woods after school? Yes, these all sound like images from a time long ago, but the idea is the same. Pets are an important part of our lives in the United States and because of that, sometimes pets fall into the “present trap”.

Animal shelters will tell you how they spike in numbers after the holidays are over and the “cute little fluffy ball of love” grows up to eat shoes, scratch the furniture or better yet, bark at the neighbors. Once a present becomes a nuisance, it tends to get ignored or abandoned.

Thinking about getting a puppy for Christmas? Dogs require more attention than cats, and a bit more room for large dogs. With more and more people living closer and closer it’s not so easy to keep big dogs happy. Fenced in yards are great until the dog starts to dig out or bark (especially when the owner is not home). Most towns, including Surf City, have leash laws that require a dog owner to keep the animal secured on their property or on a leash (not to exceed 20 feet long) to make sure they have control of their animal. A loose dog can become a neighborhood nuisance, not to mention a hazard to drivers.

How about a nice kitten for Christmas? Just be aware that the little fluffy kitten will train YOU before you know it. Nothing will remain on shelves, Christmas trees become a full-size play center and if you use a computer, without a doubt, it will require ALL of your attention when you start to type. The best thing is a cardboard box can entertain them for a while.

Want to get your child a pony for Christmas? Well, let me tell you, they require just as much attention and cost as a full sized horse and they are not “dogs” you can keep in your back yard. Horses of all sizes can kick, bite and break through fencing. Vet bills can be expensive as well as good quality feed and hay. There are better options like offering your child riding lessons at an established stable. Let them learn the real responsibilities of ownership before making the leap.

Owning a pet is a responsibility that may span decades. Dogs and cats can live to be 20 years old, horses can live to be 40 years old and parrots can live to be 50 years old! That’s a real commitment, no matter who you are. If you want to buy someone a pet but don’t expect a long commitment, how about changing gears and getting them a nice pet rock. Remember those? They didn’t make a mess, they didn’t make noise or smell bad. They just were. Yes, a pet rock – now there is a gift that needs to make a comeback.


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