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Christmas Puppies?

It’s that time of year again – in fact, it started several weeks ago: Christmas, the largest of the gift-giving events in the western world. Ah, the love, the joy, the sharing…the gifts!

Unfortunately, far too many people think that it’s OK to surprise their kids, their spouses, or others with a brand new, cute-as-a-button, adorable puppy (or kitten)! That might actually be appropriate under some conditions: the kids are already known to be responsible and familiar with pet care and to sincerely want a pet and the spouse is not grudgingly, reluctantly tolerant of the idea but actively enthusiastic about it, too. Regrettably, that situation is the exception and not the rule :(

Much too often, the result is excitement when the puppy is “unwrapped”, quickly yielding to more excitement at other gifts or Mom’s frustration when new puppy pees on the clean carpet. Later (mere weeks later), the puppy is relegated to the laundry room or the garage where he, bored and unhappy, chews on inappropriate objects, incurring even more wrath. About this time, Dad often starts yelling about how he had a dog when he was a kid and it was perfectly well behaved, smart, never got into any real trouble, and why can’t these &^$*# dogs now-a-days be like that.

The next step — is the dog is very, very lucky — is that the family seeks and finds a rescue organization willing to accept the poor puppy and find a new home for her. Somewhat less lucky pets are dropped off at the animal shelter with some expectation of adoption (puppies are adopted at shelters far more often than older dogs). The truly unlucky puppies are abandoned on some back road or in some other neighborhood while Mom and Dad comfort themselves with the “knowledge” that “somebody will find her and adopt her…she’ll be fine”.

But genuine horror awaits those other puppies who are staked out on a chain in the backyard (“he really prefers to be outdoors”), tightly muzzled (“his barking upsets the neighbors”), and forgotten by everybody (“the kids are too busy with soccer and my new job takes all of my time”) while he slowly starves, cold and shivering in the rain or roasting in the sun.

Today is “Christmas eve eve” ;) and it’s really peaceful here (with several inches of fresh snow and more on the way). But, by the end of January, for at least a couple of months, we will find ourselves constantly on the phone talking to people who want to relinquish their Christmas pets. We have actually gotten calls from people who want us (Sheltie Rescue of Utah) to accept their Malamutes, Pit Bulls, or Schnauzers, telling us that, if we don’t, they’re just going to drop the dog off at a shelter. Some of those people aren’t willing to call a second rescue organization even if we give them the contact information…it’s just too much trouble.

Please help us educate the general public that:


On this day..

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1 comment to Christmas Puppies?

  • arbohnacres

    Perhaps Albert Payson Terhunes’s “The Christmas Pup” should be widely e-mailed, especially to the general public, in November. It is perhaps an oldfashioned story of what can happen to puppies given as Christmas gifts. I cannot read it myself without tears coming, my heart going out to the obviouly frightened and confused puppy. C.

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