Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Twas the Month After Christmas...

Just as a horde of half-grown bunnies are plopped down on the doorsteps of animal shelters not long after Easter, so do piles of puppies and caboodles of kittens show up shortly after December 25th.

Obviously, this influx of hapless infants is due to poor planning, impulse buying, or simply that the “thrill is gone.” Or worse, all of the above.

Unfortunately, these youngsters (and some oldsters) who are being relinquished will pay a much higher price than market value…and an extremely unacceptable one, at that.

Therefore, I’m writing this for those who might be so caught up in the spirit that “surprising” someone with a living, breathing, and dependent creature on Christmas morning sounds like a really nifty idea. Well, trust me, it’s not.

As we all know, the holidays are filled with much excitement, disrupted routines, and - as a rule - more visitors than usual.

So just imagine the effects these conditions can have on an animal that hasn’t even had enough time to get to know you, not to mention learn its boundaries and territory, then settle into a daily regimen in its new home. That’s a lot to deal with, period, let alone during the stressful days or weeks that encompass any special season.

Yet, far too often, I hear about people crating their “Christmas” puppy or kitten, dog or cat for continuous hours on end simply to keep them out of the way of company, while cooking or entertaining, wrapping presents, etc. About delaying housetraining until “after the holidays.” No, people, no.

If you really, truly want a pet, just hold your horses and wait until your household has returned to its normal routine. Please don’t selfishly cause a bewildered baby animal (or confused older one) to be set up for failure from the get-go when all it takes is a little patience and timing.

I realize full well that there’s something magical about the decorated tree, the twinkling lights, the multi-colored packages that elicit childhood memories (or wishes) of puppies or kittens peeking their adorable faces out from under those pine-scented branches.

But, in these days of overwhelming pet abandonment, such fanciful pictures in our heads need to be tempered with a mega-dose of realism.

For never forget - ever, for an instant - that pets are forever needy. They need us for their care, their sustenance, their medical assistance, their training. They need us for our constant physical presence, attention and for our love.

In a nutshell, they need to be full-fledged members of the family for their entire lives and not relegated to a sugar-plum moment induced by the spirit of the season, one to be abruptly ended when the glitz and glitter is gone.

I pray this message is taken to heart…..and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.