The lights are up, Christmas trees are everywhere, piles of presents are accumulating and everyone is looking for that special something to give to their special someone. The more thought that goes into an present, the more it is appreciated, but it doesn’t always work that way, especially if that present lives and breathes and has a waggy tail.
Despite frequent warnings that ‘a dog is forever, not just for Christmas’ we still see puppies given as presents. As a bitch only has two seasons a year, it is inevitable that some offspring are going to be produced ready to go to new homes around Christmas.
Now it may be ok for the latest computer game to be played to oblivion until the next best game appears, the new bicycle to be ridden for a day and then relegated to the shed, or a trinket to be worn and then spend months in a jewellery box, but a bouncy puppy is constantly seeking attention, reassurance, love and affection.
There is no let up; they cannot be ignored, must be fed, toiletted, exercised and trained. Patience is absolutely essential, but can be in very short supply during the festivities, especially when guests are arriving and one stands in a warm, wet pile of excreta.
In homes where pets have played a constant role in their families’ lives, it is perhaps being too heavy-handed to say that a pet should never be given for Christmas, but sensible precautions can be taken.
Make sure all accessories, such as feeding bowl, bed, collar and lead, are all ready, that an adult takes responsibility for overseeing care of the new arrival, and provide a retreat, probably in the form of a crate, so that the ‘present’ can escape if things get a little hectic.
It is also essential to ensure that the recipient is ready and capable to care for the arrival. Do they have enough time in their busy lives? From a veterinary perspective we would like everyone to put considerable thought into the medical costs, both preventative and treatment, especially should the latter be necessary. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the breed the more expensive the medication so if funds are limited, think small or think insurance.
We want everyone to have a wonderful relationship with their pets and we are here to advise how to smooth the way. We will be offering Puppy Foundation Training Courses in 2015, along with some open evenings, the latter that prospective pet owners are welcome to attend before they make a final decision about their intended acquisition.
By JANE BARWICK-NESBIT, Senior Vet and Director