Now I know this topic may seem like a very controversial one and may well cause a lot of debate but I am not writing this with the intention of promoting the concept of puppies as presents or suggesting shop over adopt. I am simply writing this with a view to address a seasonal issue with Christmas being just around the corner and our social media news feeds inevitably soon to be filled with countless videos of children being presented with their surprise puppies and their emotional reactions.
Anyone that knows me personally knows i’m a bit of a softy and will be the first one to well up at an emotional social media video (particularly when it involves dogs) but the cynic in me can’t help but start to wonder why people feel the need to share this particular type of intimate moment with the rest of the world. Is it part of this horrible phenomenon of proving to the world that you are living the picture-perfect lifestyle and you’re the best spouse/parent, or is it just people trying to share the love and joy at this festive time of year? I guess the answer is irrelevant in terms of the wider theme of this blog post, but I was keen to know what other people thought about this growing trend.
The real crux of the matter that I wanted to discuss ways around the concept of giving puppies as presents for Christmas.
Each year Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity has a Christmas TV advert urging the public not to buy or give dogs as presents. Historical statistics show online searches for puppies skyrocket by 44% in the countdown to Christmas. The published figures only serve to highlight the issue:
- Online searches of the phrase ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 44% from 95,659 to 137,499 a week before Christmas last year, compared to the yearly average
- Online searches to ‘get a dog’ increased by nearly 27% from 357,779 to 452,656 two weeks before Christmas, compared to the yearly average
- Worryingly, online searches for people wanting to give up their dog also peaked in January.
I always like to try and see the good in people and while I have to accept that there are some out there who are simply selfish and irresponsible, I believe that in the most part people get a dog with every intention of giving it a good home and making it part of the family. Sadly, however, I think some simply underestimate the amount of time and dedication it takes to be a responsible dog owner.
I’ve never hidden the fact that when I first got Buddy I found it incredibly tough and have often felt like I slipped into what is now commonly referred to as ‘post puppy depression’. Suddenly this small creature was 100% dependent on me. He was interrupting my sleep, meaning I was tired and grumpy, I lost my independence and freedom, and couldn’t go anywhere for more than a couple of hours in those first few months (not that we have a lot of options with the current pandemic situation). My house was constantly under attack, and a mess and this adorable little puppy seemed more like a piranha at times with his needle teeth ripping my clothes to shreds. I remember feeling like that phase would never end, and seriously questioned whether I was cut out to be a dog owner. It would have been very easy to re-home Buddy and give up on my responsibility but I persevered and I am so happy I did. I now have the most wonderful loyal dog who I love to pieces and, 99% of the time, is a dream.
So the question is how do we educate people more so they know what to expect and appreciate what they are taking on? For anyone thinking of getting a puppy for Christmas, or in fact, at any time of the year, I would recommend having a read of The Archie Collection book series – in particular the first book ‘Bringing up a Puppy’. In the collection, Helen shares her experience of bringing up her puppy, Archie, as well as revealing what life is like with a young adult dog as Archie grows. You also hear from other puppy and dog parents, and not forgetting Archie himself, who adds a little doggy perspective. The books do a great job of honestly letting people know what to expect and highlight some of the key things you should be thinking about before getting your four-legged friend. The books can be found on Amazon here.
For anyone who is thinking of buying puppies as presents at Christmas, whether it is a puppy or a dog they are re-homing from one of the amazing charities out there then please do your research and ask yourself if you are ready for the commitment, and effort it takes. The K9 Nation app has a whole range of useful articles and blogs to try and help support and educate people so please if you haven’t already then download the app for free today and take a look around.
If I could have just one wish this Christmas it would simply be for people to pay attention to the Dogs Trust mantra that ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’.