Yes or No: Do Pets Make Good Gifts for the Holidays?
With the Christmas season coming, some people prepare great surprises for their loved ones. You may have an elderly relative who has lost their partner or is living alone. Maybe a child in the household has been asking for a pet for years, and promises to take care of one. It can be very gratifying to see someone’s joy when they unwrap a box that’s been wiggling around and making strange noises, or when they open their eyes to see the puppy or kitten you’ve placed on their lap. But in the long run, do pets make good gifts?
Surprises can be problematic. The intention is full of love and generosity, but reality can make the consequences difficult for the new owner and the pet.
As Gifts for Adults
Do pets make good gifts or should you never do it? We don’t want to say it’s never a good idea to surprise someone with a pet—but it makes sense to find out what they really want, and what they can manage.
A Golden Retriever puppy can make your grandmother really happy initially, but a puppy is hard and constant work. And once the dog is full-grown, it could actually become physically hazardous for her. Unless properly trained, dogs can throw people off balance by pulling too hard on their leash, or cats get underfoot and cause a fall. Someone who is older can often have troubles with balance and strength, which should be taken into consideration.
As Gifts for Kids
Your kids may have been begging for a dog or cat for a long time. You can teach them about all the care the pet will need, but nothing compares to the actual experience. Through no fault of their own, a child isn’t always equipped to care for a pet the way they promise they will. Then the parent, who may already be overloaded, ends up with the job of feeding, grooming, caring for and training the new pet. Because this kind of gift affects both the person and the pet, it deserves realistic forethought.
Seriously consider these questions:
- Does the recipient of your gift want a pet?
- What kind of pet do they want?
- Can the recipient realistically care for a pet emotionally, physically, and financially?
- Are they allowed to keep one where they live?
- Do they want to train a young animal, or would they prefer to adopt an older pet who is trained and fully-grown in size and temperament?
- What would happen to the animal if they could no longer care for it?
The Tip of the Tail
So do pets make good gifts? Don’t be discouraged if you decide a dog or a cat would be more than you bargained for. Pets come in many different species. Sometimes a tank of fish would be be a nicer present, or a guinea pig to cuddle with. But remember, it’s still important to educate yourself and the recipient about the cost of caring for the pet, no matter what kind of creature you choose. Then they can relax and enjoy the unconditional love and companionship of their new pet, and you get the warm fuzzies from being a match-maker.