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Avoid Making a Gift of a Pet

Can't think of the perfect gift for your animal-loving friend or family member? How about a new cat or dog? How about, no way! Pets should be chosen by the recipient, when they are ready to adopt one. Dogs and cats are not objects that can be gift-wrapped, and handed over to someone. Giving a dog or cat to a child in the same manner you would give a book or a doll can give them the wrong idea about that animal's worth. While other gifts may be returned or exchanged if they are not right, a pet is not a toy, not an article of clothing or decorative object. Toys are often forgotten in the weeks after the holiday, things are misplaced. It's fine to buy a dog or cat for your child, but make it a family event, and do not tell the child it is a "gift".

The person you want to give an animal to has to be ready to make a commitment to the care of that animal. The new owner will know instinctively when he or she has found the right animal. A pet needs care and attention, and cannot simply be tossed aside when the newness wears off. All too often the attraction fades as the adorable puppy or kitten grows into an adult animal.

Rather than purchase the animal outright, why not come up with a creative way to help the person with the choice and/or purchase of his new pet? For example, you can give any of the necessary and useful accessories and gear that the new pet owner will need. Create or purchase a gift certificate to an animal shelter, rescue group or breeder. Be sure the person truly wants an animal before giving a gift certificate, as they may not be refundable. Offer to take your friend to one of these places if transportation is an issue.

Other ideas could include gift certificates to training classes, groomers or veterinarians. Give gifts of books or videos. Make a gift basket with a stuffed animal as the centerpiece.

Unless you are planning a very quiet one, holidays are not the best time to bring a new pet into the home. Household members are busy, stress levels are high. It is difficult to give the pet the attention it needs. There may be more noise and people in the house than usual, which can be stressful and confusing for the animal. Doors may be opening often, and a frightened animal could easily escape.

There also may be additional hazards in the house, such as Christmas trees and decorations, ribbon bedecked packages, lit candles and an abundance of food on counters and tables. After the holidays, when there are two to three quiet days with at least one person home all day is the best time to get your new pet. House training will be much simpler and proceed more quickly if you can give a puppy plenty of attention from the beginning. Quiet time alone will make bonding with your new pet go more smoothly. Getting a pet is an exciting event, but since anticipation can be just as sweet, the promise of the gift to come will be just as welcome.

For dozens more articles on pet care, pet health and feeding your pet, visit the author's website: www.pethealthresource.com



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