Happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, happy Kwanzaa and happy New Year.
Though written for the holidays, the following “talking points” about getting a new puppy or dog apply all year long, and include cats and other companion animals, whether adopted or purchased. The message is timeless. These points for family discussion were featured in the November/December 2002 issue of the American Kennel Club’s Public Education Corner.
Think twice before giving your friend or family a dog or cat of any age – puppy, kitten, or otherwise — over the holidays.
n While holiday cards are filled with images of irresistible puppies poking their heads out of stockings, the reality of introducing a puppy to your household over the holidays can be quite different.
n A puppy, dog, cat, or kitten is not a stuffed toy. It will not take kindly to being ignored once a newer, brighter toy is discovered.
n All companion animals need attention, discipline, health care, and a lifetime supply of love and commitment.
n Overexcited children may scare a puppy, dog, or cat, or worse, neglect it, especially after it chews up their holiday toys or has an accident on the rug.
n Cute puppies soon become full-size dogs. Remember an impulse gift over the holidays can last for 10 years or more.
n A dog will need training, food, shelter, medical care and exercise, exercise, exercise, and more training. Day-to-day management is the most important discussion of all.
n If you want to give someone a puppy, don’t have it be a surprise. Dog ownership is a big responsibility. Owners must be prepared for the costs and time involved in owning a dog.
n It’s always best to allow the actual owners to pick out their own pets. The person taking care of the new addition for years to come needs to carefully consider adult dog size, disposition, appetite and grooming.
n Take your time choosing a dog. Puppies aren’t the only option. If you want a purebred, there are many great rescue organizations through which you can adopt adult purebred dogs, many of whom may already be housetrained or more. Deal with LOCAL shelters or LOCAL rescue organizations that you can trust for any dog adoption.
n Consider a gift that will help someone choose the right dog for his or her lifestyle. The AKC publishes The Complete Dog Book and The Complete Dog Book for Kids. Both make great gifts (and are easier to wrap than a wiggly puppy!) You can also get photos and detailed information about different breeds of dogs by visiting the AKC Web site www.akc.org.
n Getting a dog from a responsible breed specialist may take more time than you think, depending on when the next litter is expected, but the wait will be worth it. Visit www.akc.org for specific puppy-buying tips and names of breeder referral contacts near you.
n Wrap up a box with some basic supplies such as a leash, water and food bowls to put under the tree and symbolize the dog to come. Make a box with bowls, litter box, litter, and toys for the cat or kitten to come.
n Attending local dog shows and finding and talking with reputable breeders will help decide what breed is best for you. The AKC publishes several free brochures on being a responsible dog owner. All are available through the AKC Web site at www.akc.org.
n Keep in mind that an animal is for life — not just for the holidays!
n A fabulous feline will afford you much more flexibility and ease of management than a dog. Once you’ve shared a home with a cat, you’ll never be without one!
ATTENTION CAT LOVERS…We have many gorgeous kittens for adoption.
Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or www.cghs.org. Stop down and see us at 111 Humane Society Road, off Route 66 (about a mile south of the intersection with Route 9H) in Hudson. Our hours are 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. The Food Bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food anytime during business hours. All of our cats and kittens are “Furrever Free” with all expenses paid. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $76 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available 10-11 a.m. every Saturday at the shelter, no appointment necessary, for a donation of $5 for cats and $10 for dogs. Charlene Marchand is the Chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at email@example.com.