And yes, kids might love the thought of having a cuddly puppy. Don’t we all?
To kids, quite understandably, Christmas presents are there to be played with. They can throw balls or sticks for a Christmas puppy. They can cuddle it and run around the garden with it. Great fun.
What they won’t necessarily understand that this Christmas present has to be micro-chipped, licensed, vaccinated, toilet-trained, house-trained, obedience-trained, cleaned up after, walked, watered and fed daily.
They won’t understand that this Christmas gift may leave unlovely turds on the sitting-room rug and urinate on the floor and chew their light-up sneakers.
They won’t necessarily like it if they step onto a puppy-poo or into a puddle in their bare feet first thing in the morning.
They won’t appreciate being told that, when their Christmas present is finally toilet-trained, they may be asked to go out into the driveway with a shovel now and again, and scoop up any Christmas puppy poos that have been left around. Or that, yes, they have to walk their dog, even if it’s cold or wet or there’s something else they’d prefer to be doing.
Puppies, in fact, are a responsibility and bring a fair bit of work with them. I should know, I’ve had dogs for the past 30 years. I love dogs. But I also respect the effort that goes into house-training a dog and I certainly wouldn’t give one to a child as a Christmas present. This all came to mind when I read that between January and last September nearly 2,000 people contacted the Dogs Trust charity looking to dump their dogs. These are people who, at one time, presumably thought they’d like to have a dog. And what they often forget it that many dogs equally like to have humans. And that they form a bond with those humans. Which brings me to the owner who callously tied a Jack Russell to a tree outside the Dogs Trust and left it there. Hopefully this person will be mortified by the fact that the heart-breaking CCTV footage of the confused terrier has been selected to form a central part of the charity’s Christmas campaign which strives annually to hammer home the message that dogs are for life, and not just for Christmas. The slogan was coined by the charity some four decades ago, and clearly things haven’t changed.
Images of the affectionate Jack Russell trying to follow the owner who had abandoned him without a backward glance, reportedly reduced some staff at the charity to tears, and now that image of the poor bewildered creature will be used as a graphic reminder to prospective dog owners that pets are not disposable.
The charity was reportedly alerted to the presence of the unfortunate dog by a passer-by who told them that the little animal was tied to a tree with a piece of washing line by a person who parked well away from the cameras at the charity’s Dublin base, in order to avoid identification.
It never ceases to amaze me how callous people can be — think of the unfortunate lurcher tied to a gate up in Roscommon, trying to nurse six puppies. The point about getting a dog, says the Dogs’ Trust, is that not only do you want to think seriously about the long-term implications of getting one — and they strongly advise waiting until after the Christmas season to decide — you must think carefully about the kind of dog that suits you and your family in terms of temperament or behaviour and not just what it looks like.