‘All I want for Christmas is a puppy!’

Watching the young child scramble onto Santa’s lap, her blue eyes magically transfixed on the jolly fellow, I paused during a frenzied day of shopping to listen to their conversation.

Excitement bubbling from her voice, she explained she had been a very good girl all year and had only one request for a Christmas present.

“All I want for Christmas is a puppy!” she exclaimed.

Glancing at her parents who were standing nearby, their smiles unwavering, I pondered the possibility of a new puppy gracing their Christmas morning.

Bringing a young animal into your home can be a joyous occasion. There is nothing quite as cute as a tiny kitten or puppy. The reality, however, is those cute little fuzzy creatures grow up. Not only do they grow in size, but they develop unique personalities and require individual care.

If you are contemplating adding a new pet to your family this holiday season, I encourage you to seriously analyze all aspects of pet parenting and ask yourself if you are prepared to take on that responsibility.

The sound of young children’s giggles as they roll around on the floor with their new friend is one to enjoy and the bond that is built as they grow together can complete a family’s harmony.

It also can complicate it as the members of your household and the young new pet adjust to each other.

And then there are a young pet’s initial basic needs of food, water and waste elimination.

It generally doesn’t take any young animal very long to discover the food and water bowls. That is the easy part. Have fresh water available at all times, knowing that their curiosity and incoordination might propel them into the bowl.

Young animals receive adequate nutrition from their mother’s milk, but once weaned, your little cohort will need good nutritional food three times a day.

Fair warning: What goes in, must come out.

Cats seem to have an intuitive nature when it comes to litter boxes, but kittens need to be shown where it is located. Frequent reminders, by placing the kitten in the box, will probably be required until the youngster figures out the process.

Puppies, on the other hand, will need to go outside OFTEN! They inevitably will have accidents all over your floors, but you can teach them to relieve themselves outdoors by being consistent in getting them out before the mishap occurs.

Take them outside every time they wake up, whether it be first thing in the morning or from one of their many naps during the day. Before, immediately after, and also within an hour following a feeding are also crucial times to escort them outside.

Rubbing their nose in the yellow puddle while yelling “No, no. Bad dog!” will only confuse the puppy. A young animal’s attention span is about the size of a gnat and they have no idea why you are yelling at them.

Negative discipline accomplishes zilch. Overly exuberant, positive encouragement after successfully eliminating their waste outdoors will encourage the young dog to learn faster.

All of this adjusting takes quite a bit of time. It might go fine during the winter break since the kids are home to tend their fluffy friend, but what happens when school starts? That time commitment may fall on your schedule.

The time of this may coincide with your little companion feeling more comfortable in its new environment and beginning to explore with an inquisitive desire to discover some entertaining object that will occupy time, such as chewing off the front panel of the couch or using the curtains as a climbing post.

If you are considering bringing a young animal into your home this holiday season, I recommend a thorough analysis of how this little creature will change your lives.

My heartfelt opinion is that every child should experience the joy of sharing life with a pet, but please consider the impact this addition will have on your lifestyle.

I wish you a very merry Christmas!

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)om.


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