by Soojin Um
Every year there seems to be some commercial on television where a young child opens a Christmas gift box and inside is a puppy or a kitten. The child beams with pure joy and then hugs the new family addition. Just like fairy tales, the commercial ends there. However, what happens afterwards? What about the part where they have to take care of the animal, making sure to feed it, clean after it, and all the other things that pet owners have to do? This isn’t just limited to children and teens. Adult recipients of pets have to do the same thing and more. After a while, those people might just say to themselves, “I never signed up for this.”
Raising a dog or cat is a serious commitment, and like all serious commitments, the only way you’ll be successful is if that is absolutely what you want to do. That’s the only way you can do all the tasks necessary to keep your pets healthy, happy, and safe. Otherwise, you can get bogged down by feelings of reluctance and resentment. When that happens, which is all too frequent, the animal is at risk of abandonment. Even if the owner does not abandon the dog or cat, they still live in an unhappy home where they’re not wanted.
So then should people never give pets as gifts? Not exactly. What we’re saying is, a lot of thought and consideration should go into pets as gifts. We all want to surprise our loved ones with a great gift, but some gifts should not be a surprise. If we know a family member or friend loves animals, and has talked repeatedly about getting one, giving a pet to that person could be a safe bet. Even then, however, we still need to be careful. They may want a pet, but may not be ready. Maybe they have a job that requires frequent travel. Or maybe their job requires extensive hours. The point is, we have to be sure that the potential recipient is not only an animal lover but is in a position to be able to take care of the dog or cat.
How can we be sure the person we want to give a pet to really wants a pet and is ready for a pet, but is also surprised? After all, the whole point of giving a gift is that the recipient does not know what the gift is. There’s nothing more impersonal and sterile than someone undoing the wrapping paper and just nodding, like, “Yep, just what I asked for.” The real joy in giving is witnessing the joy of receiving. That means the joy of surprise. So, what do we do?
Okay, since you asked, here’s what you do. However, first, disclaimer time: Pets Global does not guarantee this will result in 1) surprise, or 2) a happy human-pet relationship, or 3) any other positive outcome. This is merely a suggestion that could help (the key words being: suggestion, could, and help). Here we go. You will want to plan this well ahead of time. Find out from your recipient, either directly or indirectly, whether they are serious about raising a dog or cat. If the answer is no, then stop there and you won’t have to think about this again.
If the answer is yes, however, then determine if the recipient is capable of raising a dog or cat. This will require a little detective work on your part, and the conclusion is completely your judgement call. Again, if the answer is yes, then you will have to plan the critical move. There are several questions you need to ask: how far away is their birthday, how far away is Christmas, and is the recipient planning to adopt a pet? If yes, then you will need to thwart that plan until you are ready to strike, er, give the gift.
The benefit of a surprise gift doesn’t always have to be the gift itself, but can be the timing of the gift. So, even though the recipient knows you’re going to give them a certain thing, an unexpected timing can have the same joyous effect. Hopefully, with careful planning, and maybe a coconspirator or two, you can surprise your special someone with the gift of a loving pet, and have it be a successful gift.
One last tip is that you should also have a plan in place just in case the gift doesn’t go as you planned it. Circumstances can change, such as a new job or acceptance into a school program. A pet is a life, and it never had a choice in this endeavor. If you’re going to give a pet as a gift, you should also be responsible for that life if things go awry. Talk to a shelter about your plans, and see if they’d be willing to take in a dog or pet that needs a new home. That way, there’s a course of action already in place so that the dog or cat does not have to be in limbo longer than it has to.
Please let us know your thoughts on this topic and/or give us feedback here or on Facebook.