Many children dream of opening a perfectly wrapped box on Christmas morning and have a snugly little puppy jump into their arms. We, as parents, know that this cartoon-like dream is simply not feasible. With the big holiday rush engulfing us having a chewing, potty training puppy or meowing kitten isn’t ideal. I’ve found some awesome alternatives to having an actual, live animal under the tree that will still show you understand the want for a pet and your decision about that.
If you’ve decided not to get the wanted pet, it can be hard to break it to your child. Sometimes it’s simply not a feasible thing to do especially if they want a specific, more expensive breed, you live in an apartment or other pet-unfriendly housing, or you simply can’t afford the time and money to invest in a animal. There are ways to soften the blow of “no”.
1. Try a stuffed animal. Believe it or not it works from time to time. My son has been after yet another kitty for quite some time and having 3 cats already I just can’t see adding another one to our family. I bought him a kitten sized stuffed cat and he sleeps with “Kitty” every single night. He carries “Kitty” around, feeds her, and loves her. It’s showing me he will be ready for his own cat soon, but just not at the moment.
2. Try giving another well-sought-after gift. I’m almost certain your child has more than one thing on his or her list. When s/he opens up the special gift make a big deal about it with oohs and ahhs. If they don’t have anything else their after, look at what they play with most or think is really ‘cool’ and guess. This may help take their mind off of the lack of a puppy licking her/his face. Try to avoid the missing pet if you can and see if your child was just after a pet because it was holiday time and they thought they could get one because of it. As a parent, we unfortunately can’t grant every one of our children’s wishes and we can only hope one day they’ll understand.
3. Off a handmade ‘gift certificate’ to visit a friends or relatives pet that your child loves. Being able to see this pet as often as s/he likes, without the clean up and care of it, may stifle the want for a pet of their own. Plus, the pet of choice will enjoy someone to give it extra love and attention. Take this time to show your child how much care and work goes into a pet’s health and happiness.
If you do plan on getting your child a pet, it’s not the best idea to try to shove a puppy in a box under the tree of course. You may not know what type or breed your dog is dreaming of. Here are some ways to show you’ve agreed to get a pet without actually having one there Christmas day.
1. If your local shelter, ASPCA, or animal organization offers it, buy a gift certificate to cover the cost of adoption. While most shelters routinely spay/neuter and vaccinate all animals that pass through their doors, some have fewer requirements for adoption or require the adopter cover costs before they’ll go on with the procedures. If the latter is the case, make sure you have enough put aside for these services. Try filling a box with all the things your new friend will need, like food, bowls, leash, collar, toys, puppy pads, the works and placing the gift certificate on top of the box.
2. Tell friends and family your plans and ask that they give cash or gift cards to pet stores in place of your child’s gift. After purchasing the pet with your child, bring the new critter along with you guys to PetCo or Petsmart to buys the necessities. Help educate your child on the different foods (and why each kind is or is not beneficial to your pets health), heart worm and flea/tick prevention (show them the different brands and kinds available), harness/collars, leaches, bowls, toys, etc. Enjoy a day showing off your new pet.
3. Ask a family member or friend to deliver the pet at just the right time. If Uncle Bob or Grandma are willing, adopt the pet in advance and let them babysit for a few days. When you start opening presents, give them a quick text message or call to let them know when to come. You can also set this up for after breakfast or lunch when things have calmed down.
Hopefully with the advice above can help you have an enjoyable holiday! Having a pet is a big responsibility so be sure to give your child all the advice they need to properly care for the new animal.