The holiday season is a common time people consider including a pet on their list of best gifts ever given.  Nothing is more exciting than the vision of the look of surprise and delight on the recipient’s face when they see the winning combination of an adorable animal and bows in the same package.  Maybe it isn’t even a gift but an expression of the holiday season’s spirit of generosity and charity to all creatures. Before taking the plunge, there are some factors that may help decide if the timing is right to add a furry family member to the mix.  

If this is a gift, did the person asks for the pet specifically…more than one time?  Can the new pet parent lovingly care for this new family member for the rest of its life?   Pet parenting sometimes takes a village so are you willing to help care for this pet throughout its life if maybe the person has a change of heart or availabilities? Is there enough time to find an animal that suits what your recipient is looking for in a companion or what they are capable of physically?  Do they have all the basics covered from a husbandry standpoint or should you include more items like food or bedding? Can the person easily meet the financial commitment required for taking care of this animal during its life? Is there a lag time between when you find the perfect companion and the timing of when they might be able to join the family (even shelters may have a delay between selecting a pet and taking it home) that takes planning if this is going to be a holiday surprise?  Is the weather or the person’s travel schedule during this time of year going to work for the initial few months of bonding?

Sometimes it is absolutely the perfect gift but the logistics are too tricky to accomplish during a holiday timeline.  Perhaps consider getting all the items needed to take care of a new companion like collars, beds, food, etc, and placing a surrogate stuffed animal in with them to represent your intention.  Doing the leg work on bringing home a new pet can be a great gift unto itself and the moral support of helping someone choose the perfect companion will be another way to connect with the person.  

If you aren’t sure or have decided that maybe the time is not quite right but the idea is still exciting, maybe brainstorm other ways that you can help the person get their animal fix without a super long-term commitment.  Can you work out the logistics to volunteer with animals together? Many shelters need constant help with the care of the pets they are trying to place in forever homes. Could you help arrange a way for the person to try on pet parenthood by giving a neighbor, school classroom, or friend a hand with their animals?  These experiences will frequently be very valuable to someone looking to explore if and what kind of companion is right for them.  

Gifts are ideally a link between the giver and the receiver that will be a great shared memory for years to come.  Finding the perfect fit takes work and careful consideration to get right. Nothing is more beautiful or rewarding than seeing that genuine connection that occurs between an animal and its people. The fact that you have taken time to think about how best to empathize with both the animal and its future family shows the depth of how much you care.

Photo Credit to Michael’s Pack

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