A Dog for the Holidays

 

tasha tree

I’ve seen a hundred commercials and advertisements that feature a wriggling little puppy in a Christmas stocking. Or an idyllic scene where the parents tell their young offspring “oh, look, there’s one more present” before retrieving an adorable, floppy eared canine that melts the heart. We all want to make our children’s dreams come true. And what child doesn’t want a cute puppy for Christmas? It’s heartwarming to think of all the animals given homes for the holidays, but what about those who are abandoned at an animal shelter months later? What about dogs like my Tasha?

Last night, I was looking through Tasha’s adoption paperwork, trying to see if her real date of birth was listed. I found something else that brought tears to my ears and ripped out my heart. Tasha had been abandoned at the animal shelter at Christmastime. I don’t know what Tasha’s early life was like or how she ended up at the San Antonio animal shelter. I do know that this is a reality for far too many cats and dogs. Animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted animals who are looking for a good home. These animals are confused. Heartbroken. They can’t understand why their family didn’t want them anymore.

Dogs and cats are a lifetime commitment. They love you and depend on you. If you abandon them, it is devastating. It’s cruel. And it’s avoidable. If you have any doubts about your ability to care for a new animal, don’t adopt.

Think you might like to adopt a dog for the holidays? Consider these points before you do:

  • Dogs chew. A lot. Tasha has destroyed shoes, socks, dog toys, two blankets, our car insurance card, and a backpack. Despite our best efforts to watch her carefully, she will still occasionally get a hold of something she’s not supposed to have. If you’re extremely attached to your possessions, you might want to think carefully before adopting a dog.
  • Dogs have accidents. Tasha was very anxious when we adopted her. She had five accidents the first day. On week two, she had extreme stomach upset, meaning I was outside in the rain with her in the middle of the night. She has a very finicky tummy, so this has happened more than once. If you hate having your sleep interrupted, a puppy definitely isn’t for you.
  • Dogs need attention. They need love, exercise, and play time. Dogs crave love and affection from their families. They need it.
  • Your kids won’t help you. Kids will make all sorts of promises. “But, Mom you won’t have to take the dog outside. I’ll do everything.” Do not believe them. If you’re the type of parent who will force you child to get rid of the family dog as punishment for them not taking care of their responsibilities as a pet owner, please for the love of God, do not adopt a dog. It’s better to accept the fact that you, as the adult, will be responsible for all aspects of the dog’s care. If your child won’t follow through on their promises, punish the child (take away TV time, video games, etc.). Do not punish the dog. And if you are vehemently opposed to taking responsibility for any aspect of the dog’s care, you shouldn’t adopt. Everyone in my house is expected to pitch in and help take care of the dog, whether the dog “belongs to them” or not.
  • Your whole life will change. Tasha adjusted to our family structure when we adopted her. And we adjusted to her. Actually, I think we did the most adjusting. To be honest, I was a pretty sedentary person before we adopted Tasha. All that changed when she came into our lives. I walk her at least four times per day. We do training exercises, go to the dog park, go on play dates (yes, really), and have lots and lots of cuddle time and belly rubs. When we adopted her, my husband missed a family outing to an amusement park because we didn’t want to leave Tasha home all day alone. We have changed or completely abandoned plans because it conflicted with Tasha’s routine. She’s not an accessory to our lives, sitting at home on the couch waiting for us to remember to play with her. She’s family. Any addition to your family should be life-changing.
  • Dogs  are totally worth it. Tasha has been with us for six months and I can’t imagine life without her. She has brought so much love and joy into my life. I adore her. The broken sleep, accidental puddles, walks in the freezing rain, shredded socks, vet bills, everything – it’s all worth it.

If you decide to adopt a dog (or cat), please consider visiting a local animal shelter or rescue agency. Most shelters are overflowing, and in many cases, if a dog isn’t adopted within a certain amount of time, they are put to sleep. Also note that animal shelters are very grateful for donations. You can check their websites to see what items they need most.

tasha


17 thoughts on “A Dog for the Holidays

  1. Great advice Tricia. Glad you blogged this. I cannot visit the animal shelter, I would bring them all home. After losing my two chihuahuas, one in August and the other in September of this year, I do want another. I discussed it with my husband and we are going to wait until after the holidays. Holidays are stressful on animals. I don’t want a puppy, they do chew, a lot. But I don’t want hospice dogs either. My chis were both old and in poor health. I often commented that I felt I was running a hospice for old dogs. We had a mostly beagle who passed away about 2 years ago and she was old, blind, deaf and you had to hand her food to her. One of the chihuahuas got like that. She could barely see if she saw at all. She could hear a little, I think, but only if it was very loud and close to her. Her arthritis hurt her. I recognized the look on her face when she would get up. It’s the same look I have on my face some days.

    The younger chi had some health issues. She’d just had surgery and the doctor told us her heart was not strong. We gave her medicine every day for her blood pressure, and other things. She was deaf, but could still see very well and still tried to hop around sometimes. I loved that dog. I loved all of them, but that little black and white chi was the sweetest dog I ever had.

    We have a fairly new rescue but he’s bonded closely with my husband. A big dog, he’s a scaredy cat. The first thunderstorm when he was home alone, he ate most of the end of one of my couches. So now we have doggie downers for him on the 4th of July, New Years, bad storms, etc.

    But I want a little dog to sit with me and love me the most. I want my chis back. But there are a lot of little chihuahuas. I know there are a lot of them. I don’t mind an older dog, just not one that I have to go through end of life with again so soon. I prefer the long haired ones. I’m hoping and waiting. All our animals are rescues, even the cats. I know there’s a chihuahua out there for me.

    This is a great blog post. A pet is a lifetime commitment, either for the animal’s life, or yours, whichever ends first. Yes, it’s like having a child. With all the responsibility come many and varied blessings.

    Merry Christmas all.

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    1. I’m so sorry about your precious Chihuahuas. 😦 I know how much you miss them and you always will. Our dog Rudy (a Chihuahua/ Jack Russel mix) passed away over 3 years ago, and I still cry over him. For a long time, I didn’t want another dog. It hurts too much when they get older and pass away. But my husband and son finally wore me down and we adopted Tasha. I didn’t want a puppy. Tasha was about a year old when we adopted her, but she still chews like crazy. (She ate a Christmas ornament a couple of hours ago. I have no idea how she got it off the tree.) A young dog is like having a toddler. I have to keep an eye on her. I have to keep her active and engaged. She wakes me up really, really early in the morning. But she sure is worth it. I hope you find the perfect Chihuahua for you. I know he or she is out there!

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  2. We adopted a cat once, shortly after we were married. Sassy was her name, and boy, did she live up to it. We eventually had to give her up, not because we couldn’t care for her, but because we didn’t think it was fair to have her contained in a very small room while we were remodeling our house. We didn’t want her to get hurt or worse, and every time I think of her, it makes my heart ache. I wish we hadn’t had to give her up, and I hope she found a loving family to take her in.

    Having outside cats now, I think of her often and hope she’s happy. Pets really do change your life, even if they don’t stay with you for long.

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  3. The kind of people who adopt an animal from a shelter are the kind of people who are looking for a friend, and want to help one in distress. Not everyone is like that though. Many people acquire an animal the same way they acquire a new sofa. It has to look right, fit in with the house style and do what it says on the tin. They know that many animal breeders are unscrupulous cruel brutes. But they don’t care. Not all breeders are cruel and some people try to find a good one before they buy their pet. It boils down to the same sort of mind set though—wanting a particular thing rather than a friend.

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  4. Well said. We adopted both our cats. I can’t have a dog, I can’t walk far enough and it wouldn’t be fair. The first was really batty but with a bit of advice from a very smart vet and a cat charity, he became the sweetest, softest hearted fellow going. I still miss him. Our latest was a kitten bread to raise money for a rescue shelter by one of the workers there. He is an absolute four star nutter but he is gradually settling down and we love him utterly. For example, he wants me to go to bead now so he’s standing with his back legs on the back of the sofa and his front legs on my shoulder pulling my hair with his teeth and going ‘brrrrrmmph’. Also, people who don’t like having their faces licked in the morning will be no better off with a cat. Mine licks my closed eyes to wake me up.

    Cheers

    MTM

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    1. We’ve got two cats and they absolutely loathe our dog. After six months, we still have baby gates posted all around the house so the cats have safe “dog free” zones. Also, it helps keep the dog from chewing up the entire house. I’m longing for the day when our cats and dog can live together in peace and harmony, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I wonder if the cats will ever forgive me for bringing the dog into their lives. They might not forgive, but they do accept bribes in the form of food.

      Our cats haven’t licked our eyelids to wake us up, but Pixel will sit on your chest and meow until you turn on the kitchen sink. She likes to drink running water.

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  5. Words of wosdom as usual honey, I’m so thrilled you have a new addition to your family. You know I’m totally biased, I LOVE doggies and would walk over hot coals for my boys. They are totally worth every chewed shoe and mud splattered wall, and yes, although my freedom has been curtailed somewhat, whatever I may lose I get double back in the love and companionship they give. Well done sweetie! 😀 xxx

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