Those thinking of getting a pet for Christmas should consider the move carefully. It involves commitment.
Budgeting funds for food and veterinary care is one concern. Spaying or neutering is a one-time cost, but some animals require professional grooming, and dogs require licenses.
Allocating time and attention is an even bigger responsibility. Those considering whether to acquire a dog or cat should plan to spend time each day exercising and interacting with their pet.
And they should plan on that commitment lasting a lifetime. They might bring home a puppy or kitten, but they eventually will have a dog or a cat. The adult version can differ greatly from the young version.
In some respects, that's good; puppies are cute, for example, but both ends can cause trouble until the pooch is trained. Yet the youthful stage lasts just months; pets live for years.
Couples who think caring for a pet may provide a preview of how they'd handle starting a family should ponder that point. If all goes according to plan. the couple would be caring for an infant and a dog or cat.
Of course, people who want a pet could forego the puppy or kitten stage and adopt an adult animal. That's highly commendable. But before going to a shelter, consider why pets end up there. Often, it's because a former owner no longer has the time or money to care for them properly.
We're not advising against making the decision to care for a pet. We just ask that anyone considering such a choice first commit to thinking through the decision before taking on the responsibility. The reward can be a gift that keeps on giving - as long as the owner promises to give in return.