Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Throw-Away Puppy”
It seems like every holiday I see a post that is similar to this. Don’t give a new dog for Christmas. Don’t give rabbits/ducks for Easter. Don’t get turkey’s for Thanksgiving (apparently a thing out here in rural Missouri). So when my oldest son asked for a turtle for his birthday this year, I immediately said no. Of course, in his mind, this wasn’t fair. His younger brother had bought a beta fish with his birthday money. As such he thought he deserved something similar. I told him there was a big difference between a fish that lives for a few years at most and a turtle that can live up to 50+ years. If he was getting a turtle, he was in for a life-time commitment and he was too young to make that decision (at 37 I think I’m too young to make that decision).
Too many people live in the now. They want instant gratification. When that gratification wears off, they tend to move on to the next thing. This is the main reason why pets make terrible gifts: they are long term commitments. For context, lets look at how long.
The average life of a dog and a cat depending on a breed is 12 years. This assumes they are healthy for most of their life. For a horse 25-30 years. Rabbits are 10 year commitments. Hamsters and Guinea pigs fall into the 2-5 year range. Snakes, depending on the breed can live between 15-20 years. Goldfish are a lot harder to tell. Though most don’t live past a year, many have lived for decades with the oldest one in captivity living to 43. The lifespan off all of these pets illustrates the same thing: if you take on the responsibility, you should realize you are in it or the long haul.
But let’s say I’m in it for the long haul, then what? Well then you have to look at the financials. Like children, pets require food, doctor’s visits, medicine, toys, attention, and money. Sure, there upkeep tends to be a lot less then a human, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored completely. I estimated I spent hundreds on my dog this year alone. Next year will be more. In 2019 Americans spent $95.7 billion on their animals. Though 2020 isn’t over, people now think that number is closer to $100 billion. If you use your animals for work or competition (a different discussion) you would also more than likely insure your animals adding to the cost.
Now let’s say you’re willing to take on the commitment and the cost all to make your child happy on that Christmas morning. Now you have created another problem. You have denied your child the experience of choosing your pet. The day before we decided to get Max Max, my wife and I went to the shelter. There we found a dog I thought the boys would like. We interacted with it, my wife and I both liked it and we were going to buy it. While we were in the process of doing the paperwork, the lady asked us if we had children. Saying we did, she said “they will love it.” This gave my wife pause. What if they didn’t love it? She decided, it would be best for the boys to pick out the dog. So, we stopped, came back the next day, and the boys were not excited about it. They in turn chose Max Max. And Max Max chose them.
This is a roundabout way of saying that Chemistry is required. If you don’t have chemistry, it is going to be both unfair to the pet and the recipient. They child will never interact with it because they don’t want it. They will treat it like a discarded toy or broken game. The pet, especially if it has been abused or neglected in the past, is never going to get the attention it deserves, perhaps causing it to act out in ways you would not expect.
This brings to me to my final issue: behavior. Pets are not people. Sure you can teach it a few tricks and where to go to release their bowels, but that is the extent of it. What are you going to do with your pet when you travel? Who will be responsible for making sure it is fed? Are you willing to get up at 3am because your pet needs to go potty? Are you going to punish your dog for peeing at the door every time someone rings the door bell? They ripe, tear, and chew on everything. What happens when they destroy your new sofa? And yet, they are wonderful, more forgiving than people, and are ecstatic for the little bit of attention they get. Pets can be all the best parts of people with none of the worst parts. Perhaps that is why a survey in 2019 found that 34% of people would call their pet their favorite child.
To the mom in the above post I would say your criticism is well deserved. To everyone else who wants a pet or wants to give a pet I would say, do your research. All parties involved will be better served by it.