I am truly amazed at how many people I know or have spoken to that have either already gotten a puppy for Christmas or are getting one. Puppies are not gifts like toys. They are a lifelong responsibility. Just because they are cute and bring so much joy, the decision should be made with great care and research into what is involved.
I have two older shelter dogs, Bambi and Toby. They are absolutely amazing, calm, loving dogs who have never chewed up anything or caused any problems because when I got them they were already older, housetrained and calm. (Although in the shelter they did not seem that way) I walk them every day and am blessed to have the Nazareth dog park down the street from me.
In recent weeks, I have run into so many people who have gotten puppies. Each and every one of them complains to me about how much work they are, how high energy they are, and that they are destroying things in their house. They ask me why my dogs are so calm and well behaved. Well, first of all, I rescue older dogs who are past these young issues.
Over 60% of the dogs in the shelters get there because people get puppies without researching the breeds and the responsibilities. When they are turned in, owners claim the dog is no good, or untrainable...when really a dog is a reflection of its owner's energy.
Anyone familiar with the dog whisperer Cesar Milan knows that. He always says he "trains people and rehabilitates dogs."
In the therapy world, we know that dogs and other animals, like horses, reflect their owners' personalities and energies. So my dogs are calm because I am calm. My dogs are fit and healthy because I am fit and healthy, thanks to walking them every day.
So why are people still getting puppies for Christmas when our shelters are full of good dogs looking for good homes? Believe me, I talk to people at the dog park. Many people tell me they never had any luck with a dog from the shelter. It's not about luck, it's about patience and love. Give a dog those two things, and be those things yourself, and you'll have a good dog. Add a good diet and exercise and it will be even better.
Some people are afraid and don't understand the shelter conditions. So they say they walk a dog at a shelter and all it does is pull them...well if you were locked up in a small cage all day, every day...I'd say you too would want to run off some energy first chance you get. When I first found Bambi in the shelter she was just like that. I couldn't even control her that first day. Once she was home with us, no longer in a cage, had a backyard to run in and a regular daily walk, she was fine.
Puppies can take years to get to the point of calmness. They are like kids. From childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Stages they have to go through that take about 3 years in a dog's life. Adult shelter dogs take a few weeks to a few months of getting acclimated to their new homes, surroundings, and family.
I also often hear from people the idea that older dogs are sick and cost money. Well, let me tell you, I hear many stories at the dog park of people who get pure breed puppies, often overbred, and they start having issues and health problems far earlier than any healthy shelter mutt.
My Bambi is, a Husky/Golden mix and is about 12 years old now and has never had a health problem. My latest dog, Toby did suffer from seizures. His paperwork at the Allentown shelter said he was about 9 years old (vet said more like 6) and suffered from grand mal seizures once a month. We knew this going in. He was so sweet and gentle I knew that if we didn't take him, no one else would, and he'd be put down because of his age and condition.
It didn't happen overnight, but after a few months of trial and error with medications, we finally got him on a simple and very inexpensive phenobarbital...and he has been seizure free ever since. He just needed someone to try! Isn't that something we all need? Someone, to give us a chance?
So next time you are thinking of that cute puppy in the window, remember they are only that for a few short months...then the real work begins. Are you really up for it? Have you researched your breed to see how much exercise they need? Or are you just trying to please your children, who play with their Christmas toys for a few months and then move on to other things?
Rescue. It's worth it. It's like the dogs and cats know they are being rescued and are forever grateful. If you find your dog being a bit neurotic, check in with yourself. Dogs do reflect our energy and that of the household...meditate, it will help you both. You can download a free meditation on my website or purchase some here.
If you do decide on a puppy, do your research first. A life may depend on. Give freely to your local shelter. Check their website and see what they need. I dropped off food at my local food bank the other day, I was pleasantly surprised that I had to wait in line to do so. Let's not forget about our 4 legged beings who also need food and shelter. Donate there too.