Don’t give a dog as a Christmas present. At least not as a spur of the moment gift. But if you are planning to get a dog anyway, why not? If you are aware that your “present” is alive and, with luck, will live many years, you will give an enormous gift to the dog as well. A home – permanent and loving.
The St. Thomas Animal Shelter gives you a $75 spay/neuter rebate when you adopt an eligible pet (at least did so at time of writing). Wherever you live, if you can give a dog or cat a home, please do.
Adopting from a rescue group or pound rather than a pet store or off Kijiji or Craig’s List means you also are not supporting puppy mills or backyard breeders. Support “No-Kill” shelters, but adopt from any shelter or pound. Don’t let more pets be killed just because they couldn’t get adopted in 3 or 7 days.
If you can’t have a pet, give to an animal shelter or rescue group. Money is always welcome, or ask what is needed. They always have a wish list of goods they need most.
If you’d like a connection with a specific dog but can’t have one, sponsor a shelter dog. You give a monthly donation in the name of that dog and you’re welcome to spend time with “your” dog. If your shelter doesn’t have such a programme, you can do it unofficially. Shelters generally always welcome volunteers who will play with dogs, walk them and clean kennels. That’s a way you can spend time with your special dog and help all of them.
If you could have a dog but can’t commit for the long term, consider fostering. You’ll have to give him or her up when a permanent home is found, but you’ll have the fun of canine companionship until then. It’s work too. You have to properly socialize the dog, but you’ll learn as much as the dog does. If you’re a post-secondary student and wish you could have a Puppy (or Kitty) Room at home, talk to an animal shelter near you. Some are happy to have students foster dogs and cats.
If you like driving, volunteer with a group such as Open Arms Pound Rescue. They need people to drive animals to new homes or to shelters where there’s a better chance of finding homes. If you’re a pilot and love excuses to go flying, check out Pilots N Paws (USA) or talk to your buddies about setting up something similar in conjunction with a rescue group or shelter.
Everything above also applies to cats, horses and other domestic animals. There are rescue groups for all of them across the country. Give an animal somewhere a very happy holiday season. It will make you happy too.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 10, 2012, minus information on adoption events specific to that time. (Below and right are Amazon links to some Christmas dog stories that look guaranteed to make you cry happy tears.)