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As Christmas is approaching, the race begins to get what many people think is going to be the most wonderful gift for Christmas – a puppy. But it’s important to remember that a Dog or any other animal for that matter are not just for Christmas – they’re for life.
First of all, let me be clear. We do not advise getting a dog as a Christmas present as dogs are not and should not be viewed as materialistic items. They are loveable creatures with a heart, soul, emotions and form a bond with humans that is unbreakable. However, there are those who will completely disregard that and So, on that note, we decided to run a feature series on Dogs at Christmas, getting a dog for Christmas, what’s involved.In part 1, we take a look at why it is completely irresponsible and heartless to disregard a senior dog to make room for that Christmas puppy. While we don’t aim to offend, some may find that this post does not represent their own views.
Dog trust’s, Pound’s, Kennel’s,Animal Charities and animal welfare groups across the country are struggling and suffering under the weight of animals who are just being abandoned or dropped by families who no longer want their pet’s. The intake of animals by these wonderful rescue centres has a tendency to surge at this time of year for a number of reasons and we’re going to touch on a particular one for this article. The surge in intakes that many rescue centres do experience at this time of year occurs partly due to the number of “older” dogs that are surrendered in order to make way for the “Christmas Puppy”.
Bear in mind, this is not a reflection on all dog owners who give up their dogs, some dog owners have genuine and heart-breaking reasons why they can’t keep a dog any longer and it breaks their hearts to give up their dog. This particular feature relates to the stupid dog owners or future dog owners who have no common sense and see dogs as nothing more than a tangiable item or accessory. Again, not a reflection on everyone so don’t go jumping the gun and attacking me over this.
Introducing the Out with the old in with the new ideology
So the first scenario in our series of posts here is aimed at those who suddenly decide they want to get a cute puppy to replace their older dog. Quite often, shelters are so full at this time of year because of what I like to call trading up. This is where dog owners surrender the older dog to a rescue shelter in order to make room for their new adorable puppy that they plan on putting underneath the christmas tree for Christmas morning.
So why does this happen? Well lets paint that picture for you. Quite often the problem here is that it’s a Christmas present for the children who have cried, thrown temper tantrums and screamed for months on end because the want a puppy for Christmas. They already have a dog though who is 10 years old, and is tired and not as playful as they once were and that dog doesn’t have the energy to play with hyper kids anymore. This dog likes his rest and wants to just chill and relax and go for peaceful walks. But the child doesn’t want that. The child “thinks” they want a new puppy who is going to be full of energy, run around all day, play with you, jump up on you, lick your face, and be that amazing buddy who’s going to do everything with you. Sure the dog will be all of these things most likely. But if your child is not interested in your current dog, well, it won’t take too long before they get bored of the puppy also. But nonetheless, the child screams until the parents give in and agree to get this puppy but in the interim, it has been decided that two dogs would be way too much. So, instead of opting not to get another pup, they decide that the older dog should be given a new home and such surrender this loyal faithful companion to a shelter.
I won’t lie, this type of behaviour is disgusting. How quick people are to disregard the old in our society to bring in something new and cute. That dog that you’re abandoning to make way for a “new model” has probably been your most loyal companion, best friend, amigo and shadow for so many years and all of a sudden you’re just willing to break that dogs heart and toss it aside like yesterdays trash. This dog has stuck by you for so many years and now because they’re old, you decided you want to replace with a young puppy who will be full of life, its quite a heartless thing to do.
Consider this, you have a 10 year old child and are expecting a new baby within the next couple of weeks. Are you suddenly going to get bored of your 10 year old child and surrender him/her because you want the cute baby instead? No! You’re not. So why do it to the canine member of your family who has loved you and worshipped the ground you walk on for so long? A dog is not an outdated games console that you can replace with a newer model when it’s released.
If that doesn’t resonate with you (must be stone cold hearted if that’s the case) then maybe this will. You come home one day to find out that the man who you have been married to for 15 years is leaving you. You ask him why, and he tells you that you’re too old and you’re no good in bed anymore. You have no energy and he’s bored of you. This man is now leaving you for a 20 something year old who is much more energetic and can give him what he needs. Again, how would you feel about being tossed aside just because you’re moving forward a few years and don’t have as much energy as you once did. Just because you’re not as spritely as you once were, doesn’t mean the love that you feel was gone and it doesn’t mean your heart will hurt any less.
Despite what many people I have encountered in my life believe, dogs are emotional animals, they feel the exact same emotions that we as humans do, love, sadness, happiness, loneliness, heartache and heartbreak. This has been unequivocally proven by Dr. Gregory Berns who has for the last 7 years conducted an ongoing MRI experiment to determine if dogs love us for more than just food. And of course they do, his research is fascinating and to see what goes on at the epicentre of a dogs brain when exposed to certain situations says so much more about Check more details out here.
As someone who has been around dogs all my life, and on the path to becoming a fully qualified Canine behaviour specialist in addition to completely numerous courses in canine psychology, I spend much of my days gazing into dogs eyes trying to understand exactly what it is theyre telling us and what goes on inside of their mind. On every visit to a sanctuary like Limerick Animal Welfare, Madra, Dogs Trust and more, I see a story of how they got there. I see how a dog wants to just be loved, held and adored. I also see a sadness in their eyes that tells a tale of how they once had a home and are lonely and want a new best friend to love the same way they gave unconditional love to their last humans despite being surrendered. What I am always shocked to see, particularly at this time of year is the proportion of older dogs that reside in these sanctuaries, many of which have only been surrendered in December. These are dogs that are so full of life and just want to be someones best friend just like they once had.
So I want you to ask yourself a few questions for me if you’re considering surrendering your old dog to make way for a new puppy this festive season:
Why do you need to give up the older dog in the first place?
How do you know that this dog who has been in your life for so long won’t adore, love and cherish the new little puppy you’re bringing into your home? Sure, it will take a few days for them to get used to each other but this is something that you should consider when you’re thinking of getting a new puppy.
How can you actually be so cruel to go about doing this?
This dog that you’re about to give up to make room for a puppy has a heart and if you give this dog up you’re going to break that heart into smithereens. I want you to take a minute and consider everything that they have been through with you, all the love they’ve given you, the countless days, they’ve spent waiting for you to come in the door before jumping with joy to see you, the long enjoyable walks you’ve had together the endless nights they’ve cuddled with you on the couch and the bed, and the days where you were sick that they knew and just wanted to mind you.
How would you feel if it was you that was being surrendered to a shelter
Now I want you to consider how you would feel if the tables are turned. What if your dog decided to give you up, abandon you and surrender you to somewhere that’s equal to an animal shelter, how would you feel? Going to take a guess on this, and say that you would feel pretty crap, confused and even heartbroken about it. This is exactly how our dogs feel, so please do not put your dog through this unnecessary pain and heartbreak.
What I’m asking is that you consider for a moment what giving up your dog to make room for that new puppy will actually do to your dogs emotional state, how devastating it will be for them and how you would feel if the tables were turned. Yes, there are people who have genuinely good reasons which are often very heartbreaking for giving up their best friend of 10 years. However surrendering your dog to make way for a new Christmas puppy is not the answer. Sanctuaries like the ones listed above are overwhelmed at this time of year and guess what – in a couple of weeks, it will be so much worse. because the Christmas puppy didn’t work out.
So take a few steps back this Christmas if you’re thinking of surrendering your dog to make room for that Christmas puppy, think of the emotional effects it will have on your dog and also consider for just a moment how it will affect the sanctuaries who are already struggling with the numbers of dogs in their care. It’s Christmas, a time when our hearts are meant to shine, and a time when we’re meant to show love for everyone. Abandoning your older dog to make room for that puppy, thats not love that’s just cruel.
This special christmas series is brought to you by pawpals.ie, a new social platform for dog owners launching in January 2020.