Why new puppies are the wrong way to your true love’s heart
By Leslie Phelan
When you’re in love, you want to give your sweetheart the world on a silver platter. You want to adorn them with all things lovely, fragrant, delicious and sweet: everything that represents what they bring to your life.
When you are single on V-day, you see through the cheesy romantic traditions and laugh (sometimes bitterly and slightly green-eyed) at all the silly saps who rush to buy out Tiffany’s and Godiva like oh-so-predictable slaves to the Hallmark status quo. But on those more enchanted Februaries when you might find yourself playing for the red-and-pink team, you’re right there in line with the rest of ‘em, with a smile plastered ear-to-ear across your goofy, love-struck face. With romance in the air, sound decision-making seems carried off on the breeze, leaving people to their sweet-intentioned impulses. So if there will be only ONE shred of judgment you hang onto this year, let it be this: that giving a puppy as a gift is more often than not a truly, awfully, bad, bad idea. Here are the five biggest reasons why:
Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash
1. No returns, non-refundable
Jewels, watches, technological devices, lingerie, fuzzy sweaters, pink pajamas, perfumes, trips– all returnable, if not transferable. Chocolates, candies, gift cards, naughty toys, flowers – all re-giftable if not just discreetly thrown away. Pets – very different. Not easily returnable, not easily re-giftable, and never okay to throw away. Yes, to give a pet is a grand gesture that is sure to dazzle, but once reality sets in and the commitment that comes along with properly house-breaking a puppy begins to show itself, there is no responsible way to opt out.
2. If you’re unsure, avoid resentment
Let’s say your partner does accept your gift, then later realizes the puppy doesn’t fit into his or her busy social calendar and work life. Even if they do manage to give the puppy away, chances are, they may end up feeling quite guilty about it, and that guilt could easily morph into feelings of resentment towards you for having walked them into such an unfavorable situation in the first place. Sticky stuff. Awkward AF. Avoid putting yourself here at all costs.
Photo by Nathalie Spehner on Unsplash
3. Bred with too-perfect timing
We all know that puppy mills exist, but few of us know how to spot the difference between a well-bred dog and the type that are less-conscientiously bred, and the difference is even harder to tell when they are puppies and cute as can be. When they’re small and fresh, we can’t foresee the issues that may arise – all we see is cute and fluffy. Well, one tell-all clue could be their very timing in the pet store: if the breeder seems too conveniently full of fresh and fluffies right around the common gift-giving times of year, that could be a hint that they were bred to take advantage of that holiday season money. Check out the attitude on your contact – if they seem more interested in your credit card than testing whether you would give this baby animal a good home, something may not be right, and this purchase could be supporting a most heinous and inhumane industry.
4. Without proper prep, frustration sets in
Pets should not be a surprise. They should be a carefully considered decision that is the result of a lot of thinking and discussing. They are not like a goldfish in a bowl; they change a household in many huge ways because they are living, breathing beings who become members of the family with their own set of needs, wants, and issues. Yes, any dog lover knows they can be the greatest blessing and source of love and joy, but for the unprepared and inexperienced person who has a great responsibility like this thrust upon them by surprise, it can be tiresome, frustrating, and feel like a curse wrapped in a cute animal’s body.
5. Give AND Receive
Not to state the obvious, but the costs associated with the proper care of a puppy can be astronomical. Unless you are planning to give a gift certificate covering all of the present and future veterinary, grooming, and food costs that the average dog owner will encounter throughout the dog’s life, you may be signing up your sweetheart for a whole lot of money woes if they aren’t financially prepared for such an undertaking. (see: resentment. Again.)
So, unless you’ve looked at this from all angles WITH your sweetheart and NOT on behalf of them, giving a puppy as a Valentine’s Day gift is not a smart call. Stick with the gifts that are edible or refundable and don’t need to be walked three times a day. And if your heart is really set on some canine companionship for yourself and your love, consider signing up for a dog fostering program so that you can get your toes wet before taking the big plunge! That is true love.