I was a gift.

My person loves to tell the story of how her boyfriend showed up on her doorstep with a little black fluffball with a little white goatee. Which, of course, was me. And as you can guess, it worked out pretty well. But my person and I feel, at this time of the year, that it is important that we reveal the rest of the story.

What a cute puppy!

Well, yes, I was pretty stinking cute, if I do say so myself. And you might be thinking, hey! I have an idea…a puppy with a big red bow would be a perfect last-minute gift for (fill in the blank)! Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get a cute little puppy?

Belle as a puppy

The rest of the story

And here’s the really important part: My person and her significant other person talked about me a lot before I ever showed up.

  • They talked about how much she loved dogs.
  • They talked about how she’d never had her own dog and might need help learning to take care of one.
  • They talked about her work schedule and how she’d make sure the dog got all the walking, training and playing time it needed.
  • They talked to her roommate to see if she wanted a furry, four-legged friend in the house.
  • They talked to her landlord to see if he would allow me to join the family.
  • They talked about what size of dog would be best for her.
  • They talked about the cost of food, toys and vet bills.
They talked about all of this and more, before I was found on the streets of Los Angeles. And because they did this, when I showed up at the front door, I was welcomed and found my forever home.

And they lived happily ever after!

My story has a happy ending…but it easily could have turned out differently. Getting a puppy, or any kind of pet, is a lifetime commitment – and if you don’t know what you’re getting into, it could be a disaster. So before you open someone else’s home to a new pup, make sure they are willing, able, and happy to make that commitment. Here are some things to remember:

Trends are for clothes, not dogs

Remember 101 Dalmatians? How many Dalmatian puppies do you think got adopted, only to be returned to the shelter after their unsuspecting families realized how much care they needed? How many Wookiee-ish dogs will that happen to in the wake of the new Star Wars movie?

Cartoon dog collection
A dog must be chosen with the needs and capabilities of the home in mind – not the latest movie, video game or app on the market. Does the dog need lots of exercise? Maybe a home with a yard and an athletic owner is the best match. Does the dog get along with other dogs? Cats? Children? Make sure you know how a specific dog will deal with the environment that exists, otherwise that dog is likely to end up getting returned.

Parents will be pet parents

Dogs can make wonderful gifts for children – we help them learn responsibility and empathy, we get them playing with something other than Minecraft, and oh my goodness, do we love them. But when you decide to get a puppy for your child, know that you will be the primary caregiver in this scenario. Don’t get me wrong – kids can certainly help out, and they will probably love doing so! It’s a great idea to give them jobs as they are ready to handle them – a toddler can set my water bowl down in the right place, an older child can measure out my food, and a teenager can walk me and teach me tricks. But ultimately, it’s the adult’s responsibility to make sure everything is done correctly, safely, and properly – and to make sure that I am given all the care that I need. I may be a gift for a child, but I belong to the adult.

I will make mistakes

There is no dog that has not had an accident in the house, chewed something they shouldn’t have chewed, or otherwise messed up. I am living proof:

So…was I not supposed to do that?


Belle thinking about having destroyed the cupboard

I am lucky that my person sees beyond my…issues…and forgives me when I shred the trash…or her book…or the wall. Now, not all dogs are going to do that, but I promise you they will do something that they shouldn’t, and probably more than once! We need to know that you will forgive us and teach us the right things to do…and forgive us again when we don’t.

Rescue responsibly

I highly encourage you to go to your local shelter or rescue group and save a dog…or two…or fifty. But please, please make sure that if you are giving a puppy as a gift, that it is not a surprise and that you are not making a life-long commitment for someone else. A new puppy should be a joyous thing, and that joy can last for a lifetime. For more information about things to consider before giving a puppy as a present, check out this article on Pet360.com. And for some ideas on some really great gifts for pet parents, take a look at my Jingle Belle’s Best holiday gift list for pet parents! Happy holidays everyone!