You may want to think twice before giving your friend or family a puppy over the holidays. While holiday cards are filled with images of irresistible puppies poking their heads out of stockings, the reality of introducing a puppy to your household over the holidays can be quite different.
A puppy is not a stuffed toy. It will not take kindly to being ignored once a newer, brighter toy is discovered. Puppies need attention, discipline and a lifetime of love and care. Overexcited children may scare a puppy or worse, neglect it - especially after it chews up their holiday toys or has an accident on the rug.
Cute puppies soon become full-sized dogs. An impulse gift over the holidays can last for 10 years or more. A dog needs training, food, shelter, medical care and exercise.
If you want to give someone a puppy, don't have it be a surprise. Consider a gift that will help someone choose the right dog for his or her lifestyle. The American Kennel Club publishes The Complete Dog Book and The Complete Dog Book for Kids. Both make great gifts (and are easier to wrap than a wiggly puppy).
You can also get detailed information and photos about different breeds of dogs by visiting the AKC web site at www.akc.org...
Finally, please keep in mind: A dog is for life - not just for Christmas.
Hank Dingfelder, Aiken, S.C.
(Editor's note: The writer is president of the Aiken Dog Training Club.)