The Best Doggone Christmas Gift

Your kids want a puppy. You want to give them one for Christmas. What a great idea! But are the holidays a good time for puppy-giving?

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Presenting Your Pup

The holidays may not be the besttime to get to know a puppy.

Bringing joy to those we love is what the holidays are all about. If your child has been petitioning for a puppy, it's tempting to make that wish come true on Christmas morning (with some help from Santa!).

It's fun to imagine the brightly lit tree, the gaily wrapped gifts, and the adorable puppy, complete with merry red bow. But for a real puppy, that is a pretty scary scene -- too many people, too much noise and commotion, too many strange new things for a young dog to contend with.

Puppies need lots of soothing, affection, and supervision when they come to a new home. Amid the holiday hubbub, it's hard to offer the kind of quiet, nurturing environment a new pup requires.

The best time to introduce your Christmas gift to his or her new family is when the holidays are over and you are back to your usual routines. Without the distractions of relatives and holiday festivities, you and your puppy can take all the time you need to get acquainted.

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Surprise!

You can still enjoy surprising loved ones on Christmas morning by finding creative ways, like these, to let them know their puppy is coming.

  • In a big box filled with tissue paper, enclose a photo of the puppy (or any puppy, if you have not chosen your pet yet) with an explanatory note (writing a little poem would be lovely). Punch holes in the top of the box to pique their curiosity.
  • Younger children might appreciate a "letter" from the puppy, telling them how happy he or she will be to join the family (sign it with a mock paw print for an extra dose of cute).
  • Place a plush toy dog under the tree with an assortment of dog toys and accessories and a picture of the real puppy.
  • Fill a stocking with dog toys and treats, and put a photo of the puppy peeking out the top. For a giggle, wrap the doggie goodies in baby shower-themed paper.

Bringing a puppy home after the holidays requires some planning. First, you need to research which kind of dog is right for your family.

If you purchase a purebred pup, you can work with the breeder (many breeders feel they are most qualified to match puppies to people) and arrange to pick up your dog after the holidays.

You may want to involve your children in the selection of the puppy, particularly if you are adopting from a shelter. Some shelters require that the entire family be present when an animal is adopted.

Wherever your puppy comes from -- a kennel, a home, or a shelter -- choose a time to welcome your pup when you can devote the proper attention to your newest family member. Circle the date in red, so everyone can look forward to the big day.

Never surprise someone with a puppy. Owning a dog is a commitment to care for that animal for its lifetime; a puppy, unlike a sweater, should not be returned or exchanged.

With proper training and care, your Christmas puppy will provide unconditional love and companionship for many happy holidays to come.

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