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Puppies are for life, not for Christmas

Wednesday 16 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Pet Talk

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Puppies are for life, not for Christmas
The CISPCA has a number of cute and cuddly puppies for adoption. PHOTO: SIAN SOLOMON/21121425

If you don’t want the responsibility you shouldn’t get a puppy. Dogs are not TVs and throwing one away to get a new model is not okay, says Dr Michael Baer.

Luna was gorgeous. Small, soft, cuddly.  Only seven-weeks old.  She played constantly.  If she wasn’t asleep. Running, rolling, bouncing. She could be noisy; she had a high-pitched yap that cut through. But her inquisitive, energetic nature and desire for constant attention were endearing. She was a favourite with the whole family, and nothing would ever change that. No Christmas present had ever been more welcome.

Luna was in trouble again.  What had been allowed and endearing at Christmas, when she was small, was annoying and destructive in March.  Demanding attention, chewing shoes and clothes, and anything.  Her small fluffy body was gone.  She was gangly and awkward, not gorgeous anymore. She slept less and demanded more. She ate more. She barked more, loudly and often. Two of the family still spent time with her, patting her head when they walked in. They played with her for ten minutes before losing interest, long before Luna did. They fed her and gave her water. But she wasn’t the family favourite.

Luna continued to grow. Without training and discipline, her behaviour became worse. She chewed, she barked, she wandered the neighbourhood and roads. She had a minor accident with a car, and though her leg was injured and sore, the family didn’t notice. She was now like a piece of furniture, present but unnoticed. She hobbled around for a couple of months, then got slowly better, the broken bone in her foot had healed. In August she came into season.  The family noticed that other dogs were coming around to the house, they heard the fights – who didn’t – and decided the time had come to get Luna desexed.  Which was great.

She was quieter, for a day, after the surgery. She was still very active and, despite not getting much of it, she still constantly demanded attention from the family. She got food. She had a place to sleep, and she scratched. She scratched a lot; constantly covered in fleas. Luna’s hair fell out; or was scratched out. Or was chewed out. The fluffy, soft, golden coat she had as puppy was gone, replaced by bristles, bald spots, and scabs. Not Gorgeous.

In October the family had to move house, not far, but to a different village.  Several things did not make the journey to the new house.  Some things were discarded because the family could not take them. Some things, like the TV and Luna, were discarded because the family now had a new model.  The TV was a huge flat screen, like the old TV, but new and shiny.  The new puppy, Bobby, was gorgeous; small, soft, and cuddly, and only seven-weeks old, like Luna at Christmas.  He was a family favourite.  Until he too grew up.

Fortunately, Luna’s story is fiction. She does not exist. Unfortunately, Zac, Brownie, Rusty, Tilly, Kere, Buster and Sacha all do. And lots of others, whose owners love puppies but don’t want the reality of a dog for life.  Having a puppy is fantastic, but it makes you responsible for a dog for the rest of her life.  She will repay you with loyalty, attention, and companionship. She will protect you, and your house. But you will have to feed her, look after her health, treat her for fleas and worms, have her desexed, and care for her when she is sick or hurt. She needs attention and training. This work is required for ownership, and it can be expensive.