Perhaps when your child climbed aboard Santa’s lap, the bearded bestower of holiday booty heard those three magical words: “I wanna dog.”
While visions of fluffy puppies danced in your little one’s head, you saw a future filled with pee pads and poop bags. That’s when you shot Santa the death stare, the one that said, “Grant that wish and your next few minutes won’t be so jolly, old elf.”
But before you pounce, think rationally.
Here are five excellent reasons to give your child (and yourself) a dog:
1. The ASPCA approves
For years the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals frowned upon surprising people with pets, since such gifts came with a lengthy commitment. In 2013, however, the ASPCA said its studies found people who received pets loved and cared for them as much as those who picked out their own. Gift away!
2. You don’t have to get a puppy, adopt an adult
It doesn’t have to be a tiny ball of fur requiring weeks of training as well as a large supply of rug cleaners and air fresheners. Consider an adult dog, one perhaps not as cute but just as endearing. Adults may already know the rules and if not, are quicker to learn. You’d choose an undamaged couch over relative adorability, right?
3. They’re always happy to see you
Various studies have linked dog ownership to improved health, from getting more exercise to feeling less stressed. Whatever. When you come home at the end of a terrible day greeted by the one thing always happy to see you no matter what, yeah, that’s good stuff.
4. It will teach your kids responsibility
At some point. Just be careful with threats your kids know are empty, like screaming, “If you don’t take care of Mimsy she’s going back up the chimney,” while Mimsy is curled in your lap.
5. It feels amazing to adopt what could’ve been a homeless dog
The sense of satisfaction that comes with providing a home to a formerly homeless dog is unmatched. Recently I took in Harrison, a beagle mix who’d been living in an alley for weeks (or months), surviving on scraps tossed by passers-by. Every day he lets me know how appreciative he is, becoming my shadow when I’m home. Or maybe it’s because I’m his only food source. Doesn’t matter. I enjoy his company.
You don’t even have to put pants on to look for the perfect pet. Visit Pet Harbor (petharbor.com), plug in your ZIP code and browse among dozens of shelters.