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A gal on another forum wrote this timely article several years ago.

Christmas Maltese?

By Carina J. Rock

Do you remember that first scene from the classic movie Lady and the Tramp? It is Christmas morning and Jim Dear has one special package to surprise his Darling with. She thinks she is about to unwrap a beautiful hat trimmed with ribbons. Instead she finds a little puppy. It all works out beautifully (except when the baby arrives and the aunt sends Lady off to the pound). All too often Christmas puppies don’t end up as lucky as Lady. Often the busiest month at the pound is January. This is because the pound for many people is the canine version of the retail “returns and exchange” counter.

The adorable image of a puppy trimmed in bows seems very much a part of our traditional Christmas. The holiday season is supposed to be a time to come together and share with our loved ones. A family pet should be part of the Christmas experience. However, there are a number of reasons why a pet should not be another gift under the tree.

Even as a child, I felt sorry for Lady. I could not help but think of how this poor little puppy was stuck waiting alone inside a box to be unwrapped. A dog is not an object or a fun toy. They are living creatures. They are a member of the family. Few people would consider wrapping up a child in a box and sticking them under the tree. If you have a dog in your life, he or she should be there to find her own stocking hanging on the mantel or his own packages under the tree, not being one of them.

Imagine how frightened a little puppy or a rescue dog would be when they come to a new home. No matter what day they arrive, they are often anxious and in need of lots of attention and reassurance. Now imagine how frenzied and hectic the typical Christmas holidays are. Families are busy. Often too busy to spend all the necessary time focused on a new family member. Adjusting to a new home takes time. There are new rules to learn, perhaps some potty habits to acquire. Patience is required on the part of every family member. If you want your new pet to settle in comfortably, then they should come home when you have the most time to devote to this adjustment period.

Parents often say they want to teach their children to be responsible by getting them a pet to care for. First of all, if a child is not yet responsible, they should not be caring for a needy little creature. Second, consider how children treat their Christmas toys. Consider how rarely those toys get any attention once the holiday spirit fades. Teaching children about responsible pet ownership means that parents ought to model that behavior by demonstrating the depth of the commitment that is necessary to an animal.

Caring for an animal requires a solid commitment. Caring for an animal requires that every member of the family be actively involved. This involvement begins at the very start of the process. Getting a pet for someone as a surprise does not allow him or her a choice in making that commitment. Responsible breeders or rescue groups will want to interview everyone who will be part of the adoptive family. Therefore acquiring a pet as a surprise should be impossible.

I will be waking up on Christmas morning with my Maltese dogs. I will watch them romp around in bows and search boxes for their favorite bones. If you have a fantasy about sharing your holidays and your life with a Maltese, then do consider adopting one, but please remember they are for life, not just for Christmas.
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