Do Not Gift Someone a Pet
I will be the first to admit that the puppy in the picture above has a level of cuteness that seems almost criminal. Nothing has the right to be so cute: It is compact, looks practically like a baby bear, and I absolutely want to bury my face in that coat, which seems to be made of clouds and love. He even looks like he could use a little cheering, and, oh, how I want to do the cheering! If you would give me this puppy, I would scream with joy. But next week I would be pretty mad at you. Because it's hardly ever a good idea to give someone else a pet.
You are gifting responsibility
This year I...tried. We could all use a new bright spot, a new furry friend to call ours. But with great cuteness comes great responsibility - especially with an animal that spends its first days peeing all over the floor or scratching the sofa or eating all your child's LEGO mini food. Even animals that are in a tank or cage need care. They need to eat. They deserve to live in a clean environment. They need a certain amount of consistent attention. Always wanting and actually caring for a rabbit is not the same.
Even if you are a member of the same household - you give the animal to your partner and are willing to take the main part of the care of the new family pet - the responsibility will never be 100 percent yours. One day the pandemic will end and you will be back at the office or out of town on business. Either you get sick or you're busy, and your partner will have to take his gift with him to pee in a blizzard. By then, that cute puppy will be a full dog, and your partner will curse you under their breath.
And then there's the financial responsibility. Even if you have a reason to know or believe that someone has the financial means to care for an animal, it doesn't mean that he wants to spend his money on caring for an animal. My dog's dental bills alone are breathtaking. I wasn't fully prepared for that and fortunately I can afford to take care of his teeth - but that was a responsibility I gave to myself and I can't blame anyone else.
It's a bad idea, even if you know they want one
Maybe they've been talking about wanting a bearded dragon for years. As long as you know them, even! You're absolutely sure they want one, maybe they've even said they're going to get one, and you want to be the one who really wants it to happen. Don't do it. You may be missing critical information-specific factors that you can't take into account.
First of all, it makes sense that if they really wanted one, could afford to take care of it, and had the time and energy to own it, they probably would have pulled the trigger already. If they didn't, it could have been because of space concerns, a need for more thorough research, a concern about how their children would handle it, or simply a current inability to take care of One More Thing.
Plus, I would like to pick my own cat. I love cats. I've always wanted an orange cat, especially one detail I'm not sure my own husband can tell you about, because it's just not something that comes up so often. Someone would want that "this dog is meant to be my dog" moment in the animal shelter. These bonds, they should not be forced!
Do not gift an animal to your children
I've been thinking about this topic because my 10-year-old child really wants a fish. I have already said that we have a dog, and I am not really interested in caring for anything else. I thought the desire for a fish would eventually wear off, but little guy still has his heart set on the test. So, we thought we might get him one for Christmas, and I went to the Offspring Facebook group for advice on the set-up. I got a lot of recommendations for tanks and stoves and types of fish. And I got a thoughtful remark suggesting that we let him be part of the process instead.
It made me think that, yes, waking up with a fish on Christmas morning would be pretty cool (although it's logistically more complicated the more I think about it), but part of the excitement of getting a pet is figuring it out. I'm sure he'd like every Betta I've picked out for him, but it's also nice to know he's going to get him, and to pick out accessories for the bowl. So, he will get a bowl for Christmas (please don't tell him) and the promise of a fish, and then he will be part of the rest.
The only exception
I do see an exception to this rule: if the receiver of the animal has explicitly told you that they want this one specific animal (not just a kitten, but also this kitten) to be gifted, and they are of an age or maturity to take on any responsibility that that specific animal would entail - or that you are willing to help. Then, by all means, put that puppy under the tree and enjoy the pleasure he gets from it.
Was this article helpful?37 Posted by: 👨 Mildred M. Hoyle