Hobo’s tips for gifting pets

A few weeks ago, Hobo the Wonder Dog and I were visiting a veterinarian office when a beautiful golden retriever ran up behind us with a bit of clatter. Before I knew it—as quick as a blink the dog weaved between my legs as he flew like a flash to deliver a lick from the bottom of my chin to the top of my head. Who was this pup so lively and quick so eager to lick? Rover was his name with a twinkle in his eye — a spring in his step as he ran about — a wag in his tail and jolly in his step this pup disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.

You see Rover’s story is one of a gift wrapped puppy whose newness soon faded. For not long-ago Rover was crated—except to tinkle. The wag of his tail was not for joy but for begging for attention. Even though the givers gift was well intended, Rover soon lamented the joy that had ended. The story of Rover the gift wrapped puppy has a happy ending, but not before much regret. This is why Santa Claus never gives pets as gifts.

So, what about a pet as the perfect gift — of course, there are exceptions to the rule: never give pets to impress. Pets (unless pet rocks) have feelings and are high maintenance, come with a lifetime commitment of feedings and veterinary visits. A pet as a gift should be weighed heavily; not only the willingness of the receiver, but their ability to provide a life for the animal. If you must give a pet as a gift — then follow Hobo’s tips for gifting success.

· Never surprise someone with a pet as a gift. Be honest and frank in conversation with the receiver of a gifted pet. The receiver should be ready and willing to accept the commitment of time, money, and resources needed to care for an animal.

· Soul search—making sure you are giving the pet for the receiver and not yourself. When only a gifted pet will do, allow the recipient to pick the pet that’s right for them. Dogs and cats have a knack for picking you rather than you picking them.

· When gifting a pet to a child, make sure everyone is equally committed and excited about such a gift.

Giving a book related to caring for the animal to be gifted builds excitement and anticipation of the gift in a realistic way. Children do not always make the best pet parents; be prepared to support them and care for the animal if they falter on their commitment.

Shelters are full of broken dreams and unfulfilled promises — gifts of forgotten celebrations. Rover the gift-wrapped pup was fortunate to find a loving home in time for the holidays. Rover’s quick lick and impromptu visit caused Hobo to text photographs of him to his friends. As luck would have it — within a few minutes Rover had found a home. This story ends happily ever after—but so many others not so much.

Please support your local shelter or rescue by making a donation or volunteer your time. Sharing photographs of animals in a shelter on social media pages might make a huge difference in someone you know. Holidays spent with a dog or cat you love is rewarding for all. Consider your heart and the difference a rescue animal could make in your life this holiday season — it might be you who are rescued and blessed in the magic of the season.

Life is better with a dog — woolf!

Due to the importance of this topic this column is being repeated. Hobo the Wonder Dog, Your guide to travel, health and fun. Please follow Hobo on Facebook at Hobo the Wonder Dog or contact us at: howard@howardsbaker.com.