Not Just for Xmas

Dec 10, 2007

As a volunteer instructor at a local dog club, I’m often asked for advice on choosing a dog. A common misconception among prospective dog owners is that the main concern is matching a dog to your living area.

Old Harry - Not Just for Xmas

People who live in flats tell me they’re contemplating a small dog. These dogs tend to be highly energetic and yappy. Not a good combination for flat dwellers and their neighbours.

Others with big backyards will say they’re thinking of a larger dog. Left alone in the backyard, these dogs soon demonstrate how destructive a bored dog can be.

It’s lifestyle, not living area that should determine whether you buy a dog. Regardless of size, dogs need a lot of attention. In addition to regular exercise, play and training, dogs need a commitment that borders on monotony, but is vitally important for ensuring a settled, stress-free dog.

People seem to forget that dogs live a long time. Playful puppies grow into wilful two-year-olds, mature around five-years-old and then slowly slide from middle-aged eight-year-olds into elderly dogs of twelve to fourteen years or more. Dogs are long-term investments.

As with any investment, prospective dog owners should research their options beforehand. Visit a local dog club, watch how different dogs behave, listen to them and talk to their owners.

Above all, people should not buy a cute puppy or adopt a rescue dog unless they are fully prepared for the ongoing responsibility (and cost) of being a dog owner.

Because as my Harry who turns ten on Xmas Eve reminds us, a dog is not just for Xmas. As responsible dog owners, please pass on this message to any family or friends considering buying a dog this Xmas.

© 2008 Robert Fairhead 

This piece appeared in the Village Voice newspaper December 2007 and is also published on I was fortunate to have three more Xmases with my dear old, Harry. 

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