The dog days of Christmas past

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 30, 2022

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Every time I see a social media post about someone getting a new puppy for Christmas, I feel sorry for the mutt.


Hands down, the worst gift a parent can give a child is a puppy.

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Rarely is a 10-year-old capable of understanding what having a puppy in the house means, and when the parent has no idea either, you have the perfect storm for puppy failure. Someone is going to get “rehomed,” and it won’t be the adults, although sometimes that might not be such a bad outcome.


The loser in this meant-to-be-sweet moment is almost always the dog because people don’t take time to learn what’s involved, what the risks are and how time-consuming it almost always is, especially if done properly.


Petting, rubbing, snuggling and feeding are the nectar of new-dogginess, but there is no sweetness in taking care of the BPP–barf, poop and puddles, of which there will be many.


Most everyone can imagine the fun part of having a new dog, Few understand that far more important than everything else is training. Not dog training. Human training.


Here are a few steps would-be new dog owners can take to receive the training they need:


  • Volunteer to help at an animal shelter. All of the shelters in our area are now full. There, you can see firsthand where many good dogs wind up. You can see the longing in their eyes, hear the pain of loneliness in their whine, see the fear of the unknown on their faces. It is not for the faint of heart.
  • Read the online posts of people getting rid of their puppy or adult dog. If you read enough of them you will learn the simple truth: dogs are good, people are bad.
  • Talk to your animal control officer who can tell you stories about the many people who get dogs without ever giving a thought to the responsibilities that entail, and how it often results in neglect and abuse. The number of stray, dropped or abandoned dogs in our region is simply off the charts. It’s an indictment of human behavior.
  • Talk to a professional dog trainer or simply audit an obedience class. Not much happiness is going to occur later unless the dog learns basic obedience early. The earlier, the better. Without good training, the dog cannot be controlled. Boundaries must be established or bad things follow.


And remember: there is no such thing as a nuisance dog, only nuisance owners.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at