Thinking about Getting a Dog for Christmas? 10 Things You Should Consider

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As a kid, I was captivated by the movie Annie. My friends and I knew each song by heart and at any moment would start singing “Tomorrow” or “It’s The Hard-Knock Life” at the top of our lungs. At theatre camp we all wanted to play Annie. I drew freckles on my face with a red marker.

Annie tells the rags to riches story of a sweet, funny, and compassionate girl who lives in an orphanage but dreams of having a family of her own. Her wishes come true when she wins over Daddy Warbucks with her charm and zest for life and he officially adopts her and Sandy (the dog she rescued).

After my son watched the original Annie movie on DVD, he asked, “Can we adopt a dog named Sandy, pleeeeeeeease?” I’ve held him off so far — we have already rescued two cats, a guinea pig, and two hamsters – but the question is sure to come up again when we see the new movie version of Annie, which hits theatres this month.

The film stars Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie. It’s been called the movie event of the holiday season — and with the holidays come presents. There is a very strong possibility your child will beg for a “Sandy” after watching Annie. But, before you get a dog, consider these things:

1. Adoption is best. In Toronto (my hometown) a bylaw went into effect in 2011 making it illegal to sell or purchase a dog from a pet store unless it’s from a shelter, rescue group, or humane society. So if you are ready to adopt a special “Sandy” be sure to check out a local shelter in your area. And hey, think of the important lessons you can teach your children about animal rescue!

2. Owning a dog is a huge commitment. Are you and your kids ready to make a 10 to 15 year promise to your new furry friend? The holiday season will come and go, but your dog will be there to stay.

3. Some children are allergic to longhaired dogs but fine with shorthaired dogs. It’s important to know whether your child has allergies in advance. Visit friends or family with various dog breeds and get in some furry cuddles and walks. Or become a foster family for a dog in transition. Maybe you’ll end up adopting your foster dog!

4. Dogs aren’t cheap. The initial adoption fee will cover many things. But keep in mind that dogs sometimes get sick and need to visit the vet, and you’ll also need to cover the cost of food, toys, comfy bed, and vaccinations.

5. A test run is a great way to see if a dog will fit your lifestyle. There’s nothing like a weekend sleepover with a friend’s dog to get a better understanding of what you are about to take on. Or perhaps your neighbour has a dog you can ‘borrow’ for a few hours. Alternatively, your local animal shelter may allow you and your child to take a dog for a walk.

6. You’ll have to go on late night walks, even in snow and ice. And yes, you’ll have to scoop poop during those walks too.

7. You’ll need to make arrangements for your new dog when you go on vacation. Dogs can’t stay home alone. Many families bring their dogs on road trips or other vacations. Some hotels, like The Fairmont, allow doggie guests! But if you are taking a vacation overseas or flying it’s a good idea to secure someone you trust to take care of your dog when you are away, or arrange dog-boarding services.

8. Choose a dog that fits your space. While it’s possible for big dogs to live in small spaces, it’s not always ideal. If you live in a small apartment maybe a small dog is best. If you have a large house with a sprawling backyard, then hey, consider adopting two dogs and double your fun!

9. If you rent a place, make sure you can have a dog there. Despite it being your right to adopt a pet to live in your rental unit, many buildings still have a no pet policy. To avoid a fight later on or even legal action, it’s best to check with your building manager or landlord before you bring a new dog home.

10. Get to know a bit about the potential dog you are adopting. While it’s impossible to fully know your dog’s personality beforehand, there is basic information you can find out. Is the dog good with children? Cats? If you have a new baby perhaps an older calmer dog is best. If you have an older child that is excited to take your dog on walks to the park, maybe a younger energetic dog will be the perfect match.
I look forward to the day when my son and I adopt our own “Sandy” — but until then best of luck with yours!

Photo: Courtesy of Sony

*This post is sponsored by Sony.