How To Choose A Puppy For Your Family
Would you consider giving your child a puppy?
Your little one and the puppy can grow together as best friends. There will be nobody as devoted, willing, understanding, loving and ever attentive in your child's life as their puppy.
Puppies are always ready to lend an ear to a bad luck story, always champing at the collar for a run around the block, always happy to share stale sandwich crusts, always daring to sneak under the bed covers on a cold night, always willing to take the blame for "eaten" homework, always prepared to do whatever it takes just to be at your child's side and to be their best ever friend.
The First Responsibility Of Puppy Ownership
Giving your new puppy a name is the very first pleasure of owning a pet and definitely the easiest part. It is so much fun and will get the whole family thinking, debating and laughing from the moment the puppy enters your thoughts.
We are thinking of adding a puppy to our one dog family (well, my husband doesn't yet know), but we (daughter and I) already have a shortlist of names for any breed, any colour, either gender, any estimated time of arrival (husband permitting). We've had a great time reaching this point, and it is the first expression of love for any new puppy.
The second thing you will need to do, when you have decided upon your puppy's name, is buy a good quality collar that will grow with your puppy. Personalise the collar with their name and contact telephone number so they will always be close to home. Add puppy's address too, if you can.
When Is The Best Time To Give Your Child A Puppy?
One of the trickiest aspects of giving your child a puppy is the timing - the timing of the estimated longevity of the puppy in parallel with the estimated time that your child will live under your roof.
The main reason to aim for perfect timing is to avoid any great sadness during your child's life - puppies grow into dogs, which grow into old dogs, which eventually move on to higher ground than your backyard. Dogs do become a part of the family and an enormous part of your child's life - losing a dog can be a traumatic emotional experience, and of course none of us can escape grief, but we can try to avoid it as best as possible for our children. Another goal should be to aim for perfect timing in your own life - if you plan to downsize from the sprawling family mansion to a two bedroom inner-city apartment when your child graduates from high school and moves afar to college, then you may not want to be doing high density living with an active canine in tow.
It is needless to say that you also need to avoid any great sadness during your puppy's life. Too many once-loved pets sadly become easily disposable items for reasons of change in the circumstances of families.
How Long Will Your Puppy Be Around? How Old Do They Get?
Puppies grow so quickly. They grow before your eyes, into bigger dogs, and eventually (hopefully) into mature dogs. All going well, they should be an integral member of your family for a long time.
To assist in the calculations of matching your child's and puppy's lives to grow and love together, you need to be aware that a Labrador is estimated to live between 10 and 12 years; a Border Collie is estimated to live between 10 and 17 years; a Poodle is estimated to live between 12 and 15 years; and an Australian Cattle Dog is estimated to live between 13 and 15 years.
The mathematical picture quickly becomes clear, whatever breed of dog you choose, and it needs to be taken into consideration at the time that you introduce your child to their very best friend.
How Do You Choose The Right Puppy For Your Family?
There are so many factors to consider when buying a puppy that will happily grow through the ages and stages with your family - grooming, exercise, dietary requirements, barking and behavioural tendencies, personality traits, intelligence levels, stimulus requirements, genetic disease possibilities, veterinary costs, kennel costs, available time from family members, family allergies. This list is from just a very quick brain storm, so be assured that there will still be other factors to consider.
Border Collies, for example, are friendly and highly intelligent dogs, often referred to as the most intelligent dog of all. They are active dogs who need to be exercised regularly, challenged frequently and included as a member of the family.
Border Collie character traits therefore make them a great role model for your child!
The attachment between your child and their puppy will be automatic, and will hopefully develop and highlight the best qualities in both. They will grow and mature together, learning the importance of caring and responsibility from each other. They will enjoy a healthy physical lifestyle together and benefit from the enjoyment of intellectual stimulus.
Above all else, they will become best friends. Adults tend to look upon a child's life as carefree and easy, and in most cases, it is. There are always little bumps in even the happiest child's life though - moments where they need an unconditional, non-judgemental loving friend and sometimes only a loyal dog can measure up to this lofty emotional need.
Choosing A Puppy To Match Your Family
The Border Collie puppy is adorable - looking at the cherubic bundle of black and white fluff makes it seemingly impossible that your child or family would ever fall out of love with it. But, the Border Collie breed has a high dumpage rate! All dog breeds have a higher dumpage rate than they should, and indeed, all pets have a higher dumpage rate than they should!
What goes wrong with the love affair with puppies and pets?
We fall in love with the bundle of fluff and cuteness, and become blinded to look clearly beyond the initial infatuation.
As parents and adults, you must assess the complete circumstances of your child's life and your whole family life before giving them a Christmas puppy. Research of dog breeds and how they would match your lifestyle is the first necessary step in preparation for a family addition. Some breeds of dog have a longevity of up to 20 years - unfortunately, we rarely have our children living with us for as long as that, so it is imperative that the responsibility of caring for any animal be fully considered before tying a red ribbon around its neck and presenting it at Christmas.
Research! Research! Research! Look at everything from longevity to activity levels, exercise requirements, eating habits, grooming requirements, temperament, barking habits, full grown size, full grown appearance, possible congenital disorders, social habits with both humans and other dogs, compatibility with your lifestyle, your own budget - if all potential dog owners considered every possible factor of pet ownership, the high rates of pet neglect and desertion would be dramatically reduced.
If you are confident that you and your child can make the lifelong commitment to a pet, then there will be no more valuable, special, beautiful and loving enrichment to your lives.
The Joys And Surprises Of Owning A Puppy
I have had puppies, who have grown into dogs, all my life. Although neither my parents nor I remember the name of my first dog, I do remember him from before I was two years old. Every one after that was more memorable, some for the wrong reasons, and some others because they were just the world's very special creatures.
Cleo was my special childhood dog. She came to our family as a Labrador / Australian Cattle Dog mix at the age of six weeks, when I was eight years old. She had the Cattle Dog body, a deep honey Labrador coat, and the personality mixture of both breeds. We lived in a moderate climate where dogs didn't need to live inside, but she was my constant companion from the moment I was outdoors, and that was most of the time when I wasn't at school. I was horse mad, and Cleo would trail me on horseback for hours and miles on end, day in and day out, heading home only for evening meals, sleep and breakfast, before trekking out again. She was loving, loyal and gentle, but had the Cattle Dog instinct and protectiveness to bite if she ever believed that any of her pack (us) were threatened. I was 19 and living away at university, but was at home when she died, and even though I didn't know she was old and sick enough to die that weekend, I sensed enough to spend her last hours by her side. She was one of the world's very special creatures and decades later, her memory can bring tears to my eyes in a flash.
There has since been Champass, Tenner, Alex, Molly, Henry, Rascal, Anzac and Sheila. Sheila is still with us, and as much as I have loved all of them, Molly, Rascal and Anzac are enjoying the top-ranked hall of fame with Cleo.
Sheila is an Australian Cattle Dog who came in to our lives as a six week old puppy in 2003. She was an early and surprise Christmas gift for our five year old daughter. Sheila was adorable, perfect to look at, spongy and squirmy to hold, full of beans and high pitched squeaks, and completely deaf! She was in our home for a week, with questionable (well frankly, extremely delayed) response behaviours, before a vet visit confirmed she had been born deaf. I had only ever heard of one other deaf dog, who belonged to friends of ours, and I was familiar with the many changes they had made to nurture their somewhat disadvantaged furry friend.
Thankfully, Sheila is still with us, has taken greater liberties to enter every part of our emotional space and living space each year, and her deafness does not even occur to us, unless we consciously think about it, or now write about it. She arrived with a surprise, but also with masses of joy, and whilst I cannot bear to think about it, she will one day be Queen of the World's Very Special Creatures Hall of Fame.
What Your Puppy Will Need
The list of quirky, fun, but unnecessary puppy items is endless. The list of essentials is somewhat shorter.
- Collar with identification
- Walking Lead
- Food bowl
- Water bowl
Would You Give A Puppy To Your Child?
© 2009 AJ