I am never sure what pieces of my personal history have been divulged here before and fear getting repetitive. That said: do we all know that I worked in a pet store for 7 years? It was (is) a great mom and pop place, specializing in fish and small animals. I was hired on personal recognizance (I practically grew up within the stores walls, they’ve been in business as long as we’ve been alive and weekend trips to the store with my dad were so frequent its not even a special memory, just a routine blip in my childhood). I show up to visit the mostly unchanging staff from time to time and am usually put to work helping customers, working the register and catching fish, all to the bewilderment of the customers. My very first guinea pig came from this store, and most of my treasured fish did as well.
And I know we’ve established that I have a bizarre co-dependent relationship with my cat.
I know animals. I love animals. I am a pain in the ass to go to pet stores with because I actually give people advice, recommend products, and try to use my charm on the salespeople who never let me catch fish because “company policy” and “liability” and hey I’ve never actually been banned from a pet store which is pretty impressive.
I’ve also been That Kid, asking incessantly for puppies, kittens, and ponies to appear with big bow collars, frolicking underneath the Christmas tree.
I get it, pets are such special things and parents usually (and wisely) do not give in the second a kid expresses interest in an animal. I think a lot more people would have tarantulas if that were the case (those fuckers are IMPOSSIBLE to box up, btdubs).
My bottom line here is that I do not discourage gifting pets at the holidays (and birthdays). I am 100% against the gifting of live animals at the holidays (and birthdays).
Well how does that work?
So here’s the thing, once your responsible adult ass has decided that your family is ready for a critter, done their research, and decided to take on responsibility if their child proves incompetent (as, honestly, most children are through no fault of their own) or looses interest.
If you’re one of those people who thinks letting an animal starve together to teach your kid a lesson is an ok thing to do, get the fuck of my blog and never come back, because you are a useless piece of shit and I don’t want to count you in my readership.
Holidays are stressful for people. The hustle, bustle, flurry, and often times transport of an animal who is just meeting you for the first time is also stressful and can have serious consequences for their health. Nevermind if you have to hide the animal somewhere like say, a basement (as a woman at petsmart with me the other night was contemplating).
What you can (should) do is gift your kids the stuff: a book if it’s animal they’ve shown interest in but don’t know much about, the appropriate necessities to care for the animals, get the whole fancy set-up and no animal. Leave a note: from Santa, from Jesus, from your plush little Gestapo, from yourself- whoever it is doing the gifting in your household. Explain that you’ve got the stuff, and you can go together to pick out a new friend to use that stuff with. Pick a responsible time to go, like after the holidays if you’re traveling a lot, or when the weather warms up if you’re too poor to pay for heat cuz your electrict company is morally bankrupt. Maybe, as the lady wanting to stash a pair of guinea pigs in her in-laws basement, you want the “presentation” of some live and confused animals under the tree Christmas morning. It’s not worth making the animal sick (an upper respiratory infection is a big deal in a small animal!) and kids love getting to actually pick out there own pet so I doubt they’ll be too upset if that cage is empty as long as the promise is fulfilled.
Even “decorative” living things can require a lot of care (hellllo plants!), and animals can feel a lot of different emotions, emotions that can affect their health and ability to bond with your family. Err on the side of kindness, and make good choices if you decide to gift a pet!