Gill has an older dog – Lucy Lou, who’s now fourteen years old and is beginning to slow down with age. Gill thought that a new young friend might give her renewed interest in life. Aging animals often seem to enjoy the challenge of young life in the same house, beginning to play again, and becoming more active. In early November, Gill set about finding the perfect puppy friend for Lucy Lou.

Gill found a Wire Haired Dachshund breeder on the internet  who had a litter of pups ready for their new homes. She owned just two bitches and one stud dog, which was just the set up that Gill had been hoping for. She was able to meet the mother and father of the pups: they were lovely, friendly dogs, with loads of personality. Puppies tend to take after their parents, so Gill knew from the start that Maggie was likely to grow up as a friendly, outgoing dog. She was also able to see the environment where the puppies had been reared, so she knew that they’d been well socialised, being brought up in a family environment, exposed to all the normal sights and sounds of a family home. Gill was aware of the risk of being duped into buying a puppy from a puppy farm, and it was very clear that Maggie’s background was genuine and ideal.

At first, Lucy Lou was curious about the quiet new puppy, and it seemed as if they might become good friends. But in the past month, Maggie has grown in confidence and energy, bouncing around the home, pestering Lucy Lou to play with her all the time. The older dog is being plagued by Maggie’s enthusiasm, and Gill is feeling sorry for her. She’s decided that a youthful friend is what Maggie needs, so that the two young animals can play with each other, and Lucy Lou can enjoy watching.

When Gill looked into buying another pup, she discovered that December is the worst time in the year to get one. The run up to the festive season is the busiest time for rogue breeders advertising puppies for sale, with a peak demand from people wanting to buy puppies for Christmas. The problem is that many people don’t understand where many of these puppies come  from. They are often bred in appalling conditions, poorly socialised, they are not vaccinated or microchipped and they may be in need of veterinary care. People think they’re getting an ideal puppy like Maggie, whereas in fact, they are often buying an animal that’s destined to have problems.

The truth is that pets never make good Christmas gifts and should never be bought on a whim or given as a surprise. As the old Dogs Trust saying goes, “A Dog is For Life, Not Just for Christmas”. Despite this truth, many people still buy puppies for Christmas, which means that other people, like Gill, who genuinely want a carefully planned puppy, get caught up in this seasonally distorted market.

Animal charities – like the ISPCA – recommend waiting until after the festive season before introducing a new pet in the home.  And rather than buying a pup from a breeder, they suggest adopting a dog from an animal rescue group, such as the ISPCA, DSPCA, Dogs Trust, or even your local dog pound. Pets from these sources will be health-checked, vaccinated, neutered/spayed, parasite treated and also microchipped, so they also offer far better value than buying one privately..

Gill still wants to get a friend for Maggie, but she’s decided to wait until after Christmas. And this time, she’s getting a rescued dog: there are so many needing homes.