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Holidays Often Hectic : Christmas Pet May Present Problems

December 19, 1985|From Associated Press

Christmas may not be the best time to give youngsters a puppy as a gift, according to an award-winning author of eight books on pets.

"A new dog is not a video game with fur, or a toy to be discarded after the fun and games are over," said Mordecai Siegal, a pet authority who believes that "unplanned dog ownership often leads to disaster for pet and pet owner."

Careful thought and planning should go into the giving of an animal to a child, Siegal said, noting that more puppies are given as last-minute Christmas gifts than at any other time of the year.

But according to Siegal, many households are too hectic during the holiday, and a dog usually won't get the care and attention needed. He suggests that one way to cope with the holiday excitement is to present the gift in the form of a stuffed toy dog, giving the youngster a real puppy after the holiday.

A stuffed dog can serve as a good lead-in for real dog ownership, adds Siegal, a consultant to Tonka Toys for Pound Puppies, soft-sculptured stuffed dogs.

The Pets Are Wonderful Council, a national, not-for-profit public service organization, suggests giving a gift certificate for a puppy or kitten, to be redeemed after the hectic holidays.

"It's important that family members have time to spend with a pet and properly introduce it to its new environment," the council advises. (Send a business-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope to Holiday Pets, Pets Are Wonderful Council, 500 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611 for a free gift card.)

Siegal also advises that parents should not necessarily get a dog when the child wants one, but rather when the child is best able to take on the responsibility.

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