A puppy is a sweet, loving bundle of fur, but there are a number of things a puppy is not.

With the gift-giving season upon us, I want to discuss a few of those “nots,” because the SPCA has an after-holiday return rate of about 30 percent – and that’s definitely a not.

  • A puppy is not a toy. When the novelty wears off, a puppy just can’t be tossed aside. It is a living creature with physical needs that must be met.
  • A puppy is not a teaching aid to instill responsibility in children. These lessons should come from household chores. The essentials of feeding, housebreaking and training should fall to the adult. Children can help with grooming, walking and playtime. Dogs and children do develop special bonds of friendship and love that make their relationships special.
  • A puppy is not cheap. Whether you adopt form the SPCA, answer an ad for a purebred or a puppy follows you home, the money you pay initially will be a drop in the bucket. A puppy requires shots, a medical exam, City and county licenses, food and grooming – not to mention replacement of chewed items or stain removal on rugs.
  • A puppy is not a spur-of-the-moment idea. It is easier to obtain a puppy than it is to get rid of an adult, grown dog that didn’t work out. Do your homework, especially if you are interested in a certain breed. We have a free library at the SPCA with books concerning different breeds and the phone numbers of breed clubs. Puppies brought home as “impulse items” fill our shelter because not enough time was spent in reviewing this commitment.
  • Puppies are not gifts. In fact, that is our policy at the SPCA. A puppy that appeals to one person may not appeal to another. We have gift certificates available if you want to give a puppy as a present.
  • A puppy is not self-cleaning. Housebreaking is not inbred. Carpets, furniture and shoes all are fair game to a puppy. Puppies also don’t have the ability to brush their hair, de-flea themselves or give themselves baths.
  • A puppy is not an adult dog. They don’t have the mental or physical ability to perform as adults. Puppies require patience – they may cry at night, they can’t differentiate between what’s chewable and what’s not, and they have tiny bladders.

If you’ve faced all the negative aspects of owning a puppy and are ready to take on the responsibility, then you are in for a lifetime of unconditional love, companionship and all the rewards that overshadow any drawbacks.

To get you in the holiday spirit, visit our adoption center at NorthPark Mall, between Neiman’s and Lord & Taylor. The adoption center is open through Dec. 24.

On behalf of the homeless animals, may you have a “pawsitively” wonderful holiday season!