Bring a New Dog Home for the Holidays

In the Dog House with Jill Showalter

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Jill Showalter

Dogs make great Christmas gifts. There, I said it. You've probably read a bunch of stuff that says otherwise but really, name a better gift than a face-licking, tail-wagging mini-hurricane of fur that won't ever let you down? You can't, can you? I understand some of the reasons certain groups warn against buying pets for Christmas but you're a responsible adult, right? You can handle it.

I've grown up with dogs my entire life. I've raised them and fostered them. I left a successful career to follow my passion and work with dogs. They are present in all aspects of my life and their unconditional love has given my family years of happiness. But you can't just get a dog on a whim. It takes planning. Think about the effort you put into buying a house. You look at the neighborhood, the commute to work, the families on your block, the schools in the area, the parks nearby and more. Dogs deserve the same considerations.

Above everything else, you really need to understand that owning a dog comes with a ton of responsibilities. This isn't a wind-up toy we're talking about here. It's a living, breathing bundle of energy, wonder, fear, curiosity, mischief and joy. And guess what? You're going to be the one responsible for that amazing animal, so be ready. All the "I-promise" conversations in the world with your children outlining who will do what once the new dog arrives go out the window after a few weeks. You'll be responsible for the feedings, the walks, the clean-up and more. But it's not an impossible role. In fact, you'll find that it's an incredibly gratifying use of your time.


Although we'll cover the following topics and more in much greater detail in the future, here are a few things to consider before getting a new dog:


The dog's role: Why do you want a dog? Are you looking for companionship or protection? Do you want an exercise partner? Maybe you're looking for someone to provide a little after-work comfort after a long day at the office. If you can identify the reasons you want a dog, you can start considering the type of dogs that suit those needs.

The dog's surroundings: Will your dog be in an apartment or house? Are there rooms that are off-limits? Do you have family members or pets who may not be too enthusiastic about a new housemate? Do you have a yard where he or she can roam or will you need to take the dog for frequent walks to help him burn some energy? You don't need to over-analyze every detail but you should a good understanding of the benefits and limits of your new dog's home.

The dog's care: Find a good, local vet, a recommended groomer and a safe boarding facility. All can be key to a happy, healthy dog. Talk to your dog-owning friends, read online reviews and visit vets, groomers and dog daycare locations ahead of time to get a feel for their approach. You also may want to research local dog walkers, yard clean-up services, local dog parks and any other site or service that can enhance your dog's life and simplify yours.


The right dog will enrich your life every day. It will become a member of the family, a loved one that will outlast the latest tech trends and must-have handhelds. If you're going to buy or adopt a dog this holiday season, do your homework. Put in the time now to make sure you're making the right decision and you'll enjoy the warm-and-furry feelings that only a dog can bring for years to come.


Jill Showalter owns Yuppie Puppy and Doggie Day Play in Oak Park. She has personally tended to more than 10,000 dogs since 2007 and has shared stories and advice with numerous dog owners.

Reader Comments

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 1:37 PM

Gary Sullivan, the point I was trying to make is not just to bring home a puppy for Christmas. I have met and spoke on several occasions with the two largest shelters high profile people in Chicago, and also Oak Park's shelter and it is not advisable. As nice as it is to have a little puppy running around during the holiday's, it eventually becomes a responsibility because they become family members and need to be treated with care and love.

Gary Sullivan  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 12:09 PM

Jill's "sponsored" commentary was quite informative especially for those who are not experienced in this matter. I don't consider it an ad for either Yuppie or Doggie Day. She speaks from experience as a foster and dog owner. Beautiful facilities, great staff and everyone there loves their customers- dogs and those who the dogs allow to pay for the services provided.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 3rd, 2017 12:10 PM

Tom MacMillan, you are correct. The story is an ad so Jill needed to fill in some story that relates to her business. It takes a lot of decisions before bringing home a pet who is going to become a member of the family

Tom MacMillan from OP  

Posted: December 3rd, 2017 11:37 AM

I love my dog. We adopted him. You can get any breed and type of dog that way. The problem is that too many people get a dog the wrong way, as a gift or they haven't thought it through then they get tired of it and want to get rid of the poor thing. Or they don't think about the landlord's rules on pets or their husband's fur allergy. We adopted amazing dachshunds. Just google the breed you want and the word adoption and it is amazing what is available. Save someone else's unwanted gift.

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