The Twelve Days of Christmas… with a Puppy

should i buy a puppy for christmas, ask a vet, preparing for a puppy, how to pick a puppyGuestpost By: Jenny Stephens
North Penn Puppy Mill Watch

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a little puppy underneath the tree.

ask a vet, my puppy is vomiting, how to tell if my puppy is sickwhat should i feed my dog, ask a vetOn the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the cost of two cans of quality dog food a day or a $25.00 weekly food bill for the next 15 years.

ask a vet how to train a dog, dog walking problemsshould i take my dog to the vet, ask a vet online, sick dog symptomsOn the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three walks a day or an average of two hours out of every day for the next decade and a half.

how to tell if my dog is sick, ask a vet, talk to a vet On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four paws that need regular nail trims at $15 a pop for the next 15+ years.

my dog is vomiting, my dog has diarrhea, talk to a vetOn the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five piles of poop!

talk to a vet, my pet is sick, sick dog symptomsOn the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six chewed shoes, one broken ornament and a $100 fee just to walk into the 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic.

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my dog is scratching, dog skin problems, common dog skin diseasesOn the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a scavenger hunt that lasted 7 hours when someone accidentally let the door open and my puppy ran away… at night… when it was raining and 35 degrees.

how to help my sick puppy, how to tell if my puppy is sickOn the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, $800 to cover surgical spaying, annual heartworm medication, flea & tick prevention, 2 annual vet visits and just enough left to pay for gasoline to get me to and from the vet’s office.

ask a vet if my dog is sick, do i need to take my dog to the vetOn the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, $900 to install new carpet after housebreaking accidents

ruined the rug.

how to tell if your dog is sick, ask a vet if i should go to the vetOn the how to tell if i need to take my dog to the vet, common dog skin problems tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten days of pet sitting service (or $500) so I could go on vacation and know my puppy is safe.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 11 trips to the dog park so my fenceless dog could finally run free.

my dog ate a glass christmas ornament, my dog ate chocolate, my dog ate a grapeOn the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a nudge to wake up from a dream that I had been given a puppy under the tree who clearly needs more than just love to be healthy and happy.

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Puppies aren’t presents – they’re living, breathing creatures that require constant attention for the first two years and thoughtful attention after that for the rest of their lives.

Puppies – especially those purchased at a pet shop – are NOT returnable and come from kennels that breed specifically for profit versus the health and welfare of the dogs. Most commercial breeding kennels (or puppy mills) are prisons for female dogs forced to produce litter after litter sometimes in horrific conditions. Most female breeder dogs only live to 5 or 6 years of age (if they’re lucky) and are usually euthanized at this early age once they can no longer produce a litter that may be sold.

Many puppies sold at pet shops carry genetic and hereditary defects and some are so sick that vet bills quickly run into the thousands of dollars. In Pennsylvania, the maximum amount a consumer may recover from a pet shop for a sick puppy purchase is the price of the dog.

If you’re struggling in today’s tough economic times, please don’t acquire a puppy unless you’re capable of providing at least $1,500 a year for quality food, veterinary care and a suitable environment that includes daily walks, toys to avoid the destruction of property, training and your personal time to give affection.

Finally, the holiday is the worst time to bring a puppy into the home: it’s too hectic, there are too many dangerous items lying about and most people are usually too busy to take the puppy out every two hours during the housebreaking phase. It’s just not fair to the puppy.

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Adopt--don't buy!

Bringing a companion animal into the home should never be done on impulse. Instead, take the time to investigate which breed would be best for you, your family and the lifestyle you’re comfortable with and then do the right thing: find a shelter or breed specific rescue that can provide (for a fraction of the price of a pet shop) the dog of your dreams.

Jenny Stephens is the director of North Penn Puppy Mill Watch, a Lansdale based advocacy group that has been hosting weekly pet shop demonstrations – rain or shine – since 2006 to raise awareness about where pet shop puppies come from and to increase appreciation for pet adoption and rescue. For up-to-date information about Pennsylvania puppy mill issues and related companion animal news, visit

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December 8, 2010 at 11:21

Love this post!!! I hope anyone who is considering getting a puppy at any time of year reads this first :)

December 8, 2010 at 11:33


Didn’t Jenny do a great job with this article? On a separate note, I just sent an email to a cat rescue to see about fostering/adopting options. But it is something we have been thinking about for a long time, so nothing on a whim, and wouldn’t necessarily be for the holidays.

Sadly, far too many pets end up in the shelters (or worse) after the holidays.

Thanks for commenting; good to see you again!

December 24, 2010 at 09:23

I love this post, too!! People need to be aware that it takes money, time, and love in order to properly take care of a “furry child”. I purchased a miniature schnauzer puppy for myself for Christmas in 1992 from a lady who had been breeding her own dogs for several years and had a great reputation. I then purchased a miniature daschaund in January of 1993 as a companion for my schnauzer. Both were the best “children” a mom could ever hope for. At the age of 3, my daschaund had to have back surgery at Auburn University Veternary Hospital. I had to take him to the vet every 2 weeks for 15-1/2 years to have his anal glands expressed. He had to go out every 1 to 1-1/2 hours all night long for 15-1/2 years!! He would not always need to “potty”, but I never wanted to take the chance of not taking him out when he went to the door in case he did really need to “potty”. I had no sleep for 15-1/2 years due to his habits, but I would not have traded this time with him for the world. I never went on a vacation from 1992 – current because I did not want to leave my “furry children”. I have OCD, which basically relates to a germ phobia on my part, and my doctor stated that my “furry children” helped me more than any medication could. It takes quite a bit of time, money, and love to properly take care of these babies, but the love they give back is immeasurable. Just a note, since the aforementioned babies have passed, I now only adopt from rescue groups and usually the older “furry children” because they deserve love and attention, too!
Thank you,

December 28, 2010 at 16:05


If all pet owners were as dedicated as you it would be a much better world. Animals are great “therapy” and as much as we have to provide for them, they truly do give back.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Lotta D
December 8, 2010 at 13:28

This is SO WRONG.
For many people this holiday season is the perfect time to bring home a pet. People who are alone, lonely, lost a companion animal and need one, have time off with nothing to do etc all can benefit from adding a pet now instead of later.
In some cases that loving pet may even stave off holiday depression right down to suicide!

December 10, 2010 at 11:43


I think the point Jenny was trying to make is that it takes a lot of work to properly care for a pet. Of course as vets we believe having pets really enriches your life! But bringing a pet into the home is a serious commitment and should not be done on impulse. That is why so many pets end up euthanized in shelters right after the holidays. Thanks for commenting and the great dialogue!

December 9, 2010 at 02:15

Great post on “explaining” the real costs of dog ownership! Most folks don’t know what they’re getting inot. Dogs are expensive!

December 10, 2010 at 11:49

Hi again Karen,

I would love to never have to have the conversation again with a pet owner who is angry that his new puppy is actually going to cost money. Who would have thought a living thing would actually cost money to feed and care for?!

Jenny did a great job with the article. Thanks again for commenting–we got the comment response working finally, did you notice?

December 9, 2010 at 20:36

This is written by a gal who knows EXACTLY what she is talking about…..the best time to go to a shelter is after Christmas as this is the time all of the puppies bought at Pet Shops with IMPULSE buying are dropped off at shelters…How Sad!!!!

December 10, 2010 at 11:52

Mary Ellen,

Jenny sure does know what she is talking about! It is sad the number of animals that are bred solely to purchased as Christmas presents that wind up euthanized in shelters a month or so later. If only people thought and used their brains more!

Thanks for commenting and reading.

December 10, 2010 at 19:30

loved it – what a clever way to get the point across

December 11, 2010 at 21:20

Didn’t Jenny do a great job? Thanks for reading and commenting Penny! Hopefully it will help get the point across to think before bringing home a living animal.

December 13, 2010 at 09:09

Great article and posting, I hope it was okay, I forwarded it on.

I think it was the HS of America that recently post a survey, that 50% of puppies bought from pet stores end up in a shelter. Of the 50% sheltered dogs, 60% are euthanized.

This morning on just one website, petfinders, there are 343,724 dogs up for adoption in shelters across the country. I’m sure a few months after Christmas that number will sadly increase substantially.

December 14, 2010 at 11:18

Hi George,

Thanks for reading and providing that statistic–343,000? Wow, that is a shocking number of dogs essentially waiting to be euthanized if not adopted. Very sad indeed.

December 15, 2010 at 03:43

Too cute and so lovely Christmas carol with the twist of super adorable pups.

December 15, 2010 at 15:40


Glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting!

January 24, 2012 at 00:23

I really like this blog post article!

July 27, 2012 at 11:36

That depends on YOU and YOUR lltfseyie.Read this about Rotties:Read this about Bullmastiffs:Read this about Boxers:Read this about Mastiffs:Now, think about which breed would fit your lltfseyie. Do you want a challenging, powerful dog like a Rottie or Bullmastiff? A goofball like a Boxer or Mastiff? A leaner dog like a Boxer or a thick dog like a Mastiff? A dog with huge work ethic and stamina like a Rottie, a relative couch potato like a Mastiff or a an athlete like a Boxer? Can you handle a willful dog?EDIT: Just wanna refute a comment made by Binka. ALL of these choices of dog are associated with health problems. However, it is definitely the Rottweiler that is known to have the worst luck with health. That’s because Rotties are poorly bred more often than Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs and Boxers because they’re more popular and widespread. NONE of these dogs should be heavily predisposed to many problems when purchased from a quality breeder, however.

February 26, 2012 at 08:38

Great article!

July 27, 2012 at 10:08

I am going to add that a rottie does need an eeipreencxd handler or one who has the backing and help of a close-by breeder, which is how I started.Brought up well these are fab dogs, but unsocialised and without strong boundaries with a firm fair leader then you may have problems. Not always. Some of them are so super in temperament that you can drag them up and they’d still be ok. As for rescue. I work with rescue and we see a lot of lovely adult dogs come through that have not put a paw wrong but lose their home from no fault of their own.An adult rottie that has got attitude and a problem doesn’t get as far as being rehomed. We have to be responsible with what we rehome. Sometimes if they are a bit naughty and cannot go out to the general public, they stay with us long enough that either an eeipreencxd dog handler comes along, a behaviourist eg. or we have room to take the dog home. They are rarely PTS, and never put out to the public.

Christel Chham
May 13, 2012 at 20:14

So predictable. Seriously, I had not one doubt. :)