Q: My mother has always wanted a dog, and I want to surprise her with a puppy for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Just one. Don’t.
Besides being one of the most chaotic times on the calendar, the fact that your mother isn’t going to be in on the decision – one that she’ll have to live with for the next ten or more years of her life – makes your gift a potential nightmare. I’ve heard hundreds of stories about people who were positive that someone in their life would love to have a dog as a gift, only to find out, after buying the dog, that they were wrong. Evidence of this unfortunate but all too common holiday occurrence is waiting for you at your local animal shelter. And even if you are right about your mother wanting a dog, you may be wrong about her desire to actually acquire one. Sometimes the idea of something is more exciting than the reality of actually owning it. Still 100% certain that she wants to own a dog? Fine, but how do you know what type of dog she would like to own? Size, temperament, energy level, grooming requirements, puppy vs adolescent, purebred vs shelter dog – all of these things are very personal and essential pieces of information to know when picking the right dog. In my opinion, the best Christmas gift that you could give your mom would be a book about dogs, and a certificate for “The Dog Of Your Dreams.” That way, if she’s on board with the idea, the two of you could have a wonderful adventure searching for her perfect four-legged companion.