Read This BEFORE You Adopt or Buy the Kids a Puppy

4 min read

It's the most adorable gift ever, and one of the most expensive to maintain

This article is courtesy of

By Jeffrey Klineman

Dogs long ago earned their reputation as man’s best friend. They’re loyal, lovable, and furry. In this holiday gift-giving season, you may be toying with the idea of tying a red bow on a little pup and handing over the cuddly bundle to your grandchild.

Yes, sounds like a swell idea. Before you swoop up a fluffy pet and sign any papers, though, you'd do well to ask yourself: Just how much do you enjoy seeing those grandchildren of yours?

If the answer falls anywhere within the quite-a-bit to lots-and-lots range, you'd better walk out of the kennel right now and think about getting them a different gift. If there's one surefire way to lose your guest room privileges, it's by foisting a cute little critter on a family that wasn't expecting one.

In giving a pet, you're adding another member to your adult child's family — even if it is a furry one. And people tend to get choosy about whom they accept into the family. My wife was quick to narrow our decision down to this choice: (a) a cockapoo so well-prepared for family life — the breeder slept on the floor with the litter for his first six weeks of life — that he lets the babies drip ketchup on him without complaint, or (b) a pile of clippings from a nearby groomer.

"Taking care of a pet properly is a major responsibility," says Bruce Henderson, a psychology professor at Western Carolina University. "Would it make sense for a grandparent to give a grandchild a brother or sister?"

Okay, pets aren't kids. But they do affect family dynamics. They need to be walked, fed, taken care of medically, and have the unfortunate ability to either die or poop in the house at the exact wrong time. Henderson warns that grandparents who take the leash into their own hands, or even talk about getting the grandchildren a pet without the parents around, could create major disruptions.

Transfer of Ownership

Now, if you still have a hankering to pull a guerrilla Rover maneuver, and think you're charming enough to stick around after the attempt, ask yourself: How much do you want a new pet of your own?

A grandparent pet buyer's outcome may likely be this: That sucker is gonna be yours, and yours alone. Hope you've got a space picked out. Unless, that is, you want to contribute to the thousands of animals that are abandoned annually. In Massachusetts alone, more than 26,000 pets were left with the MSPCA in 2006.

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