"With only six days left until Christmas Day, there will be thousands of parents planning to buy a gorgeous little puppy to fulfil the wish and constant demands of their children. Driven by the pester power of their young in the run up to the big day, many parents may give way to their seasonal impulse and plan their pet surprise without giving full thought to the months and years ahead.
For a few days, the magic of the puppies will add seasonal glitter to the family festivities; then before they become house trained and the carpets are torn, the furniture chewed, the walls scratched and small puddles and poo patches appear wherever one walks, parental patience will start to wear thin.
'Who's going to look after them when we're both out at work? They're small now, but give them six and months and they'll cost more to feed than our three children! I told you to check their sex before you bought them, didn't I? Two bitches will certainly have the garden filled with neighbourhood strays all year round! And you'll be the one to walk them early morning and the last thing at night whatever the weather; it was you that gave in to the children!'
Within the month, sadly many children will come home from school to find their pet puppies gone. Dad or mum will come up with some pretend reason to explain away their sudden absence and once the children realise that their pets will not be returning, they suffer their first feelings of bereavement and heartache. The untold harm these thoughtless and inconsiderate adults have caused to two of God's harmless creatures and three children is unthinkable!
And yet, it happens every Christmas without fail. Indeed, some heartless individuals will abandon the Christmas puppies out in the wild in the misguided belief that they will somehow be able to survive by their own instinct or be found by a new owner. I have even heard of the cruelty of drowning in some instances and even saw it occasionally when I was young. The lucky ones are deposited at the dog pound and if not claimed within a short span of time or found new owners, they are humanely put down! Such are the cruel facts after the Christmas spirit has worn off.
Please remember, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Each year immediately after Christmas and often before the festive tree has been taken down, thousands and thousands of abandoned dogs in dog pounds are put to sleep. Council dog pounds do not have the space to keep them like most refuge centres do and there are too few refuge centres to meet the problem faced all year round. So please have a care before you bring a puppy into your home this Christmas, however appealing the idea first seems.
If you are an animal lover like me and my wife Sheila, you will already know of the unique bond that can exist between human and pet. Sheila has had many dogs over the years and all of her dogs have come from rescue centres. Having a dog in your life enhances all that is good in life. The content of their feeling is visible in their faces. Just look at the health and happiness of Goldie and Abby who are the pets of our friends, the Dowers from County Waterford. The fact that these dogs love their lives and owners is evident for all to see.
I believe that both place and manner of a dog's death is a sacred one. It should be carried out in a place of quiet reassurance with the owner by the bedside to say 'goodbye.' As the German sociologist, Theodor W. Adorno, remarked: 'Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks, they’re only animals.'
Have a lovely Christmas everyone and if you are thinking of getting a dog for Christmas, please remember a dog is for life, not just Christmas. Do not buy from litter farms. Look first in the refuge centre nearest to you and be it pedigree or mongrel you desire, you'll most likely find the perfect dog for you.
All dog lovers out there, be they child or adult, will love my book 'Tales of Bernard' in which all the characters are different breeds of homeless pedigree dogs. The book is available in e-book format or hard paper copy from www.lulu.com or amazon. All profits from book sales go to charity." William Forde: December 19th, 2015.