Not Just Xmas Dog


Harry - not just a Xmas dog

I’m often asked for advice on choosing a dog, especially around Xmas. A common misconception among prospective dog owners is that the main concern is matching a dog to your living area. It’s lifestyle, not living area that should determine whether you buy a dog.

People who live in flats tell me they’re contemplating a small dog. These dogs tend to be highly energetic and yappy. Not a good combination for flat dwellers and their neighbours.

Others with big backyards will say they’re thinking of a larger dog. Left alone in the backyard, these dogs soon demonstrate how destructive a bored dog can be.

Regardless of their size, dogs need a lot of attention. In addition to regular exercise, play and training, dogs need a commitment that borders on monotony but is vitally important for ensuring a settled, stress-free dog.

Harry wearing a Xmas hat

People seem to forget that dogs live a long time. Playful puppies grow into willful two-year-olds, mature at 5 years and then slowly slide from middle-aged eight-year-olds into elderly dogs of twelve to fourteen years and, with luck, even older. Like children, dogs are long-term investments.

As with any investment, prospective dog owners should research their options beforehand. Visit a local dog club, watch how different dogs behave, listen to them and talk to their owners.

Above all, people should not buy a cute puppy or adopt a rescue dog unless they are fully prepared for the ongoing responsibility (and cost) of being a dog owner.

Because as my Harry who turns ten on Xmas Eve reminds us, a dog is not just for Xmas. As responsible dog owners, please pass on this message to any family or friends considering buying a dog for Xmas.

© 2007 Robert Fairhead 

This article appeared in the Village Voice Eastern-Harbourside in December 2007 and in my club newsletter, PawPrints, in 2008. I was lucky and had my Harry for three more Xmases!



Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Robert Fairhead is writer and editor at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. His book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media. And he has published two collections of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (2020) and Twelve Furious Months (2021).