A Puppy for Christmas? Here’s a Supply Checklist, Plus a Few Things to Consider

Puppy Adoption

We’re Home and it’s Christmastime. It’s the Perfect Time for a Puppy, Right?

My social media feeds have been blowing up with friends’ new pandemic puppies for the last few months.

And we’ve been thinking about getting a puppy ever since March. We went back and forth for months, but when an allergy-friendly small puppy was available for Christmas delivery, it was the nudge we needed. We’re getting a puppy for Christmas.

(If you’re considering a new pet now, it’s time to do some soul searching. Please do not get a pet now just as momentary entertainment. Pet ownership could be overwhelming when regular life resumes.  The last thing anyone wants is to have family members return to work and school, leaving a scenario where the pet is ignored or given up.)

Our Kids Have Been Asking For a Dog For a Long Time

We’ve been thinking about getting a new dog ever since our beloved Sadie passed away a few years ago. At first, I wasn’t ready to get a new dog because it was too soon. And then, “too soon” morphed into “our lives are too busy for a dog.” Years went by.

The kids are older now and they truly want another dog, though. They regularly beg for a dog and “puppy” shows up on every birthday list (to be fair, “pony” was on the list for a few years and I never gave in to that one.)

I had to be real with myself about what getting a puppy right now would mean before we could be comfortable committing to the responsibility that comes with getting a puppy.

The PROS for Getting a Puppy Right Now

With everyone home for weeks on end (we’re doing virtual school and working from home this year) it seems like the perfect time for an adorable distraction and we will have time for training.

We have time for training: Now that our big kids are home for school and my husband and I are working from home, we could easily focus on puppy training right now.

I work from home regularly: Working from home is my norm, so once school resumes I’ll be here for doggo and I know what it means to own a pet for the long haul.

Pet therapy: Not only would a puppy be a lovable, furry distraction – it would help my kids cope with the world in a way I can’t. We live with sensory issues in our household and I’m pretty sure a dog would find a special place in our hearts.

Reasons to Delay Getting a Puppy

But just because it sounds like a good idea, and even though I have all of the right reasons, it still doesn’t mean that it’s time to run out and get a puppy for everyone. We held off for YEARS because we know how big of a deal it is to get a puppy. 

My dog-loving friend April (she’s the editor of grkids.com) came up with this test for me (and others) to make sure we’re really ready for a dog. She’s concerned that people will get dogs now and not be in it for the long run. Ready for the Quiz?

Here goes:

If you can say yes to the following, you may be a family ready for a fluffball of love this Christmas.

1 – You have animal experience. You already have (or had) pets and know the responsibility. 

2 – The only thing holding you back from getting a puppy was a few weeks at home to train and acclimate a puppy. 

3 – You have plans for your puppy for the times when you’ll go on vacation. 

4 – You can afford the vet, food, treats, and toy bills. (Because there will be toys!) 

5 – You are not overwhelmed by your current responsibilities or life situation.

You may love dogs but also realize that this would not be a wise time for my family to get a new pet. We’re all trying to balance work and kids at home, thinking about my family members who may be at risk, figuring out my daughter’s birthday during quarantine, and more. If you have enough on your plate for now, it’s okay to put that puppy on hold. 

If you passed the quiz, read on.

I am pretty sure our family can handle the responsibility. It’s not going to be easy, and I need to relearn how to potty train a puppy, but we’re up for the challenge.

What About Fostering?

One option that didn’t immediately occur to me was fostering a puppy or dog.

Instead of signing up for a lifetime of pet ownership, you can foster to get a dose of puppy love.

Fostering requires an application process. Local places with foster programs include

Where can I Find a Puppy Right Now?

There are three main ways you can get a puppy or dog in West Michigan.

Adopting a pet is usually a long process, whether you go through a breeder, shelter or foster organization. (A responsible dog breeder or rescuer will have an application process, and often even home visits.)

Here are the three common ways people adopt puppies in West Michigan:

1) A Purebred from a Reputable Breeder

Our last dog was a Golden Retriever and she was the sweetest dog ever. Good dogs come from good homes – if we go for an AKC dog, we’ll check to see we’re working with a responsible breeder.

April tells me that most reputable breeders will offer to take the dog back if it doesn’t work out (no money back, but they care about their animals and want them in forever homes). Breeders should be knowledgeable about the character traits of their dogs and ask that you will be able to accommodate the specific needs of that breed.

Some will participate in programs like the AKC’s Bred With H.E.A.R.T. Program. If the breeder doesn’t even ask where you live or what kind of accommodations you have for a dog, that’s a red flag.

Breeders don’t sell dogs at a moment’s notice.

Responsible, reputable breeders often don’t have puppies available until months or weeks out. Litters are often spoken for before the mother has even given birth. And then you have to wait at least 10 weeks before the pup can come home. 

But sometimes, you may just find that golden puppy who hasn’t been claimed yet! Also, a breeder may occasionally have an older dog that’s looking for a home.

2) Rescue a Dog From an Animal Shelter

Note: Many shelters are requiring appointments for adoptions right now. Here is a listing of Animal Shelters across Michigan.

Another good option to find adoptable dogs is petfinder.com. Many of the shelters below post their dogs on their site.

Local shelters to consider:

3) Adopt a Dog from a Foster Organization

Foster volunteers are passionate about the dogs they care for and are strict about who adopts their puppies and dogs. Foster volunteers want to be sure that you are the right family for this dog; they ardently seek permanent homes for their fosters. 

Because of this, many have an extensive vetting process that includes home visits. 

Foster organizations also require that these pets are spayed or neutered before being rehomed. 

Here are some of our favorite foster dog organizations. They all have different situations during the pandemic, so check their Facebook pages for up-to-date info before reaching out to them. 

Puppy Supply Checklist

Here’s what we (mostly) put in our Amazon cart yesterday as we’re preparing for our puppy. (Thanks to the Liz, editor of kzookids.com, for telling me exactly what she bought for her new pup!)

  1. Crate
  2. Toys (mix of stuffy and chew toys)
  3. Dog shampoo
  4. Puppy treats
  5. Chew toys (puppies chew a LOT, and they’re not being naughty – they’re teething!)
  6. Brush
  7. Floor cleaner for accidents (many options here; we bought Nature’s Miracle brand)
  8. Leash/collar (harness is another consideration)
  9. Dog ID tag: many pet stores have machines to make these on-site
  10. Dog bed
  11. Bag carrier to take the puppy to the vet in while small (if you won’t have helpers riding in the car to the vet who can hold puppy)
  12. Baby gates
  13. Bitter apple spray
  14. Kibble container
  15. If coming from a foster or breeder: Towel/stuffy to get the scent from momma dog/foster home and bring it home with you

A Few Other Things You’ll Need for Your Puppy

  • A Vet for Your Puppy: Vets are very busy right now – if you’re getting a puppy, call to set up your first appointment as soon as you know the puppy will be joining your family.
  • Puppy Kindergarten: Socializing and training your puppy is important. There are often waitlists for these classes. Call now to make an appointment.

Will You Be Getting a Puppy for Christmas?

If you decide to go for it, leave us a comment telling us where you found your puppy and when it’s coming home.

If you decided to hold off, we want to hear about that, too.

Good luck with your puppy adventure!