IS THERE a new puppy or kitten in your house?
A little animal is a precious thing, and its future depends entirely upon you. Adjusting to new people and surroundings can be frightening for a pet, particularly when your household is in a holiday uproar.
Every year Pausing with Pets prints this "letter" to remind children and other new pet owners that puppies and kittens are babies who need special care.
''Dear person who has adopted my baby,
''He is ready to be yours and is healthy and willing to bust his seams trying to make you happy.
''Please don't look on him as a gift pet but as a brand new best friend and member of the family who is not a throw-away after the holidays are over. And please don't overlook his needs during the festivities over the next few weeks.
''I've weaned him well, but remember if you forget to feed him he cannot get his own food. Nor can he ask for it.
''Don't be impatient if he cries. It is his only means of communicating, so please always try to find out why he is crying rather than punish him.
''Remember he needs to visit a veterinarian for protection against illnesses such as distemper and other diseases. There too, he can't go without you. So please don't put off taking him until he is sick.
''My body has been a warm comfort to him. Without me he will need you and some warm dry bedding near you and never in a dark, damp basement or outside.
''He'll need praise and love. Tell him he is good when he is and speak harshly when he makes a mistake but never, never, hit him. He is an anxious, willing and happy little fellow who will stay that way if you teach him with love and patience and not slaps.
''While he is still young, he must take many naps. When awake, playing, swatting, chewing and then swallowing will be his long suit. Beware of what he chews and swallows. Many household items are fatal for him, such as plastic that could lodge in his intestines or one of the many poisonous house plants, especially mistletoe and holly berries.
''Curiosity is also a killer. Kittens get in clothes dryers or stoves if not watched. A puppy will -- out of the door and on to the roadway without supervision.
''I hope you will remember me and how much I loved my baby, and I pray you will give him the home that I would give him if I had any say in the matter.
''Thanks for reading this and thanks for taking my baby into your family.
''Oh yes, I had one more thing to say to you. When your pet is older, he'll be as nice as you've made him. And when he has given you his life, then please give him a loving retirement with you and don't give him away when he is old.
''With all best wishes for a happy future,