WILL THERE be a new puppy or kitten in your house for the holidays?
A little animal is a precious thing, and its future depends entirely upon you. Adjusting to new people and surroundings can be frightening for it, 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 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 scold 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 which is 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, 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, which could lodge in his intestines, or one of the many poisonous house plants, especially mistletoe and holly berries.
''Curiosity is also a killer for babies like mine. Kittens get in clothes dryers or stoves if not watched. A puppy, without supervision, will -- out of the door and onto the roadway.
''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 giving my baby a family.
''Oh yes, I had one more thing to say to you. When my baby grows older, he'll be as nice as you've made him.''
''With all best wishes for a happy future.''
From his mother.