Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Pet as a gift

You’ve seen it before (most likely on the big screen): a beautifully wrapped present is placed on the floor, someone goes to pick it up, and it moves! Ah, and then the delight of opening the box to find a furry angel inside! The pet-as-gift is a charming idea for movies and TV shows, but does it make sense to give a pet as a gift in real life?

Why You Might Consider Giving a Pet as a Gift

Do you have a friend who is always talking about how much they want a dog? Or perhaps you have a family member who lives alone, and you just know that a cat would make a perfect companion. Giving a pet as a gift is a well-intentioned act, and indeed very generous — after all, pets bring such joy and love to their owners. However, while you might be sure that your friend or family member would be delighted to receive a fluffy new friend, they might have a different idea, and it’s important to do your homework before you give.

RELATED STORY: What Are Puppy Mills?

Considerations Before You Give a Pet as a Gift

Here are some things to consider before you give a pet as a gift:

  • Lifespan and health of the pet and pet parent: The recipient you have in mind should be prepared to care for the pet you give them for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the animal’s age and expected life expectancy. That’s a big time commitment, and all pets need daily care.
  • The annual cost to raise a pet: Pets cost money. While you might be covering the cost of buying the pet, the recipient will have to pay for their veterinary care, food, medications, and other supplies. Can the recipient afford that, or would they want to?
  • Real estate restrictions: Are there any restrictions that would not allow the recipient to have a pet in their home or apartment? Many landlords, for example, will allow small pets but not large pets, and many require a hefty deposit regardless of the size of the animal.
  • Allergies: Is the recipient allergic to any animals? When in doubt, ask.
  • Pet compatibility: Does the recipient own other animals? Do those animals get along with other animals?
  • Dedication, time and patience: When you see pets given as gifts in movies and TV shows, they are usually pudgy puppies or fuzzy kittens. But puppies and kittens are a lot of work. They require training, time, and plenty of patience. Presenting someone with an adorable baby animal may seem like a sweet idea, but consider what the recipient is in for once the gift giving is over and you’ve gone home.
  • Desire and commitment: Be sure that the recipient wants a pet. Saying “I love dogs!” is not the same thing as saying “I want to own a dog, care for it for the next decade, and pay for whatever needs come up!

If you do decide to give a pet, don’t put it in a closed box, even if the box has breathing holes. The pet could get hurt or become scared, and you don’t want the animal’s first experience with their new owner to be a frightening one.

RELATED STORY: Choosing The Right Dog For My Family

Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift

If you still like the idea of giving a pet as a gift but aren’t sure the best way to go about it, consider these alternatives:

  • Give a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or breeder. Adoption is a very personal experience, and most people like picking out their own pet.
  • If you decide to give a gift certificate or money for a new pet but want to find a way to spice up the presentation, consider a care package. Put together supplies that the recipient will need to care for their new pet: food, a leash, toys, a bed, a gift certificate for a first vet visit, etc. That way, they won’t have to worry so much about the details and can start enjoying their new friend right away.

Another great item to add to a pet care package? A membership to PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at

Would you ever give a pet as a gift? Have you ever received one? Leave a comment and let us know.


Pros and Cons of Getting a Second Dog


My husband and I talk about it all the time: should we get a second dog?! We love our dog Wade and we often wonder if getting a second dog would make his life better (and our life better, too!) Of course, there will always be pros and cons, whether you’re talking about getting a pet for the first time or thinking about adding another furball to the family. Our minds aren’t made up yet, which inspired me to put some pros and cons on paper. Let’s take a look!

Pros of Getting a Second Dog

You’ll Have Another Dog!

Call me Captain Obvious, but if you’re already a dog lover (like I am), the prospect of adding another fuzzy face to the picture is sure to fill your heart with joy. Do you love the pitter patter of little paws around the house? What about a fluffy head on your lap while you read? Think about all of those wonderful things — then multiply them by two!

Your Dog Will Have a Companion

Human companionship is great, but there’s nothing quite like another dog when it comes to Fido’s friendships. Your dog will have someone to play with, someone to explore with, and someone to sleep with (aww). Having another dog to pal around with may keep your dog from getting bored when you’re out of the house or distracted at home. And if the new dog that you bring home is confident, it may help to bolster your original dog’s confidence, thus improving their overall behavior.

RELATED STORY: Is My Dog Weird? 5 Strange Dog Behaviors Explained

A Second Dog May Make Losing a Dog Easier

It’s something that most pet parents don’t want to think about, but at some point every dog will pass on, and having another around may help to ease the emotional burden when the time comes. No dog will ever be able to replace another dog, of course, but a second dog may offer comfort and companionship while you go through the grieving process.

Cons of Getting a Second Dog

Double Your Expenses

This is perhaps the biggest reason why pet parents nix the idea of adding a second pet. Expect to double your expenses when it comes to veterinary care, medicine, food, supplies, boarding, dog walkers… you get the idea. While many boarders offer deals for multiple dogs and you can purchase foods and supplies in bulk, at the end of the day you’re still looking at more spending.

Travel Can Be Tricky

If you like to take your dog everywhere with you, you’ll have to get used to the idea that many public places allow one dog, but not two, and that getting two crates into the car can be a bigger hassle than assembling just one. In addition, as mentioned above, boarding two dogs will cost more than boarding one. If you’re a real jetsetter, this may be an important point to consider.

RELATED STORY: What Are the Best Dogs to Travel With?

It’s Possible That They Won’t Get Along

Yep, it’s true, and I’ve seen it happen. The best way to avoid this situation is to make sure that both dogs are well-trained and free of behavioral issues, such as anxiety, fear, or aggression. Behavioral issues can not only cause tension between the dogs, they can also spread from one dog to another (so if your first dog wasn’t aggressive, they might become aggressive if you add a second dog who is).

You’ll want to introduce the dogs slowly; don’t just toss them in the same room together. Let them get to know each first other on loose leashes (a tense leash can stress a dog out), and then through a barrier like a baby gate. Don’t force interactions, but do allow the dogs to sniff and introduce themselves. Look for signs of tension or aggression, such as growling and stiff postures. Once the dogs aren’t engaging in greeting behaviors (such as sniffing) anymore, and you don’t see any signs of fearful or threatening behavior, you should be good to go.*

*Note: this is just a brief explanation of how to introduce two dogs for the first time; it’s always a good idea to consult a trainer before actually trying it yourself.

So what do you think? Should we get another dog? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


Meet Muttville, A Senior Dog Rescue Organization

If you’ve ever owned a senior dog, you know how special they can be. Most are happy to spend their golden years lounging on the sofa, taking easygoing walks, and offering lots of cuddles. Unfortunately, many senior dogs lose their owners to old age or are abandoned because of medical or behavioral issues. In San Francisco, that’s where Muttville comes in.

Muttville is a senior dog rescue organization that was founded in 2007 by Sherri Franklin, a long-time volunteer at local animal shelters and a member of the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare.

“I’ve always loved the underdog,” says Sherri who, in addition to being the founder of Muttville, is also the organization’s Executive Director. “I’ve learned that it takes a village to do it well, and our Mutt-village grows larger every day. Muttville has hundreds of volunteers and foster parents, and for each and every person, I am grateful that they care about abandoned senior dogs as much as I do. It’s gratifying to save each and every life and see the impact every dog has on the people that care for them. Then, to see a rescued senior find a new beginning with an adopter is the icing on the cake!”

The Rescue Process

So how do senior dogs end up at Muttville? The organization receives hundreds of requests each week from California shelter volunteers, workers, and individuals asking that Muttville step in and help save a senior dog. Currently, Muttville’s capacity is 65 to 75 dogs at any give time.

“We do the best we can with our capacity,” says Sherri. “They come to headquarters in San Francisco by plane, van, and automobile. Volunteer pilots with Wings of Rescue and Pilots ‘n Paws, as well as our own transport volunteers make it happen!”

Once a new dog arrives at Muttville, it receives a number, a name if necessary, a Muttville ID tag, a harness for outside walks, and as volunteer Patty Stanton says, “lots of love from reassuring volunteers.” This is all followed by a bath and a visit to Katy, Muttville’s in-house Vet Tech, who uncovers any health issues and addresses any immediate health needs. Then the dog is matched with a foster parent with whom they will stay and await an adoption application.

Reasons To Adopt A Senior

Some people may wonder why anyone would want to adopt a senior dog if it only has a few years left to live. The fact is that there are plenty of good reasons, from helping a dog’s final years be good ones to benefitting from the lessons that a senior dog has already learned.

“Seniors come with life experience, manners, and gratefulness,” says Sherri. “We believe Muttville has helped to make senior dogs more desirable. After all, some people want a dog that is already housetrained and has a pace to match their lifestyle.”

In addition, Sherri says that potential adopters should know that a senior dog that was once someone else’s pet has nothing but love to give.

“Seniors are more mellow and soulful. They know who butters their bread,” says Sherri. “I also hear from many adopters about how rewarding it is to give one of our older dogs a second chance at love in their golden years. Many adopters have come back to adopt a second or even a third dog from us!”

Thus far, Muttville has placed over 2,300 dogs into loving homes, and more are adopted every day. If you are interested in adopting, head over to Muttville’s “How To Adopt” page. And if you are a senior (62+ years old), you can check out Muttville’s Seniors For Seniors program.

“Muttville’s senior dogs are the perfect companions for senior humans,” says Sherri. “They’re mellow and well socialized, and they want nothing more than the gentle care of someone who loves them.”

Other Ways to Help

If you aren’t in a position to adopt, there are other ways to help Muttville, including fostering, volunteering, and donating.

Muttville’s foster homes are in the San Francisco Bay Area and play a large part in the adoption process. The dog is able to live in a relaxed, family environment (rather than a busy shelter) and establish a daily routine. In addition to day-to-day care, foster parents take their dogs to Muttville adoption events at least once a month, and if someone applies to adopt the dog, they take part in the process to determine if the situation is a good fit.

You can also volunteer with Muttville if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each day of the week, dog-loving volunteers are on site to help with walking, cleaning, feeding, bathing, grooming, and more.

“We also have volunteers who enjoy talking about the available dogs at outreach events, or give their marketing skills to Muttville,” says Sherri. “Others plan events, volunteer as adoption counselors, or are part of the Seniors for Seniors team. A Seniors for Seniors example is our monthly Cuddle Club, whereby senior citizens from senior centers come to Muttville and cuddle the older dogs with the help of a team of volunteers helping to make that happen. It’s pretty adorable!”

Don’t live in the San Francisco area but still want to help out? Consider making a donation via the “Donate” button on Muttville’s Facebook page or the “Give” button on Muttville’s site. You could also become a monthly Mutt Guardian, whereby an amount starting at $10 is deducted from your credit card once a month. Mutt Guardians help sustain Mutville’s rescue efforts as the organization spends $900 on average for each rescued dog’s vet care.

Our Gift to Adopters

As a thanks to senior-loving pet parents, PetPlus will offer a free trial of our benefit program to the next five dogs adopted from Muttville! PetPlus provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding, and more. To become a member, learn more at

Upcoming Event

If you live in San Francisco, you can help celebrate Muttville, Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days, and the recent naming of “Rescue Row” on May 31, 2014. Rescue Row is the honorary name of the section of Alabama Street between 15th and 16th streets that is home to four animal welfare organizations, including Muttville.

On May 31st, you can join the organizations for an official unveiling. It is the first of its kind in the nation! Read the press release or visit for more info.



How To Pick The Perfect Pet Name

Bringing a pet home for the first time is one of life’s greatest joys. To prepare for your new pal’s arrival, you’ll need to select food, toys, a veterinarian, household supplies, and oh yes, a name! The sooner you begin using your buddy’s new name, the sooner they’ll learn it and start feeling right at home. So how does one come up with a good pet name? Check out these useful tips.

General Tips For Choosing A Pet Name

When it comes time to choose a pet name, consider these basic guidelines:

  • Pick a name that your pet will easily understand. One or two syllable names tend to be the best.
  • Avoid names that sound similar to command words. The name “Bo” might be too close to “No,” for example.
  • Avoid names that sound like the names of other people or animals living in the house. Is your son named Jack? Don’t name your dog Max.
  • Don’t change the name of a shelter pet or pre-owned pet. Trying to a force a new name on your pal may confuse them and make them feel anxious.

RELATED STORY: How To Adopt A Dog Or Cat: Every Question Answered

How To Come Up With A Pet Name

Ready to start brainstorming names? Need a little inspiration? Here are some ideas:

Pull From Pop Culture
Are you a movie buff? TV fanatic? Music enthusiast? Bona fide bookworm? Why not take inspiration from your favorite form of entertainment? If you’re a David Bowie fan, you could name your furball Ziggy. Do you love the Star Wars movies? How about the names Obi, Yoda, or Leia? The possibilities are endless when you look to what you love.

Answer The Call Of Nature
Nature is filled with loads of lovely names for pets. If you have a fluffy Chow Chow dog, you could name them Bear! Or how about a gray kitten named Pigeon? There are plenty of great flower and plant names, too. We like Aster, Quince, Fig, and Tulip.

Explore Other Cultures
Consider your breed’s heritage when choosing a name. Do you have a German Shepherd or German Pinscher? Check out some German human names, such as Wendel or Bamey. Bringing home a Persian cat? Look up Persian names like Gita, Ebi, and Lila.

Pick From The Most Popular
Looking for a name that is a guaranteed winner? These are the top dog and cat names of 2013 according to

Top 5 Female Puppy Names:
1. Bella
2. Daisy
3. Lucy
4. Molly
5. Sadie

Top 5 Male Puppy Names:
1. Max
2. Buddy
3. Charlie
4. Rocky
5. Cooper

RELATED STORY: The Most Popular Dog Breeds

Top 5 Female Kitten Names:
1. Bella
2. Lucy
3. Kitty
4. Luna
5. Chloe

Top 5 Male Kitten Names:
1. Oliver
2. Max
3. Tiger
4. Charlie
5. Simba

RELATED STORY: The Top Cat Breeds In The U.S.

Once you choose a name for your pet, start using it right away, but only when you want to get your pet’s attention. If you use it too often at first — for example, in conversations with your significant other – your pet may simply think it’s just another common word.

When you do use your pet’s name, offer them praise, attention, and treats when they look at you. Eventually, your pet will recognize their name and you can stop rewarding every acknowledgement.

How did you come up with your pet’s name? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.


How to Make a Great First Impression on a Dog


It’s a common tactic to try to decode a pet’s body language, but what if we want to talk back? How does the way we hold and carry ourselves communicate to a dog we don’t know well? Here are a few tips to get your messages across loud and clear, without saying a word.

1. Keep your hands to yourself.

When meeting a dog for the first time, it might feel natural to extend your hand, whether it’s to let the dog sniff it or to offer a friendly pat on the head. However, many dogs, and especially a dog who isn’t familiar with you, would really rather you kept your hands to yourself because extending your hand can be perceived as an invasion of space or an act of aggression.

Instead, let the dog come to you and sniff at their leisure. Dogs love to sniff hello, so just relax and let it happen.

RELATED ARTICLE: Reading Dog Body Language

2. Avert your eyes.

When you look a dog in the eyes, they perceive it as a sign of hostility or an attempt to dominate them. If you’ve ever tried to make eye contact with a dog, you might notice that they look away. They are either being polite or submissive to your gaze. It’s best to give the dog the once over without locking eyes.

3. Pet strategically.

While it’s normal to think dogs don’t mind a pat on the head, it’s not quite right, especially as you’re getting to know a dog. As your hand travels above their eyes and out of sight, many dogs start to feel pretty nervous. Instead, keep your hands in plain view, and pet a pup where they can turn their head and see your hand. Many dogs enjoy a good scratch on the rump.

RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Dog Commands You Need to Know

4. Get on your forearms to play.

If you know a dog’s owner well enough to engage in some physical play with their pup, then ask permission first just to rule out the chance their dog has some issues with aggression or rough behavior. If it’s okay, then get down on your forearms with your tush in the air. This is the signal for “Let’s play!” in the dog world. Get ready to rumble!

How do you communicate with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 


Purina One’s Cat Cafe is a Smash Success

This past week, Purina ONE and the North Shore Animal League joined forces, coming up with the idea that ended up being a perfect storm for a real world viral sensation — a pop-up cat cafe. All the ingredients are there. Cats. Lattes. Impermanence. Did I mention they had cats? How could the masses resist!

For those unaware of what a “pop-up shop” is, it is a store that exists for only a brief period of time. A common example are stores that sell seasonal wares (i.e., Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations).

And this was not done simply to amuse. The North Shore Animal Shelter has filled the cafe with cats eligible for adoption. So, while you may have only come in for a cappuccino, you might have ended up leaving with a kitty under your arm.


The first establishment of its kind in America, this cat cafe was piggybacking off the recent trend cropping up first in Japan, and now a few cities across Europe (like the popular Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London). And while it is not a permanent fixture, this “pop-up” has certainly sparked its fair share of interest. Just look at what Twitter had to say.

Due to the massive popularity of the cafe and limited amount of patrons allowed inside (they didn’t want to overstimulate the cats), the average wait time to even get through the door at Purina’s Cat Cafe was around 2-3 hours! But for those that made it through the arduous wait, the experience made it worth their while.  


If you missed the Purina ONE Cat Cafe, just keep your ear to the ground. With the massive success that it was, you can be sure that other companies and shelters will be following suit, offering patrons the unique experience of sipping a latte while petting a kitty.


Momma Pitty Pumpkin Needs Help! And A Home!

When Sara Jackson found Momma Pitty Pumpkin pregnant on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, she took her right home, despite the fact that she already had a foster dog and two other dogs of her own.

“She had sores running down all of her legs, her nails were curled under, and her hips were showing,” Sara said. “She had obviously been living outside and was being used to make money for someone.”

A week after bringing her home, Momma gave birth to 8 beautiful pups, all of whom Sara was able to place with loving families.

“We were able to partner up with so many amazing people who gave us great connections with spaying and neutering and all of their vaccines,” Sara said. “It truly took an army to rescue this amazing group of babies.”

Once the puppies had been placed in homes, Sara was able to start focusing on Momma. Momma had a large mass on her back right hip that a vet had previously aspirated (drained), and said could be drained again. Sara hoped this would be taken care of when she took Momma in to be spayed, but after some testing, it was discovered that Momma had cancer. Later testing revealed that it was mast cell 2 cancer.

The mass was removed during Momma’s spay, and because the vet estimated that Momma was only 2 years-old, Sara decided that it would be worth the additional cost to go through with radiation to ensure that the cancer would not spread to the rest of her organs.

Fun Fur All Fundraiser For Momma’s Treatment

The additional cost, however, is not minimal. Radiation therapy will cost $6,000. To help raise the money, Sara is hosting an event in Charlotte on Mother’s Day. The event, which can be found on Facebook at Momma Pitty’s Run Fur Fun 5K and Silent Auction, will include a 5K run, a 1 mile walk, and a fun-filled day of live music, photographers, a silent auction, costume and talent contests, massages, and a pit bull kissing booth featuring Momma’s puppies at Dog Bar, where Sara works on the weekends.

Dog Bar is a dog-friendly off leash bar in Charlotte. It’s almost like a dog park, but with drinks and live music.

“Momma is always at the bar with me, most of the time she is caught ON the bar,” Sara said. “This is her favorite spot and is often seen begging people to pick her up to put her on the bar so that she can kiss everyone directly in the face.”

Adopt Momma!

If Momma sounds like the kind of loving dog you’d like to bring home, consider adopting her! Sara is fostering Momma for now, but hopes to find her a forever home.

A bit about Momma:

– Breed: Pit bull

– Age: Estimated to be 2 years-old

– Weight: 40 lbs.

Crate trained, potty trained, knows basic commands

Walks well on a leash, and can even walk off leash and will come back when called

– Well-socialized and loves people and other dogs

– Loves to swim!

“Her love for life just beams through her large Pitty smile,” Sara said. “She is not only beautiful on the outside — her soul just shines.”

And a note about Momma’s cancer:

“We do not want anyone to be discouraged because of the fact Momma has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mass has been removed; we are doing radiation as a precaution,” Sara said. “Many bully breeds are known for having this cancer and it is something that as a dog owner we feel you should be prepared for even in a healthy dog.  Cancer in dogs is a lot like cancer in people, you treat and do what you can, but you do not just cast the dog aside.”

As a thank you to Sara for all that she has done for Momma and her pups,we are offering her six months free of PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. We will also offer a free year of PetPlus to whoever adopts Momma to help them take care of her.

If you are interested in adopting Momma or supporting Sara’s fundraiser, visit the event’s Facebook page and leave a message, or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you with Sara’s direct contact info. Good luck, Sara!