Around the holiday season, there’s a lot of noise (aside from the gift giving, parties, vacations, etc.). Chatter about how to minimize your obligations and focus on a few, important things, social cues urging you consider those less fortunate and my favorite, the push to gear up for ‘You 2.0’ since there’s a new, fresh year around the corner. Less clutter, consider others, and more new year, new you-focus. Sound about right? Plus, there’s a boatload of depression and anxiety just bursting to get out of most of us. But as soon as the pine needles fade, the lights dim and you’re left scrubbing candle wax out of an impossibly small well, those ideas of changing for the better also start to dwindle.

This holiday season, rather than ask you to make a temporary (and sometimes, let’s face it, superficial change) I’d challenge you to take on another obligation. It will work miracles. It will insist you help those in need. And it will demand a better you not just for the new year, but for years to come. It sounds scary, but I’m here to tell you that it’s equal parts adorable and downright terrifying.

My Holiday addition

I took in my 8-week old pup nearly a decade ago at the start of the holiday season. First looks made everything feel wonderful – a fuzzy, warm and impossibly cute face made the journey ahead seem deceptively easy. Bringing a pet home means considering a lot of things – namely devoting time to a new pet and considering your current commitments. Also, things like the present weather and if it’s conducive for training. For a New England native and current resident fresh out of college – all signs pointed to, ‘Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.’ But, you should know that I’ve always done things the way I wanted to do them (not based off of advice of friends, family or professionals), and I got the puppy anyway.

It was the best thing for her

She was alive, well and needing a home. If not me, who? If not now, when? I saw her ready and waiting and knew instantly, that I had love to give, a place to stay and regardless of all the excuses I could have made, one fact remained…she was there, ready and needing a home. Who was I to argue with that?

It was the best thing for me

I too was alive and for the first time, without cause, direction and seemingly (to myself), without purpose. I had taken the road more traveled. I had wrapped-up high-school, flew through an undergraduate bachelor’s degree and felt totally lost, self involved and free – but not in a good way. I needed something to be responsible for. I needed something to ground me. To this day, I caution people who are right out of college “wanting a pet” that the experience is a long and beautiful one, and will humble you. You can’t galavant around at all hours of the night because your friends urge you to. You’ll have responsibility to an animal that can’t speak to you and needs your help to live a happy and healthy life. It’s a relationship that will test you and can be rewarding, but only if you put in the effort, time and love.

We had a blast during the holidays together

Our first holiday season together was truly the most wonderful time of the year. I didn’t need to worry about too many holiday parties, since I was very newly employed and just settling into a new hometown. My extra time was spent with her. We bonded. We shared treats. I talked to her, and she learned my ways and I learned hers. We had bitter cold snow, but we made it fun. To this day, nearly ten years later, snow is one of her favorite ‘toys’ and I owe it all to that first winter when she was a puppy, I was strapped for extras and we made it the fun thing to play with. If I did need to be out later, I made sure I was somewhere where she could tag along, or I could get home safely and quickly to let her out. (Anyone with a new dog can tell you, puppy bladders are small and impatient. And if not handled with care, you’ll be doing a lot of deep carpet cleaning!)

Winter with a puppy is the BEST

Aside from her loving the snow and the cold, I did, too. It meant that with the proper footwear (for both of us) we could take nice, long, brisk walks and not get so hot and sweaty. It also meant, as I mentioned, lots of snow playtime. When it was all over, we’d pop into our cozy home together (okay, okay…into bed…I was single and didn’t care if she was my cuddle bud), throw on a movie and fall asleep. We never got overheated and always had a fun play-date in-store, regardless of other dog’s availability, or the temperature.

Are you ready for the best winter of your life with a new best pal?

For more information, contact Jen Nussinow, CMO of adopets at [email protected]