No matter your current or in-progress plans for this gift-giving holiday season, sometimes a bit of puppy love from “[wo]man’s best friend” is the key to ultimate happiness, or at least brightening your day.

In reality though, when it comes to giving pets as gifts, many dogs and other animals suffer the consequences of being treated like disposable objects rather than a living creature.  In the UK alone, 3 pets are abandoned every hour around the Christmas period.

Some things to consider before getting a pet of any kind are:

1) Do I have the time to train and properly take care him/her?
2) Am I financially stable enough to take care of his/her veterinary bills, food and other needs?
3) Will my situation be changing anytime soon (e.g., having children or moving abroad)?
4) Do I intend to keep him/her for life? *(if “no”, there are still options for you! See below)

If you’re confident that you can uphold these considerations, and you feel you are ready to introduce a new pet to your home but are not quite sure how to go about it ethically, check out these 5 ways to have a dog for Christmas (and any other time of the year). We’ll have you covered for plenty of poochy cuddles and pooper scoopers!

5 Ways to Have a Dog For Christmas (and any Other Time of the Year)

1. Foster

*Remember when we asked you if you could commit long term?
Foster families for animals give a home to those before adoption. Basically, you look after young puppies for an average of 4-6 weeks with lots of love and nurturing! Perfect for those who can’t commit to a long-term companion or want to have a trial run of caring for a dependant pet – also brilliant for lovers of baby animals, which is basically everyone, right? Plus, fostering is a brilliant option to be around animals if you have some time off this holiday season but not during a working year.

2. Volunteer for Dog Walking

If you can’t have a dog yourself but still love the cute creatures, volunteering to walk your friend’s, neighbor’s or relative’s dog could help remedy your doggy deprivation. Heck, you could even make a flyer for your local community noticeboard or newspaper and advertise your dog walking services for some money. If you’re on your winter holiday break from work or school and have some spare time to use, walking dogs is the perfect way for outdoorsy-people to spend this holiday season!

3. Adopt (With Long-Term Commitment)

If you and your family are in the position to adopt a dog or other animal, there is always an excess of friends that need a forever home at animal rescue shelters. As there is a wide range of breeds, shapes, sizes and ages that dogs are found in – you can choose who will join your family and find the best fit for both animal and humans. Please only adopt animals that you can commit to long-term, and please if you adopt an animal for someone else as a gift, ensure their circumstances are adequate to provide long-term care for their new family member.

4. Sponsor a Dog/Other Animal at Rescue Shelters

Adopting a forever pet or walking other people’s dogs won’t work for everyone, due to allergies or other circumstances – but that doesn’t mean dogs can’t be a part of your life, still. There are many animal rescue shelters and homes across the world which ensure the high care and life quality of dogs and other animals. However, feeding and caring for animals isn’t cheap and doggy homes are super grateful for any assistance they receive. If you can, try asking for an animal to be sponsored on your behalf, or a donation to your local shelter this season.

5. Have a Doggy Over For Dinner

If you’ve always dreamed of having a doggy dinner party but don’t have your own pet, invite one, or let’s be real – as many as possible, over for a dog’s dinner! Everyone can bond over a mutual love (or adoration) for the canine friends! Human guests will love a good vegan feast (to refuel from all the dog walking) and even the doggies can enjoy some delicious, homemade vegan dog treats! If you’re spending Christmas or New Years alone this year, instead why not spend it with dogs over dinner?