A lot to think about when adopting a new pet at Christmas time

A new pet tops the list of gifts many children want for Christmas.

However, parents should think carefully before introducing a new animal into the home during the Christmas holidays, according to experts.

"Adopting a dog is a big commitment," said Lane Plunkett, the Mohave County Animal Control Operations Supervisor.

"Sometimes it is difficult to bring a dog into the home during the holidays when everyone is rushing around.

"It takes time for an animal to become acclimated to its surroundings.

It is especially difficult at Christmas time."

There are many good dogs at the shelter to choose from, including pure breed dogs, but Plunkett said it might be better to actually bring the dog home after Christmas.

"If someone wants to give a dog as a gift, that person could give a Christmas card, perhaps with a picture of a dog in it, and a message that the dog will arrive after Christmas," he said.

He also advises parents to think carefully about the age and breed of the dog the family hopes to adopt.

"The breed of a dog can be a clue in determining how it will behave - or misbehave," he said.

Working breeds, such as Malamutes, huskies, chows and shepherds are good for adults.

Older persons might want a small, easier to care for breed - a Pekingese, Chihuahua or a toy breed such as a toy poodle; and families with children should consider a good-natured dog such as a golden retriever or a yellow Labrador, he said.

Whether a dog is a pure breed or a mixed breed can also, to some degree, be a determining factor as to how the dog will behave, said veterinarian Richard Burrows.

"People want pure breed dogs because of personal preference.

Certain breeds have certain characteristics.

Labs and golden retrievers are real mellow around children," Burrows said.

"With mixed breeds you are not sure what you are getting."

Burrows' family has Australian shepherds because they are good at herding cattle.

"The shepherds are gorgeous and extremely intelligent," he said.

"We have two pure breeds and two mixed breeds."

Burrows said the cost of a pure-bred dog from a dog breeder can be expensive unless the dog comes from a pure-bred rescue group, but no matter where the dog comes from it is important to train the dog properly.

"When you get the dog there should be a trial period to see if the dog fits in with the family.

It is important to train the dog," he said.

"Untrained dogs develop bad habits."

Mohave County Animal Control has a list of pure-breed rescue groups in Arizona.

The cost of adopting a dog from the shelter is $65 for dogs four months or older.

The cost includes the license, and a spay or neuter coupon.

The cost of adopting dogs under four months is just $45, because there is no licensing requirement until the animal is four months old.

The cost of adopting a kitten or a cat from the facility is $35, which includes spay and neuter fees.

Also, anyone adopting a dog or puppy from Mohave County Animal Control is eligible for a free obedience training session.

Research shows that pet owners who take the time to train their dogs are more likely to keep them longer than owners who don't.

"We recommend that pet owners provide their pets with basic obedience training.

Behavior problems are an important reason why otherwise healthy pets are turned in to shelters," Plunkett said.

The Mohave County Animal Control can be reached at 753-2727.

The shelter is located at 950 Buchanan St.

To adopt an animal from the Pet Protection organization, a no-kill shelter, call 753-3408.

A Pet Protection adoption day will be held today from 2 p.m.

to 5 p.m.

in the lot next to Wal-Mart, according to information from the organization.

To help new and prospective pet owners understand just what it means to bring an animal into the home, and appreciate the unique nature of different breeds of animals, Alpha Books, publishers of the popular Complete Idiot's Guides series of books, recently announced the reintroduction of its comprehensive Complete Idiot's Guide series for pet ownership.

Written by experts in the field, the books examine what owners should know when acquiring, living with, and caring for a dog.

In addition to books focusing on specific breeds, the series also includes books related to caring for a dog throughout its life span.

Books in the series include: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog; The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dog Health and Nutrition; and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yorkshire Terriers, as well as guides to beagles, Labrador retrievers and dachshunds.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog, written by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.

D., includes how to choose and acquire a dog that complements an individual's or family's lifestyle.

Topics covered include preparing the home for a pet, elements of good health care, nutrition and exercise, dog etiquette and training and dealing with the death of a beloved pet.

Boneham also advises parents to buy a dog from a responsible breeder or adopt from a responsible rescue group or shelter.