The Art of Gifting

only 9.89Does Pettigrew need a winter coat? Would he enjoy one?

Growing up, I don’t recall ever seeing a dog with a coat. Now they are everywhere. It makes me self-conscious when we’re out for a walk. Am I adequately providing for his needs? Am I exposing myself as a neglectful caregiver?

old english sheepdog
A sheepdog in all its furry glory.

He is a short-haired dog. Maybe that doesn’t keep him as warm as the impressive fur coat of the Old English Sheepdog with whom I grew up.

Or is this one of those things being pushed down our throats by merchants? Are we gifting our dogs with coats because of how it makes us feel?

adoption day 2012b
Pettigrew seems more interested in the rawhide bone birthday gift than his  angel’s wings t-shirt.

Pettigrew hates wearing the cone, but he did tolerate the angel’s wings t-shirt we made him for his birthday one year Happy Adoption Day Pettigrew! Maybe a coat would be like that. Then again, I remember him being glad when I pulled the t-shirt off.

I wish I could ask.

And therein lies the rub. I can’t. This is a question he is unable to answer despite his prodigious communication skills C-3PO May Have Met His Match in my Multi-Lingual Dog and Dog Dictionary: A concise dictionary of canine-to-English and English-to-canine language.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed some trends in gifting. Growing up, my family took no points off for asking if the giftee would enjoy receiving a certain item. In fact, you got credit for having suggested something plausible and enjoyable.

Since then I’ve learned that for some, surprise is one of the most important factors. The idea of asking…too horrifying to contemplate.

There is also the little-discussed element of matching. This is especially true in a new and developing relationship. You don’t want to come on too strongly, buying an expensive gift thereby risking overwhelming the other person and implying a deeper level of connection than actually exists, BUT you also don’t want to choose something too casual, downplaying, or perhaps disguising your true level of feeling. Ideally, you want to match: you both choose equally meaningful, or casual, gifts.

I suspect this may be why some people opt out of the whole gift-giving tradition. It seems fraught. The risk of catastrophic failure too high.

But back to the question of Pettigrew and the coat, should I just buy one or is that falling victim to advertising? Once it’s on, I bet Pettigrew would figure out a way to quickly let me know whether he likes it or not.

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