Too early to start thinking about Christmas? Not really!
It seems to come around faster as each year goes by and already Christmas commercials are appearing on television. Children are asked what they would like as a present and the popular request is for a puppy or kitten. It has been so for many years. It is wonderful for the child but for how long? A month or maybe two and then the novelty wears off and everything gets left to the parents. This can carry on for ten or more years when the child has left school and Mum and Dad still have to face the commitment.
It is tragic, but understandable, how rescue centres become full to the brim in early spring and with the best will in the world cannot accept any more animals.
Now here is an idea. Make a child happy by making him or her an arctophile, a lover and collector of teddy bears. My wife and I have thirty-five of them occupying the lid of a chest in our bedroom. We acquire a new one every year. They cost nothing to keep, require little attention and if the child tires of them they can be pensioned off to a cupboard.
Children of all ages love teddies and many adults do too. Big game hunter, Theodore Roosevelt, known as Teddy, really started something when early in the last century he spotted a bear cub and his heart softened and he refused to shoot it.
The German toy manufacturer Stieff caught on and created the teddy bear. Other companies followed and the teddy became one of the world's most popular toys.
It was interesting to observe when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Australia they accepted a toy marsupial for Prince George.
In the past the traditional gifts for royals to exchange were live animals. A good example to set, and a sensible, compassionate step forward.