Alone for the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us. Most commonly called by humans “December” or the “Season of Giving,” it is a time when all the Neopets and their owners gather together in harmony and good cheer, a time for reunion with loved ones, and a time when abundance is felt by all, rich and poor. Owners will roam the newly decorated streets as they search for gifts for their Neopets, and those lucky enough will be at the NC mall stuffing their spectacular stockings. Even the poorer families will be found gathered around the Giving Tree, scavenging for presents worthy of offering to their loved ones on the Day of Giving. There will be differences in the way individuals celebrate, for sure, but one thing will be the same for them all: everyone will be together during this season of love.
But there are exceptions. For one, the pound pets who don't have a home- the ones you see pictures of plastered all over the Neoboards by caring owners trying to spread the word. Though a good deal of pound pets are adopted during the holidays, a far larger amount are left in cages with only a little food and drink, and no toys to play with or presents to unwrap. These pets will have their faces up against the doors of their prisons, hoping they will be lucky enough to be adopted by a kind owner who will give them a home for the holidays. Now, most everyone is aware of these individuals- it's hard to miss the giant banners and flyers posted all over the Neoboards, not to mention all the heartwarming stories of lucky adoptees that are printed in the Neopian Times (as well as all the heartbreaking ones of pets still searching for homes).
But there is another- perhaps even worse- problem that persists in Neopia: the abandoned Neopets. Not the abandoned Neopets as in the ones in the pound, but the pets whose owners left without a trace. The ones who woke up one morning only to find that their caretaker wasn't logged in like they usually were. The ones who will be anxiously pacing about their Neohomes and hoping that their human they love so much will be there for them in time for the holidays. The Neopets whose owners have gone on unexpected hiatus or left Neo permanently have it far worse than the pound pets for multiple reasons.
For one, they don't have the hopes of being adopted by someone else- to claim a pet already owned by someone else is physically impossible in Neopia. No kind owners consider taking these abandoned pets home; they already have a home. But the home they have is empty. Another thing, nobody is aware of these pets’ problems. A Neopet without an owner, but who still has a comfortable bed to sleep in and space to run around, just doesn't provide for the heart-wrenching stories that pounded pets do- so the Neopian Times has omitted entries on this issue completely. The most surprising- and perhaps most disturbing- problem, is that these pets are left with not just a bare minimum of the food they need to survive by pound caretakers (as the pounded pets are), but they get no food at all. Their pantries may be stocked, and their inventories may be full, but without their owner there to unlock everything there's no physical way for these poor creatures to access a necessary food supply. This is a frustrating issue, since it could be avoided save for the fact that the Soup Kitchen requires pets to stay with their owner (to reduce the number of pound escapees). Even if they appear to be claimed, a pet MUST show their owner before they are allowed to be served at this well-meaning but badly-built organization.
So with empty stomachs will these abandoned pets will be sitting alone for the holidays, huddled together to keep warm and playing with any toys that were left out for them when their owner disappeared. They could try to roam the streets and live a normal life, but to do so would be to risk their lives to the many random events and horrible villains that are normally taken on by capable humans. If they are lucky, these pets might stand a chance at begging near the Giving Tree, but most people who see fully clothed Neopets who are labeled as owned pass them right by.
The point of this article is this: December is called the Season of Giving for a reason. Many owners take it upon themselves to help out the less fortunate during this time of year, hence all the stories you'll no doubt be reading about pounded pets that either need- or found- a home. There are also volunteers who bring food and Neopoints to the poor, and those who spend a few hours a day working to help out the soup fairy in the soup kitchen. Then there are smaller subdivisions of people and their Neopets who do odd jobs for others, whether it be helping them on a fairy quest or giving them things to restock their shop with. There are even people who lurk the Neoboards and surprise others with their dream pets or expensive paintbrushes. But never has any organization been formed that searches for owned but ownerless pets and helps them out- and that's what this article is asking you to do. If you see a pet who appears to be faring well but has been wandering a shop without buying anything for an hour- approach them. If there's an old, beat-up excuse for a Neohome but the lights are still on- knock on the door. If there's a family of Neopets that is trying to figure out how to get to the Games Room without a human- help them. You never know when your visit, your donation of a few Neopoints or your gift of some accessible food will change a Neopets' life for the better.
Neopets don't have to be homeless to be without a home. This holiday season, let's do everything we can to make them feel welcome again.