A SWANSEA family whose lives have been enriched by man's best friend have re-enforced the message that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Christine and Brendan Sweeney promised their two children a dog for Christmas in 2002.
The couple from Gorseinon visited the RSPCA Llys Nini animal care centre in Penllergaer prior to New Year's Day in 2003 and chose their dog Smokey, a Staff collie cross, who could not be collected until the New Year.
Mrs Sweeney said: "We are pleased to say Smokey is still with us.
"Some people who pass us whilst we're out for our daily walk comment on how Smokey is an old dog, as they can tell from his grey muzzle."
The mother-of-two said Smokey has presented the family with problems such as finding pet-friendly holiday venues and vets' bills.
She added: "A dog is a great addition to any family if you can properly look after and house the dog.
"A dog is a commitment, potentially for years, and not to be abandoned when you realise you can't find the time or money required.
"Think before running out and buying a dog, or even that cute puppy.
"That cute puppy won't stay that cute puppy."
RSPCA Llys Nini business development manager Clara Abson confirmed the Swansea centre re-homed more than 800 animals this year.
She added: "Stories like Smokey make what we do worthwhile.
"It is good to know that the time we spend with the animals looking for a re-home does work and we are not just sending them to another home to be given up a few years later."