Chase Gets a Sister!
Sorry I missed posting last month, and I am late this month. I am once again a new mom. No, not to a human baby, but to a 14 week old puppy named Minnie that I adopted about 2 months ago. She appears to be a lab-Australian shepherd mix. I considered getting another GSP, but I wanted some variety. Maybe next time.
Minnie and I had a rough start together. The day after I brought her home she developed kennel cough, which is the canine equivalent to the common cold in humans. It is caused by a variety of viruses and is highly contagious. Rescued dogs that have experienced the stress of kenneling and long transports are especially susceptible. Puppies have underdeveloped immune systems and can easily become ill. A local rescue organization obtained Minnie and her littermates from a shelter in Kentucky. She was 7 ½ weeks old when I adopted her (too young in my opinion but that is another story). Any veterinary clinic can harbor viruses and bacteria brought in by sick dogs. From the timeline of events that occurred prior to me bringing Minnie home, she probably caught the bug when the rescue people took her to the vet for her first set of shots. As a side note, the Bordetella vaccine required by most boarding and daycare facilities only protects against a bacterium commonly associated with kennel cough. It will not protect against the multiple viruses that cause the illness.
As a result of vomiting from all the coughing, Minnie got aspiration pneumonia. She was rushed to the emergency hospital where she stayed for 4 long heartbreaking days. But she pulled through thanks to great (and expensive!) medical care.
This all occurred at 8 weeks old, during a “sensitive period” of puppy development when scary experiences can have a profound lasting effect. Needless to say, I was very worried about her mental health. Just trying to administer the various medications was a daily struggle. I am sure the multiple X-rays and injections given by the vets and vet techs were not fun either. That kind of traumatic handling was not what I wanted my little pup to experience, but we had no choice. Fortunately, Minnie still loves to be held and loved by everyone she meets.
Shortly after recovering from pneumonia, Minnie got roundworms. Her next set of vaccinations and routine de-worming were already delayed due to her illness, so this put another wrench in my plans to get her out into the world for socialization. Murphy’s Law was turning into Minnie’s Law!
The time when a dog is most accepting of new people, animals, and new environments is before the age of 12 weeks. Socializing a puppy during the first 3 months of life is so critical to preventing behavior problems later on that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has a position statement about it. You can see it here.
I had forgotten just how labor intensive raising a puppy can be. Housetraining alone has me taking Minnie outside numerous times a day. We go on many social outings, too. I am getting less done in a day and my house is more disorganized than usual. But I am obsessed about instilling good habits in Minnie early on so I won’t have to do much remedial training later.
In future posts, I will go into detail about puppy training, socialization and living in a multiple dog household. There is a lot to cover and it applies to all breeds, even the typically friendly ones like the GSPs.