Saturday, February 27, 2010

On the subject of breeding and decorum...

Getting Dexter was my first experience with a breeder. In the past, my pets have only ever been shelter cats. However, my husband was adamant that if we were to get a dog, it had to be a doxie, and we both agreed we wanted a male puppy. So four months ago, I started looking for breeders that were within driving distance.

We found one in the same state as us, and began watching her web site. She seemed to really have her stuff together. Lots of suggestions, her mission statement was about improving the breed, she has tons of experience, and the pictures of all the puppies were adorable. We also liked the fact that the puppies were around children, which was important to us in case we wanted to have kids.

Finally, we felt ready to adopt a doxie, so I got in touch with the breeder. She was prompt in getting back to me, and we talked at length about our goals in a pet, how long we had been looking into getting a dog, what our household was like, the fact that I am currently not working so I will be home to train him. First impressions were good.

The day came for us to meet the breeder, and she called to make sure we were still coming. Again, I was happy. The happiness waned a little when we pulled in. She breeds out of her home, and raises the puppies in her kitchen. Not to be a snob, but, it did not look like the, well, cleanest of places. But in we went.

There were about 20 puppies in a little kids' swimming pool with some chicken wire fencing them in. They were all adorable, but older than what we wanted. Our puppy was in a crate with some other very young puppies. The minute I held him, I knew instantly, that he was in fact, "our puppy". We started the paperwork immediately.

Now, I do not know how things normally go with breeders, and how much they can actually be held accountable for. What I do know is, we LOVE Dexter. He has a wonderful personality, great demeanor, and seemed so ready to join our family. He never fussed at all on the 2 hour car ride home, and had no problems eating, drinking, or anything, as soon as he came into our home.

However, there are some things about the breeder and that environment that trouble me. First, she told that she fed all the dogs the same food. She fed all breeds, large and small, and all ages, puppy, adult, and mature, the same exact food. And it was really crappy cheap food, like 20 bucks for 50 pounds. It gave him the worst doggy breath. Switching him to a healthier, puppy formula food is wreaking havoc on his little belly, and causing potty troubles. Second, she sent us home with a syringe full of worm medicine, unlabeled, with very vague dosing instructions, as well as some other medication broken into pieces, shoved into an old prescription bottle (for some other prescription) with no suggestions on how to administer, other than once a day (morning, noon, when? tips for getting him to swallow?)

But finally, what really concerned me was I immediately noticed him scratching his ears. Our vet confirmed that he had ear mites, which seemed to surprise the vet. But then the vet asked if there were a lot of other dogs at this breeder, and explained that there were.

So, now I am left with mixed emotions about the breeder. I mean, I absolutely love this little puppy that came from her environment, but I have all these concerns. Are these normal? What types of experiences have other people had with breeders?

The joys of pet parenthood

I have had my cat, Nora, for over three years. She recently made the move with me to my marital home, and is finally warming up to my husband, so it finally seemed like we had the green light to get a puppy.

Last week, we got a mini dachshund which we named Dexter. He is a dapper dappled doxie (say that three times fast!). The runt of the litter, he weighs a mere 1 lb 13 oz at 9 weeks of age. We are working on crate training, and switching his dog food over. At first, the switch was going well, using 75% of the old brand, 25% of the new. Yesterday, we changed it to 50-50%. There began the problems. The POOP problems. At first he just would not go, not at all, all day.

Then, at about 8:30 last night, he started going pretty regularly. In his crate. And it was really runny. To the point where he could not control it or let me know he needed to go. The vet told me to expect this, as the old dogfood was such crap, and the breeder was feeding him adult formula of the crap, as opposed to puppy, so me feeding him the much healthier, richer puppy formula was going to take some adjusting for his tummy. So, we cleaned. And cleaned. And CLEANED. The whole scenario culminated in an emergency 4 am bath for a very smelly, very sad little puppy. You could tell he was so ashamed that he was making such a mess in his crate.

During the bath, his "sister" Nora was so concerned, she hopped up on the side of the tub to make sure he was ok. It had taken her a few days to warm up to him, so this was a big breakthrough. After he was all clean, I dried him, and laid on the couch with him, to make him feel better. Nora promptly snuggled up on the couch with us, a MAJOR breakthrough. We napped for several hours this morning, and despite all the chaos and smell and mess leading up to it, it was the best sleep I had gotten all week.